Trone Keeps Jefferson-Pilot: National Advertising on Tap for Life Insurance Firm

ATLANTA-Trone Advertising in Greensboro, N.C., last week beat the odds, as well as formidable competition from New York and Atlanta, to retain hometown client Jefferson-Pilot Corp., a company poised to become a national advertiser in the life insurance market.
“You don’t normally hold onto [an account] when it’s put in review,” acknowledged Jim Feeney, president of Trone, incumbent on the J-P account for more than four years when the client began its search earlier this summer. J-P confirmed the other finalists were Merkley Newman Harty, New York, and McCann-Erickson’s Atlanta office.
Feeney referred billings queries to client vice president of corporate affairs Michael Burney, who declined to divulge the ad budget. Competitive Media Reporting tracked J-P’s 1996 media spending at approximately $2 million. Sources estimated, however, that the company would spend about $5 million annually as it seeks to compete on a national level.
In February, J-P purchased the life insurance operations of Warren, N.J.-based Chubb Corp. That acquisition doubled J-P’s life insurance sales to approximately $200 million and raised its national ranking to 15th in insurance in force. Sources said J-P has been consulting with Landor Associates, a corporate identity specialist in San Francisco. Burney would not comment on what brand identity or name changes the company is considering.
This summer Trone faced the challenge of proving to J-P that it had both the strategic insight and creative prowess necessary to guide the client onto the national playing field. “I think we demonstrated to [J-P] that there was a lot of money in the bank in terms of [Trone’s] intellectual capabilities,” said Feeney, who has worked on financial and insurance accounts throughout his career.
“We liked [Trone’s] thinking,” Burney said. “And the quality of the creative gave us confidence that, working together, we could develop a breakthrough campaign for our industry.” Burney said a new campaign would probably roll out in the next 12-18 months.
Trone is responsible for creative, research and media buying for J-P’s new national branding effort. Although Feeney did not disclose Trone’s creative strategy on the two campaigns it presented, he said the agency recommended a media mix of television and magazine ads.
Prior to J-P’s recent growth spurt, the account had become “less than active,” Feeney said. He now counts J-P among Trone’s top five clients.
Trone staffers assigned to the J-P business include Feeney, account supervisor Warner Hall, chief operating officer Tom Mooth and executive vice president, creative director Ron Irons.