Battle of the insurance jingles
Okay, Farmers. You’ve enjoyed your monopoly on silly insurance ad jingles long enough. This is war!
Liberty Mutual has now marched into the arena, armed with a jingle even more annoying than yours. Surrender now, or you will see no mercy.
What Liberty Mutual did is actually pretty rare in this business. After running an ad campaign for at least a couple of years, they decided to “enhance” it with a new jingle at the end—a veritable body blow to competitors taken from the Classic Book of Advertising, circa 1964.
I’m painfully aware of how hard it is to come up with smart strategies and creative executions. I also know how many meetings it takes to sell a creative idea to people who may not see what you see.
That said, I can’t explain how ideas that deserve a quick and merciful death survive a process that includes multiple checkpoints at both the agency and client. The best I can do is imagine how the final meeting went…
INT – AGENCY BOARDROOM – DAY
Present: CREATIVE and ACCOUNT on the agency side, CLIENT on the Liberty Mutual side. Assorted others seated at the table to justify the billing.
CLIENT: Guys, I’m really anxious to see your ideas for a new ad campaign. We’re under a lot of pressure from competitors and even more from our own CEO. Save us!
ACCOUNT: Actually, we have a idea that’s so good, we won’t need to spend millions on a new campaign.
CREATIVE: I mean we all love our current campaign, right? What better way to sell insurance than by commercializing the symbol of American freedom?
ACCOUNT: [Chuckles] A celebrity who works for free.
CREATIVE: So we propose keeping the campaign, but shattering expectations by putting a new jingle at the end of each ad.
CLIENT: Hmm, daring. Okay … go on …
CREATIVE: So how do you create a great jingle? We started with the lyrics. We put together a team of writers to look at phrases, sentences, even paragraphs … and then miraculously found a way to boil it down to a single word: “Liberty.”
ACCOUNT: But our name is “Liberty Mutual.”
CREATIVE: True, but hold that thought. Then came the execution. We looked at hundreds of voices, sound effects, orchestras, glee clubs, everything. We found the killer sound in a small group of middle-aged people in a book club outside Topeka. These people were amazing—they sing “a cappella,” and they’re also customers!
ACCOUNT: PR is going to love this.
CREATIVE: After all that work, we finally got it to a beautiful place. We’ll share it with you now. Maestro?
ACCOUNT presses a button, and the book club voices sing “Liberty, Liberty, Liberty!”
CLIENT: Shouldn’t that be “Liberty Mutual, Liberty Mutual, Liberty Mutual”?
CREATIVE: Well, it’s quicker this way, BUT—we still weren’t satisfied. It seemed kind of “safe.” So, after two all-nighters, we finally nailed it. I just have to ask you to blow away all your preconceptions and listen with an open mind. Here’s where we ended up…
The new version plays. It’s exactly the same as the first version. But now there’s an added fourth “Liberty” at the end. CLIENT ponders silently for an uncomfortably long time, and then finally—
CLIENT: You guys are scaring me.
By sheer instinct, the entire agency team starts talking at once, an overlapping jumble of defenses, excuses and pleas for more time.
CLIENT: Whoa, guys, STOP! I was just kidding… I love it!
A collective “whew,” and the room comes to life again. The agency people mentally high-five each other, then the deeper analysis begins.
ACCOUNT: This jingle puts us light-years ahead of Farmers. Theirs is entertaining, but it only says their name once. Our new jingle has four times the branding power.
CLIENT: Plus, the Farmers jingle is basically a joke. They wanted to make customers smile. Insurance is no laughing matter.
ACCOUNT: So now we’ll have the best of both worlds. We’ll continue to monetize a sacred-but-overused American symbol totally unrelated to insurance, while we layer on a jingle that communicates the power of our brand—TIMES FOUR!
CLIENT: Guys, it’s fantastic. I really appreciate all the hard work. Just one thought—maybe you can find a way to slip at least one “Mutual” into it?
Here’s a Farmer’s ad, complete with jingle.
Here’s a Liberty Mutual ad, with new jingle.
Here’s a pre-jingle Liberty Mutual ad, which ends with a spoken “Liberty Mutual Insurance.” Only once.