Liberty Mutual Earns Branding Kudos

Liberty Mutual ranked as the “Most Effective Insurance Brand of the Year” in 2013, according to a recent list from Ace Metrix that scored the most effective television advertising brands of the year. Liberty Mutual was also the only brand to return to the winner’s list from 2012.

Ace Metrix weighs a brand’s overall effectiveness across the entire video advertising industry’s body of work both annually and year over year. The television analytics firm scores every nationally airing television advertisement across 23 industries and 85 categories. To qualify for the Ace Metrix Brand of the Year list, brands must have debuted five or more unique pieces of creative content within an industry that contains more than 100 pieces of creative content and at least five qualifying brands.

“2013 was a very strong year for advertising in general,” says Jonathan Symonds, executive vice president of marketing at Ace Metrix. “It was defined in a lot of ways by authenticity. Brands really did a very good job of connecting with their message, and they were rewarded for that with customers.”

Ace Metrix measures the effectiveness of video advertising by measuring more than 500 respondents for each advertisement, all weighted to the census for age, gender and income. The firm then calculates its “Ace Score” based on the interplay of two categories: persuasion, which includes factors like likeability, information, attention, change, relevance and desire; and watchability, which identifies the viewer’s likelihood to watch the ad again. In 2013, Liberty Mutual received an Ace Score of 564.

Symonds says Liberty Mutual’s “Humans” campaign is a great example of that strategy—especially in a category that includes solid brand identities like Mayhem and the gecko. “It’s a very competitive category in terms of the volume of ads, and you also see some of the best creative from a campaign perspective coming out of that category,” he explains. “I think what makes Liberty Mutual stand out is it’s very relatable. It’s not over the top. That’s what drives a lot of their success.”

Insurance is not often a high-scoring category, which Symonds attributes to a lack of perceived relevance from consumers. But this year’s insurance scores reveal that “relevance is actually pretty high for a lot of these ads,” Symonds says. With “Humans,” he adds that “the concept of ‘I can make mistakes and I’m covered’ is something that really connects with consumers.”

Although Liberty Mutual has stuck with the “Humans” campaign for a number of years, they’ve made ongoing efforts to strengthen branding throughout the advertisements. “People really enjoy the ads, they recognize Paul Giamatti as the voiceover, but they weren’t making that connection with the brand,” Symonds says. “Liberty uses a lot of visual cues to address that in 2013, which is a big change.”

Despite the success of the “Humans” campaign, Liberty Mutual made a shift at the end of 2013, kicking off a whole new campaign with an ad called “Come Back: RISE.” “They are the only return winner of the 20 categories we covered, so it’s interesting to see how that shift is going to play out for them,” Symonds says.

Symonds adds that 2013 was also marked by a shift toward embracing television and the Internet as two very distinct advertising platforms. “In the past, 2012 and 2011, when you talked about online video advertising, what you were really talking about was repurposed television ads,” he explains. “What we saw in 2013 was brands starting to use the ‘I’ll come find you’ nature of the Web to build edgier content, and allow that to complement stuff they pushed to you on television.”

So what does that mean for the future of insurance-related video advertising? “That one-two punch was fundamentally new from an integration perspective,” Symonds says. “It wasn’t the first time it had ever been done, but it was the first time we had really seen it done at scale. You’re seeing some very high-profile examples, which we think will accelerate that shift.”

Jacquelyn Connelly is IA assistant editor.