Farmers Insurance Launches Review

LOS ANGELES Farmers Insurance has placed creative and media chores on its ad account into review, the company confirmed today.
The incumbent, Interpublic Group’s Campbell-Ewald here, could not be immediately reached, but the Warren, Mich., office acknowledged that the Los Angeles shop would defend before referring calls to the client.

Farmers has historically spent $40-50 million annually on ads, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. In the first quarter of 2008 alone, the client spent more than $40 million. Sources said that outlay could approach $200 million by year’s end as the insurer moves from national campaigns to spot advertising. Farmers declined to disclose spending.

“Campbell-Ewald has been our ad agency and business partner,” said Jerry Davies, director of media relations, Farmers Insurance, Los Angeles. “We have demanding performance expectations and we are reviewing all our capabilities and resources to make sure we are positioned to take full advantage of the opportunities in a rapidly changing marketplace.”
Davies said it has now been “12 years since we asked agencies what they could do for our business” and added that the company was “delighted that Campbell-Ewald will be part of the competition for this account.”

Sources said the insurance category has heated up considerably, with most insurers trying to catch up to Geico, which is now spending over $400 million annually, per Nielsen. Farmers Insurance Group is now owned by Zurich Financial Services.

Last October, John Ingersoll, a corporate lawyer who’d worked at InsWeb, 21st Century Insurance, Countrywide Financial, was named vp of marketing. Kevin Kelso, promoted to evp and CMO in March, was apparently not a fan of the agency’s recent work, per sources. Kelso could not be immediately reached.

The account had been recent trouble for Campbell-Ewald, per sources, leading to a shake-up in account planning in Los Angeles. Two weeks ago, Jeffrey Scott, president of integrated account services in Warren, parted ways with the agency. The shop declined comment.

Recent broadcast work for the client includes spots for Farmers HelpPoint wherein a family is living on the street when displaced by a fire, and an effects-laden drama when a driver returns to a parking lot to discover his car stolen.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with revised spending figures.