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A Premium Win for Henderson

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Henderson Advertising topped tough competition to win Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company's marketing account.

The Columbia, S.C., agency won the estimated $5 million business after a three-month review. It defeated Atlanta finalists Fletcher Martin Ewing, Sawyer Riley Compton and The Morrison Agency.

Saatchi & Saatchi, the New York incumbent which handles marketing for Colonial parent UnumProvident Corp., did not participate in the review.

Al Perkinson, Henderson's director of client services, said the key to besting the competition—which originally involved 14 agencies—was "paying careful attention to every step" of the review. That included a request for proposal with a strategic assignment, client visits and, finally, a creative presentation.

Henderson creative director Andy Mendelsohn turned client heads with a presentation that, according to Perkinson, was "180 degrees opposite" industry leader Aflac's marketing approach.

"The 800-pound gorilla is Aflac and they have that duck," Mendelsohn said. "That is a flip approach to a very serious category. We're going with real-life stuff, very emotional advertising."

Colonial, based in Columbia since 1939, is increasingly focused on the supplemental insurance segment. Its policies provide consumers, typically through on-the-job payroll deductions, with cash payments to cover, for example, medical-related travel costs and loss of income due to illness or disability.

Supplemental coverage is the fastest growing category in the insurance business. Colonial, with two million active policies, serves more than 40,000 corporations and organizations in 49 states. Only Aflac is larger.

"Henderson clearly demonstrated its capabilities ... in educating consumers and business leaders about the value of supplemental benefits in a creative way while maintaining the integrity of our brand," said John Tomat, Colonial's manager of corporate advertising.

Consumer and b-to-b work, set to break later this year, will include television, radio, interactive, outdoor and collateral elements.

Strategically, the challenge is to reposition the company.

"Although Colonial is a market leader, the awareness of the brand is very low," said Perkinson.