ATLANTA-Trone Advertising in Greensboro, N.C., last week beat the odds, as well as formidable competition from New York and Atlanta, to retain hometown client Jefferson-Pilot Corp., a company poised to become a national advertiser in the life insurance market.
“You don’t normally hold onto [an account] when it’s put in review,” acknowledged Jim Feeney, president of Trone, incumbent on the J-P account for more than four years when the client began its search earlier this summer. J-P confirmed the other finalists were Merkley Newman Harty, New York, and McCann-Erickson’s Atlanta office.
Feeney referred billings queries to client vice president of corporate affairs Michael Burney, who declined to divulge the ad budget. Competitive Media Reporting tracked J-P’s 1996 media spending at approximately $2 million. Sources estimated, however, that the company would spend about $5 million annually as it seeks to compete on a national level.
In February, J-P purchased the life insurance operations of Warren, N.J.-based Chubb Corp. That acquisition doubled J-P’s life insurance sales to approximately $200 million and raised its national ranking to 15th in insurance in force. Sources said J-P has been consulting with Landor Associates, a corporate identity specialist in San Francisco. Burney would not comment on what brand identity or name changes the company is considering.
This summer Trone faced the challenge of proving to J-P that it had both the strategic insight and creative prowess necessary to guide the client onto the national playing field. “I think we demonstrated to [J-P] that there was a lot of money in the bank in terms of [Trone’s] intellectual capabilities,” said Feeney, who has worked on financial and insurance accounts throughout his career.
“We liked [Trone’s] thinking,” Burney said. “And the quality of the creative gave us confidence that, working together, we could develop a breakthrough campaign for our industry.” Burney said a new campaign would probably roll out in the next 12-18 months.
Trone is responsible for creative, research and media buying for J-P’s new national branding effort. Although Feeney did not disclose Trone’s creative strategy on the two campaigns it presented, he said the agency recommended a media mix of television and magazine ads.
Prior to J-P’s recent growth spurt, the account had become “less than active,” Feeney said. He now counts J-P among Trone’s top five clients.
Trone staffers assigned to the J-P business include Feeney, account supervisor Warner Hall, chief operating officer Tom Mooth and executive vice president, creative director Ron Irons.
Get Adweek's Brand Marketing Daily Newsletter in your Inbox
Today's highs and lows of creativity