Nationwide Taps Maine Agency for ‘Brand Audit’

Nationwide Insurance has enlisted a Maine marketing agency to undertake a “brand audit” of the company’s advertising and marketing programs.

Via has its headquarters in Portland Maine, but runs an office in Nationwide’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio. The shop will be called on to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of all facets of Nationwide’s initiatives, said John Coleman, Via’s CEO.

Nationwide spent more than $20 million on advertising in 2000 and nearly $10 million through August of this year, according to CMR. The company works with Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas, for its core insurance business and Burrell Communications, Chicago, on efforts to reach African American consumers.

Officials at Nationwide did not return calls by press time, and representatives of Temerlin and Burrell said they were not aware of the audit.

Coleman stopped short of suggesting the audit process could be a precursor to a full-blown agency review, but he did say that marketing changes and new assignments could arise based on Via’s efforts.

Through an existing relationship with an undisclosed client, Via learned that Nationwide was looking for help in monitoring its brand image, said Rich Rico, founding partner of Via.

Nationwide is looking to better compete in a crowded market that includes Allstate, Prudential and State Farm.

Via is expected to evaluate the client’s advertising programs and check them against a list of criteria which Via and Nationwide developed together. A final report is due in January.

The unusual task from Nationwide came the same week the shop added an estimated $5 million in advertising from Swedish fine paper and publishing concern Stora Enso. That company is seeking to develop better brand recognition in North America.