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Insurance Agents Split Account

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The Independent In-surance Agents of America has divided its $10 million account at Williams Whittle Companies and Goldberg Marchesano Partners.

The two agencies beat Arnold of McLean, Va., and The Fiddler Group in Annapolis, Md., in a review. There was no incumbent.

WWC in Alexandria, Va., will provide creative for the group's newly created Trusted Choice brand. GMP of Washington, D.C., will do media planning and buying.

"We weren't planning to split the account, but it became clear to us that we wanted the best in each part," said Maureen Wall, vicepresident of communications for the Alexandria-based association. "We were pleased with how focused and prepared Goldberg Marchesano was. We felt they owned the account."

WWC had been producing projects for the organization's membership campaign. The work, developed earlier this year and breaking now, includes a direct mail initiative to member and targeted agents using "The strength of one voice is Trusted Choice" as a tag. Print efforts will run this quarter in trades such as Rough Notes and Independent Agent. Direct solicitations to insurance firms and print in financial magazines will also break this year.

"We'd been pleased with the customer service Williams Whittle provided," said Wall. "We think [the agency] will take the creative risks important in our category."

WWC president and CEO Rob Whittle called the review a credentials competition and cited his shop's work with Precision Tune Auto Care as contributing to the win.

"The benefits of an independent agent is advocacy and the ability to customize needs," said Whittle. The creative, which he called irreverent and humorous, will focus on that. "We don't need to have the typical insurance advertising," he said.

A national TV rollout targeting affluent consumers in the 35-64 age group will break in first-quarter 2002 on morning news shows, according to Whittle, backed by buys on cable channels including A&E, Discovery, ESPN and CNN. Print in magazines such as Business Week, Forbes and Fortune will follow.

"Unlike a lot of products, there's a demonstrable difference with insurance," Whittle said. "When people understand the difference between using a captive agent versus an independent, they like what IIAA has to offer. They just don't want to have to think about it."