Nationwide Unveils ‘World’s Greatest Spokesperson in the World’

Nationwide Insurance is back in the funny business.

The brand, which had run a well-received 2007 Super Bowl ad that showed Kevin Federline as a fry cook dreaming of his glory days, shifted gears after that with a more serious campaign themed “I am,” which featured Nationwide’s agents talking up the company’s services. Now, the company’s ads are aiming for humor again with a campaign called “The World’s Greatest Spokesperson in the World.”

The effort, via McKinney (which picked up the account from TM Advertising in 2009), shows the spokesman returning after a lengthy hiatus in the woods, where he’s grown a thick beard. After shaving, he dons a suit and starts practicing with a wooden microphone and an old corded phone to get his moves back. A narrator informs that the spokesman was once so persuasive that when he left, the global economy crashed 150 percent, and “it was said that his words carried so much weight that you had to lift them with your legs.”

Steven Schreibman, vp of advertising and brand management at Nationwide, said the idea behind the campaign is to show that Nationwide has better service than any of its competitors. At points, the spokesman is shown cajoling Nationwide on behalf of its customers. Schreibman said that the “I am” ads were well-liked, but “failed to break through.” Hence, the more humorous approach, which Schreibman hopes will get consumers more emotionally involved with the brand.

Schreibman said he considered doing a Super Bowl ad again, but “it didn’t seem like the right time for us.”

Spending for the campaign was not disclosed. The brand spent $139 million on advertising for the first 11 months of 2009, per the Nielsen Co.