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Military Insurer Calls Inspection

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United Services Automobile Association Begins Search For Agency
DALLAS--United Services Automobile Association, a provider of insurance and financial services primarily for military personnel and their families, has launched a search for an agency as it makes plans to expand its marketing activities.
A client representative referred questions about the search last week to The Bedford Group, an Atlanta consultancy that has begun issuing questionnaires to an undisclosed pool of agencies across the country.
Geography is not expected to be a factor in the agency selection.
"[The client] is a leader in their category and they are looking for an agency that's the same," said Kristin Hulke, a consultant working with The Bedford Group.
San Antonio-based USAA has farmed out work on a project basis in the past and does not currently have an agency of record, said Hulke, who declined to comment further.
Sources said the first-round questionnaire is due back by the end of the month. The document does not indicate spending plans but states the agency's assignments could include brand and strategy positioning, research, creative development and production and direct response work, according to sources. Hulke added that new media will play a more prominent role in the client's marketing plans.
USAA posted less than $1 million in measured advertising expenditures last year, per Competitive Media Reporting. Direct mail accounts for the bulk of the company's current marketing, according to a USAA representative.
One contacted agency speculated that USAA may be planning to step up marketing activities promoting its brokerage and investment management services.
USAA's property, casualty and life insurance policies are extended only to military personnel and their families and some government employees. The company offers its financial service lineup to consumers outside the military as well, though those products have not been promoted to a general audience.
USAA owns and manages $50 billion in assets and has more than 3 million members. USAA Investment Management Co. offers a diversified group of 35 no-load mutual funds.