Life Happens in 21st Century Spots

LOS ANGELES Interpublic Group’s Sedgwick Rd. has created its first campaign for 21st Century Insurance since the client split with The Richards Group shortly after that shop won a creative review [Adweek Online, June 7].

In four television spots, actors portray 21st Century employees whose experiences lead them to various product offerings. “Drivers just like you” is the new tagline.

In the “Breakdown” spot that broke last week, a young man is stranded alongside a remote highway. He flags down a truck, realizing too late that the drivers are roughnecks. They greet him with a sarcastic, “Hello, sunshine.” The ad cuts to a boardroom scene at 21st Century, where the man, now shown with his arm in a cast and a black eye, explains how he thought of free towing with every policy.

In another spot already running, a man is in the delivery room with his wife when she delivers twins. The doctor says, “Hang on.” The spot cuts to the man carrying quintuplets as he addresses the board about how premiums should be kept low because life is so expensive. A graphic indicates that seven out of 10 buyers save money on 21st Century policies.

Two spots break on Sept. 18 with the same theme and tagline. In “Mir,” a woman is preening over her new car when a piece of a satellite falls on her lawn, followed by a larger chunk that destroys her vehicle. She presents the idea of complete replacement value for new car owners.

In “Loaner,” a woman asks her husband the whereabouts of their car. He replies that her rowdy brother has borrowed it, and it comes back a wreck. Hair frazzled from her ordeal, she presents the idea that insurance should cover any driver given permission.

Zach Hitner, creative director at the Seattle agency, developed the spots, with copywriter Mark Lowe and producer by Jay Howard. Steve Miller of @radical media directed.

Three radio spots, which have also broken, use a variation on the theme. Outdoor starts in California and uses the “Drivers just like you” copy as well.

“[The ads] do a nice job of both highlighting features and putting forth a brand point of view, a company philosophy,” said Hitner, who said it was one of the three or four campaigns the agency pitched the client. “The real idea is that 21st Century is a much more empathetic company.”

Hitner said the spots are a departure from the category concentration on lowest price. “Price has to be proven to the consumer,” he said. “If you can own something larger than just price point, then I think you make a much more compelling argument for using this company.”

Woodland Hills, Calif.-based 21st Century spent $20 million on advertising through June 2006 and $25 million in 2005, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

After parting with IPG’s Dailey & Associates, the client launched a review and selected The Richards Group, Dallas. That agency resigned the account after only two client meetings, citing creative differences.