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AmFam Trusts in Digital Branded Entertainment

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 20, 2011 12:00 PM

Meet Gayle Evans, an American Family Insurance agent in Maple Grove, Anytown, U.S.A. She's also the star of a digital series produced by NBCU Digital titled, In Gayle We Trust.

The character has been featured in two seasons of webisodes on NBC.com (final episodes will continue through this fall), and was introduced last year as part of NBC's ramped up branded entertainment push — an initiative that NBCU's new owners at Comcast recently killed off in lieu of producing webisodes tied to NBC's current on-air programming, not brands' characters and storylines. 

While In Gayle We Trust is winding down, AmFam is pleased with the creation of the character's role as “a go-to resource in the lives of her clients,” the insurance brand's head of advertising tells brandchannel.

“The objective of any advertising campaign is to stand out from the crowd, to give consumers a reason to consider your products or services,” Telisa Yancy, Advertising Director at American Family Insurance, told us. “This campaign drives home in an emotional and inspirational way what insurance is all about – and what American Family is all about.”

The lives of AmFam’s clients are changing, as economic downturns and natural disasters have taken their toll and the company is seizing the opportunity with a new ad campaign called “American Dream” based on the limitless possibilities of still — having it all, and keeping it safe.

While 93% of Americans still believe in the American Dream, only 11% are living it, according to recent research by AmFam; and more than 8 in 10 (84%) agree that it's changing.

“In a larger sense, the American Dream is the ultimate common denominator for every American. More specifically, American Family Insurance is in the business of protecting what could be perceived as the American dream - what’s important in people’s lives: their families, their homes, their businesses and their vehicles, and by protecting these things we protect their dreams,” said Yancy.

The 360 campaign, created with Ogilvy and Mather, launched last month, a blend of traditional and social media asking the question: “Is the American Dream dead?”  AmFam branding took a back seat with only the roofline feature of their logo visible. 

A :60 spot ran in 204 theatres across 19 of their operating states during the first phase of the campaign. “Our unbranded cinema advertising created more than 11 million media impressions. This really hits home with our agents and employees, who have seen elements of the campaign, because it powerfully and accurately captures what they feel and what they to do to help people,” Yancy told us.

Ads placed in local Hispanic and African American newspapers, directed people to LongLiveOurDreams.com to enter their stories, and 350,000 plus consumers visited in the first three weeks, with 20,000 completing a digital survey.

AmFam also commissioned internationally known photographer, Sandro Miller, recent winner at the Cannes Film Festival, to capture images of real people in AmFam communities, creating a library of people living the dream for a print phase this fall and display on AmFam’s network of 320 digital OOH boards.

AmFam has used social media with tools like iAmFam, a digital lifestyle game on the In Gayle We Trust microsite, to promote the campaign. “Social media has allowed us to reach our consumers at a personal level, in a more direct way,” said Yancy.

The resilience of people who endured the recent tragedies down South and in Joplin, Mo., also inspired AmFam’s campaign theme. “When something like Joplin happens, it really brings home what an important role we play in protecting people’s dreams.”

As for AmFam's next digital foray: stay tuned!


Lance Trachtenberg United States says:

Great post! We just reviewed this series at Placevine Studios.


July 21, 2011 06:32 AM #

S. Brady (brandchannel) United States says:

Thanks, Lance! Nice review. What do you think about NBCU ending branded entertainment digital programming?

July 21, 2011 09:45 AM #

Lance Trachtenberg United States says:

Thanks, we appreciate the compliment! It looks like NBC along with the rest of the nets are switching gears in their approach to web series content. Since they're used to pairing entertainment down to appeal to a broader audience, they seem to be like a fish out of water in regards to the seemingly limitless variety of digital content viewing options that are available on the web. Couple this with having to adjust their revenue clearance expectations to a completely different advertising model from traditional broadcast spot sales, and we see a situation that the nets will have to figure in new ways to deal with if they are to see any real growth of their content.  

July 21, 2011 10:34 AM #

S. Brady (brandchannel) United States says:

Interesting viewpoint; thanks! Appreciate that Comcast wants NBC and its other TV networks to produce original online programming to support their on-air programming (such as NBC's digital shorts for The Office & SNL) but NBCU Digital closure still a big loss for brands -- but I'm sure there are plenty of others eager to fill the void! Smile

July 21, 2011 10:41 AM #

Chase Norlin United States says:

NBCU is getting out of the digital production business at exactly the wrong time in my opinion.  Branded Entertainment, Web Series, Web Shows, Viral Videos, and Webisodes have finally come of age and are a viable production medium.  The studios have an incredible opportunity now to reinvent the TV Pilot business with lower cost web series production models, testing the shows via audience acquisition companies like Alphabird (our company) and others, then decide to make bigger investments in them, turn them into TV Shows, Films, Xbox games, etc.  Those that make the investments now and stick at it will ultimately become the studios of the future and folks like NBCU will be forced to buy their way into this business through acquisition.

July 21, 2011 04:15 PM #

S. Brady (brandchannel) United States says:

It's also a case of regime change, of course -- branded entertainment was hot when Ben Silverman was at NBC. Now he's got Electus & Barry Diller's backing to show NBC (and Comcast) a thing or two. And not just Electus, of course... will check out Alphabird, too! Smile Thanks for taking time to weigh in, Chase; appreciated!

July 21, 2011 04:26 PM #

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