Perhaps because property/casualty insurers are used to literally riding out storms, the category has become one of the sponsorship industry’s most consistent players, steadily increasing its activity no matter what economic conditions or other issues it faces.

Properties both large and small continue to report increased interest and deals from the likes of Allstate Insurance Co., State Farm Insurance Cos., GEICO and other players in the hyper-competitive category.

Indeed, sponsorship is such an important medium for reaching potential customers that insurers often will forgo exclusivity with local and regional properties. For example, Festivals, Inc. this year signed State Farm as the presenting sponsor of the Tall Ships Tacoma event and also brought in GEICO as a supporting sponsor. The festival producer also works with Amica Mutual Insurance Co., State Farm and GEICO at the Comcast Bite of Seattle presented by Emerald Queen Casino.

“There is more competition between insurance companies to make a connection at the consumer level. It’s definitely an active category, and one that is savvy when it comes to activating sponsorships,” said Brett Gorrell, Festival, Inc.’s vice president of sponsorship.

Hot buttons for insurance companies include lead generation, niche marketing to targeted markets, hospitality and sales incentives for agents, and the opportunity to promote community involvement.


Property/Casualty Insurers: Who Does What

AIG
American Int’l Group, Inc.
70 Pine St.
New York, NY 10270

Mark Clowes, manager, advertising services
212/770-7000

Targets / Objectives / Key Activations: Second-largest U.S. property/casualty underwriter focuses on major and minor league baseball to gain visibility, build its brand and demonstrate its community involvement through nonprofit tie-ins. For example, leverages Mets partnership with Homers for Kids charity program in which it donates money to designated charities based on the team’s home runs. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival affords title of a gospel tent; the insurer has reportedly used the tie to host participants from a convention hosted by the Risk and Insurance Management Society that coincides with the fest.

Decision-making Structure: Clowes vets and signs off on ties with input from other marketing staff.

Current Sponsorships: MLB New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies; Motor City Bowl presented by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler; New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell; Triple-A Buffalo Bisons; Iowa Cubs; Nashville Sounds; Round Rock Express; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Additional Comments: AIG spends more on sponsorship outside the U.S. than domestically. Among its deals: title of the ATP/Sony Ericsson WTA Tour AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships and primary sponsor of U.K. soccer giant Manchester United, a four-year, $100 million deal that affords branding on club jerseys. Leverages Man U deal with AIG Goals for Kids fundraiser.


Allstate Insurance Co.
2775 Sanders Rd.
Northbrook, IL 60062

Pam Hollander, director, sponsorship marketing
847/402-5000

Targets / Objectives / Key Activations: Number three U.S. p/c insurer sponsors to maintain top-of-mind awareness, build brand loyalty and gain a point of differentiation. “We don’t have a product where you can touch, feel or experience the brand, so sponsorship enables us to get close to consumers in a way we can’t through traditional advertising,” Hollander said. Sponsors college athletic programs through Allstate Good Hands field-goal-net program. Leverages the program by making a donation to participating schools for every field goal and extra point made into their nets. Signed partnership in ’07 with the U.S. tour of the Mexican national soccer team to build its presence in front of Spanish-speaking consumers; activates with a mobile marketing program, as well as fundraisers to refurbish neighborhood soccer fields and purchase equipment and uniforms for children.

Decision-making Structure: Hollander reviews proposals with senior marketing manager Karen Uhler. Hollander reports to Lisa Cochrane, vice president, integrated marketing communications. Regional deals come through 14 regional managers. Accepts proposals online at allstate.sponsorport.com.

Current Sponsorships: Title: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill.; NASCAR Sprint Cup Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Indianapolis; Sugar Bowl, New Orleans. Presenting: U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Cosponsor: 65 collegiate athletic programs; AFL Chicago Rush; ATP/Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, Memphis; Bowl Championship Series; Federacion Mexicana de Futbol; Gillett Evernham Motorsports Sprint Cup team; Nashville Ballet; Re/Max Ballunar Liftoff Festival presented by The City of Nassau Bay, Houston; State Fair of Texas; Urban Youth Racing School, Philadelphia; USOC.

Additional Comments: IMG helps vet proposals, develop strategy and execute ties. Octagon helps activate. Leverages Gillett Evernham tie by using driver Kasey Kahne in a series of TV ads. Dropped NASCAR sanctioning body deal last year after Nationwide signed title of the Nationwide Series. Leveraged tie to U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony by hosting a performance by the 1996 U.S. women’s gymnastics team at Chicago’s Union Station. Working with Raycom Media to create a virtual net program during college football telecasts from schools not sponsored by Allstate.


Farmers Group, Inc.
4680 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010

John Ingersoll, senior vice president of marketing
323/932-3200

Targets / Objectives / Key Activations: Eighth-largest U.S. p/c insurer sponsors mix of nonprofits, community festivals, high school sports and other property types to generate name awareness, interact with consumers and demonstrate its community involvement. Frequently sponsors events that draw African-Americans, Latinos and other targeted populations. For example, Farmers last year signed title of Angel City Classic, which features two Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Also signed with roughly 15 state high school athletic associations, a program it uses to build its presence in front of students and parents. The Zurich Financial Services subsidiary sells through more than 17,000 exclusive and independent agents.

Decision-making Structure: Terri Lyman, community relations manager, reviews nonprofit ties; Cora Barran, director of advertising, reviews ties with other types of properties. Ingersoll signs off.

Current Sponsorships: Title: Angel City Classic HBCU football game, Los Angeles. Cosponsor: 15 state high school athletic associations; Albuquerque Int’l Balloon Fiesta presented by Wells Fargo; Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Michigan; Hollywood Bowl; Independent League Joliet (Ill.) Jackhammers; Library Foundation of Los Angeles; Los Angeles Black Business Expo; Los Angeles County Fair; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Los Angeles Latino Int’l Film Festival; Los Angeles Philharmonic; March of Dimes’ March for Babies; Mariachi USA Festival, Los Angeles; Mariachi USA Foundation; Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Additional Comments: Frequently leverages sponsorship to engage agents and employees. For example, local agents host Be a Hero for Babies Day fundraising events around Farmers’ long-standing March of Dimes sponsorship.


GEICO
Government Employees Insurance Co.
5260 Western Ave.
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

Ted Ward, vice president of marketing
301/986-3000

Targets / Objectives / Key Activations: Fifth-largest U.S. p/c insurer uses sponsorship to stay top of mind, gain one-on-one consumer touchpoints and showcase its gecko mascot. The company this year rolled out a new three-year partnership with the Assn. of Zoos & Aquariums, around which it is sponsoring a traveling gecko exhibit at member institutions. As part of the cash and in-kind deal, the company is running four conservation-themed TV ads featuring its talking gecko at member zoos. The company frequently activates ties by hosting on-site games and other activities to generate leads.

Decision-making Structure: Ward signs off on sponsorships.

Current Sponsorships: Title: NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle team. Presenting: ATP Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, D.C. Cosponsor: Army Ten-Miler, Washington, D.C.; Artscape, Baltimore; Assn. of Zoos & Aquariums; Atlantic Coast Conference; Comcast Bite of Seattle presented by Emerald Queen Casino; Hersheypark; International Cherry Blossom Festival, Macon, Ga.; MLS D.C. United; NBA Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards; Pacific Life Holiday Bowl; Southern Conference; Tall Ships Tacoma presented by State Farm; Taste of Buffalo; WTT Washington Kastles.

Additional Comments: Sponsors motorcycle race team and Virginia State H.O.G. Rally on behalf of motorcycle insurance. Overlaid those ties–as well as the Kastles–with GEICO Motorcycle Bikers for Tykes fundraiser in Washington, D.C.


Nationwide Financial Services, Inc.
One Nationwide Plaza
Columbus, OH 43215

John Aman, advertising and brand officer
614/249-7111

Targets / Objectives / Key Activations: Number seven U.S. p/c insurer this year expanded its presence in motorsports with seven-year title of NASCAR’s second-largest series. Focuses nationally on NASCAR and golf to build its brand, bring its “On Your Side” positioning to life, generate leads and entertain agents, employees and other stakeholders. Evaluates success based on number of quotes, policies sold and retention of customers, as well as media value, unaided awareness, interest and consideration measures. To reach African-Americans, Nationwide this year signed a partnership with The Smiley Group, a tie that affords sponsorship of Tavis Smiley’s PBS program, a presence at his five-city On Your Side economic empowerment and financial literacy tour, as well as sponsorship of the State of the Black Union event in Los Angeles in February ’09.

Decision-making Structure: Aman reviews and signs off on national ties; CMO James Lyski provides input on proposals over $100,000. Funds local and regional deals out of 14 regional offices. Accepts proposals at nationwide.sponsorport.com. Wasserman Media Group helps vet proposals.

Current Sponsorships: Title: AJGA Nationwide Insurance Junior presented by the Memorial Tournament, Dublin, Ohio; Better Health Columbus Marathon, Ohio; Nationwide Series, NASCAR; Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio; Nationwide Tour, PGA Tour. Cosponsor: American Motorcyclist Assn.; AFL Columbus Destroyers; Atlanta Motor Speedway; Bemus Bay Pops, Bemus Point, N.Y.; Bristol Motor Speedway; Frosted Pink with a Twist; Infineon Raceway; Kentucky Speedway; Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Lowe’s Motor Speedway; Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course; NASCAR; NHL Columbus Blue Jackets; Ohio State Fair; The Ohio State University athletics; The Smiley Group; Texas Motor Speedway; Texas Tech University athletics; Triple-A Columbus Clippers; US Lacrosse.

Additional Comments: Leverages sponsorship of Edge Entertainment’s Frosted Pink with a Twist cancer fundraiser with Nationwide Insurance Woman of Courage Award and an offer to donate $10 for each consumer requesting a rate quote. Plans to sign new deals that reach Latinos, as well as additional ties that reach African-Americans and women, Aman said. Recently unveiled TV spot featuring former American Idol contestant Sanjaya Malakar aimed at South Asian-American consumers. Promotes the ad and related content at Sanjaya-ize.com.


State Farm Insurance Cos.
One State Farm Plaza
Bloomington, IL 61710

Todd Fischer, manager of national sponsorships
309/766-2311

Targets / Objectives / Key Activations: Largest U.S. p/c insurer uses sponsorship to build its brand and drive consideration among targeted audiences. “We use sponsorship to establish relevancy for our brand in front of different target consumers who could turn into future customers,” Fischer said. For example, State Farm this year signed a deal with Live Nation that affords individual opportunities to reach young adults, women and Latinos at more than 20 music venues. Also new in ’08: Fiesta del Jonron, a Latino-focused mobile marketing program that leverages title of the MLB Home Run Derby. Uses sponsorship to engage its more than 17,000 agents by promoting its category leadership, providing on-site business-building opportunities and running internal sales contests that offer tickets to sponsored events and other perks. Sponsors music festivals and other youth-centric properties on behalf of its NowWhat.com site.

Decision-making Structure: Mark Gibson, assistant vice president of advertising, oversees sponsorship marketing initiatives. Fischer manages the sponsorship department. State Farm’s 13 regional zone marketing managers also fund deals. Posts sponsorship guidelines and accepts proposals through StateFarm.com.

Current Sponsorships: Title: Bayou Classic, college football; Lone Star Showdown; State Farm Classic, LPGA stop, Springfield, Ill.; Missouri Valley Conference Basketball Championship; Sun Bowl Basketball Tournament; USA Basketball Challenge, Las Vegas; Wade Trophy and Women’s Tip-Off Classic, collegiate women’s basketball. Presenting: AT&T Fiesta Broadway, Los Angeles; Maroon 5 tour; NFL Pro Bowl; Tall Ships Tacoma; USA Basketball Red, White and Hoops Tour, 12 stops; Walt Disney World Florida Classic, college football. Cosponsor: AFL New York Dragons; The Bamboozle music festival, East Rutherford, N.J.; Big South Conference; Brut Sun Bowl; Cheyenne Frontier Days; Fiesta DC, Washington, D.C.; LatinoFest, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco; Live Nation; Lollapalooza delivered by AT&T; LPGA; Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference; Missouri Valley Conference; NBA San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets; NCAA; NFL; Pac 10 Conference; Southland Conference; Under Armour Senior Bowl; University of Connecticut athletics; WNBA Houston Comets; University of Maryland athletics; USA Basketball.

Additional Comments: The Marketing Arm helps strategize and execute deals. Signed endorsement deal this year with NBA Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, a State Farm customer since ’04. Garnered more than 400 leads from an ’08 back-to-school event around its sponsorship of the Big South Conference.


Note: Rankings based on net premiums written in 2007 per A.M. Best Co.