Esurance Returns, Selects FCB

After nearly swerving off the road last year, Internet-based auto insurance provider Esurance is back on track with a new agency.

The client was rescued last October when White Mountains Insurance Group bought it for an undisclosed sum. Now it has tapped FCB, San Francisco, to launch a national ad campaign.

Other shops that were vying for the account included The Rabuck Agency in Los Angeles and Arnold Ingalls Moranville in San Francisco.

Darcie White, vp of strategic planning at The Rabuck Agency, said the account is worth $8 million. She added that “a lot more money” will be in the pipeline if prelaunch testing for the campaign proves successful.

Over the past year, the San Francisco-based dot-com has created ads in-house while focusing its promotional efforts online. “In the next couple of quarters we’ll be looking to FCB to come up with an offline strategy to complement our online strategy,” said spokesman Ryan Mikolasik.

Mikolasik cited FCB’s experience and creativity as reasons the shop was selected.

Dailey & Associates, West Hollywood, Calif., previously handled the account. The shop began working on the business in late 1999, establishing the Esurance name and its initial slogan: “Insurance. Only better.” TV and print ads encouraged Web-savvy shoppers to visit for complete, real-time quote-to-claims service.

The client also hired Georges & Murray Direct to create a consumer-targeted direct mail test campaign last year.

Dailey was not invited to pitch the business this time around. In fact, news of their former client’s re-emergence surprised Dailey’s management. “It’s a miracle that they are back,” said agency chairman Cliff Einstein.

FCB will begin direct response testing for the account in spot TV and radio markets in the coming months, said Taylor Smith, account director on Esurance at the agency. Plans call for TV, print and radio work to roll out in the 26 states where Esurance’s services are currently available.

“Esurance has grown from a small base and is now looking for us to take their message to the offline media and grow their business,” Smith said.

Smith noted that the win brings FCB into the auto insurance category for the first time. Auto insurers collectively spend about $6 billion annually on advertising, he added.