Safeco Unveils Major TV Ad Campaign in Washington

July 9, 2004

Safeco Insurance has launched a summer-long television advertising campaign in Western Washington – its first major television and radio ad campaign in more than a decade.

Don’t expect a return of the Pink Panther, the cartoon character used to recruit customers in the late 70s and early 80s. The company has changed dramatically over the last few years, and its advertising and mission have changed too, according to Michelle McEttrick, director of Integrated Marketing for Safeco.

The new, unscripted ads take a down-to-earth look at what it’s like for customers to comprehend the complexity of purchasing auto insurance. The television and radio ads will run on both cable and local stations throughout the Puget Sound area until Sept. 24. The campaign also will be featured on local transit and billboards.

“Understanding what insurance to buy is just as important as managing your 401(k). But most of us don’t know that … and it’s not because we don’t care. Insurance is complicated. Getting solid, down-to-earth advice from an independent agent or advisor is incredibly important,” McEttrick said.

“In developing this campaign, we found that even relatively simple questions about what auto insurance to buy like, ‘What’s the difference between comprehensive and collision?’ leave most people shrugging their shoulders. The purpose of this campaign is to start talking about what Safeco and the independent agents we work with are doing to uncomplicate the process for consumers.”

Safeco’s drive to uncomplicate insurance – to make buying, selling and owning insurance easier than anyone else – began in 2002. Since then, the company reported it has:

* Significantly reduced the time it takes independent agents to issue auto, home and small-business policies through an online sales platform.
* Opened hundreds of drive-in auto claims centers nationwide, where customers can get an inspection and instant money for repairs.
* Added a new “Express Reporting” hotline (1-800-332-3226) to handle other simple auto claims right over the phone.
* Created a National Catastrophe Team of claims professionals who are dispatched immediately to disaster scenes to speed relief payments.
* Unveiled new consumer education materials with straightforward advice on a wide range of insurance topics.
* Expanded its auto and small-business products, so twice as many people qualify for coverage.
* And, for shareholders, Safeco took a new approach to its 2003 annual report (“Upfront”), designing it as an owner’s guide to the business with a 10-K written in plain English.

“This is round one. We’re just starting to change the way people experience insurance,” McEttrick added. Safeco plans to roll out additional consumer education materials, revamp and simplify its Web site and introduce interactive online resources for auto, home and small-business insurance customers.

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