JWT Is In Over Its Head in FEMA Sequel

ATLANTA J. Walter Thompson will debut a second television commercial Aug. 16 for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s national flood insurance program, the agency said.

The Atlanta shop’s 30-second spot shows a family in their home ignoring the rising waters that are engulfing their home. The ad was filmed on a 40 by 30-foot set that was submerged in a seven-foot tank of water.

The actors performed underwater, weighted in position and attended by a diver with oxygen. In one wide shot, a boy in the family swims through the scene chasing a trout while the parents continue their crossword puzzle and knitting. A trained dog surfs by on a coffee table before leaping to the highest cabinet in the room. The family does not realize the damage to the house until after the flood recedes.

The new spot will join a broadcast rotation with the first FEMA ad the agency produced about eight weeks ago. The pair will air on 14 national cable networks, including The Weather Channel, Fox News and Bravo, through the end of the year. The work also will run on local broadcast network affiliates in about 200 communities that have a high risk of flooding.

The campaign includes a direct mail component and print ads that will run in newspapers in the 200 flood-prone communities.

All the ads drive people to a Web site JWT created for the campaign and a toll-free number. The site and number provide additional information about flood insurance and a directory of agents that provide coverage.

The agency won the account last October following a review that included five other shops, including WPP Group siblings Burson-Marsteller and Ogilvy & Mather, both in Washington, D.C. Other contenders were Havas’ Arnold in Boston, Interpublic Group’s Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich., and independent Arrow Mountain, also in Washington.

Annual billings are estimated at $12-15 million [Adweek, Oct. 3].