an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Nationwide: Don’t Buy Our Insurance?

Posted by Rosepixie on May 1, 2010

This is one of the strangest insurance ads I think I’ve ever seen.  I’ve included a transcript of the dialog after the video because it goes really fast and doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Transcript:

Written on Screen: “The World’s Greatest Spokesperson in the World!”

Salesman: “Nationwide Insurance.  Talk to me”

Woman Customer: “For once, I’d just like to see my insurance bill get smaller.”

Salesman (talking into phone): “Jen will switch to Nationwide Insurance if you create something that automagically scans her policy to find discounts she earns as her life changes.  And you have five seconds!”

Woman Customer: “This could save me money, right?”

Salesman: “Oh yeah.  But you can’t do anything in five seconds!  This is great!  Op!  Here we go!”  (Hangs up the phone)

Written on Screen: “Discount Finder”

Salesman: “Rednif tnoucsid.  Love it!

Woman Customer: “Discount Finder”

Salesman: “Even better!”

Woman Customer: “Oh thanks.”

Salesman: “That’s great!”

Woman Customer: “Yeah.”

Written on Screen: “Nationwide Insurance”

Ok.  So I really have to wonder about the marketing team behind this one and whatever executives gave it the go-ahead.  It makes very little sense.  I get what the commercial is trying to say, but I think it fails miserably at it in many ways.

First, we’re told that this guy is the “World’s Greatest Salesperson in the World”, which is redundant and highly unbelievable from almost the moment he starts talking.  He doesn’t give the impression of listening to the woman at all (notice he barely looks in her direction the entire commercial and never when she’s speaking) and his solution to her problem doesn’t seem to be a solution at all.  He calls the insurance company and gives them the extremely arbitrary five seconds to do what he wants.  He gleefully tells us that this won’t work, which makes me wonder why he’s doing it in the first place and how on Earth this is supposed to convince anyone to buy their insurance.

Then, with no indication that they actually met his five-second challenge, he hangs up on the company.  In fact, it seems like he hangs up because they failed.  At this point, even the actress in the commercial seems confused.  But the salesperson doesn’t even notice and cheerfully tells us what the feature was that he wanted the company to find or have that they seem to have failed to find – except that, for some entirely unknown and nonsensical reason, he says it backwards.  We know what it is because it’s written on the screen and the woman in the ad helpfully reads it forwards for us, but what was the point exactly of him saying it backwards instead of forwards?  He doesn’t appear to be Zatanna and we have no reason to believe him reading it backwards will cause it to happen, so it really just ads to the confusion of this already very confused ad.

And then he glorifies over his success while the woman seems somewhat confused and sort of half-heartedly goes along with him.  It’s pretty pathetic, actually.  I can understand her response, though.  If this strange guy was in my living room, I’d humor him too in the hopes that he’d go away faster.

And there’s the problem – I’m hoping he’ll go away.  Which is not a good impression to give.  If the commercial leaves me with the feeling of wanting your spokesperson to go away, that doesn’t give me a very good impression of your company or services, does it?  And this commercial went even beyond that.  It clearly wants viewers to believe that Nationwide has a great dynamic discount finding system that will save them money, and if they do have such a system, that is an awesome selling point.  But the ad didn’t tell us that they have that feature.  It told us that it’s a great feature people want and that nobody has it, even them (at least, not that they can find in five seconds).  And the five seconds thing is especially strange, since I’m guessing you’d be lucky to even have gotten a person in five seconds, much less be on hold for less than that time after asking a question like that!

And the commercial goes very quickly, suggesting that perhaps someone realized how nonsensical and annoying it was and hoped that by speeding it up, other people wouldn’t notice.  Nice try, but that actually doesn’t usually work.  Usually it just makes your commercials easier to forget because less of what you said was processed and retained by viewers.

So, to recap:

1. Annoying salesperson who gives the impression that the company is irritating, doesn’t listen well and really should just go away as quickly as possible.

2. They have a great idea for a feature people would love, but no one apparently has it (even them).

3. Asking any service provider of any kind to do anything in five seconds over the phone is just an exercise in futility, so that element makes you seem either less credible or more ridiculous depending on the viewer.

4. The commercial is sped up, making it more confusing and forgettable, and thus possibly negating all the previous problems, but also making it a waste of time and money since it likely won’t even manage to get the company’s name into people’s heads in a useful way.

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One Response to “Nationwide: Don’t Buy Our Insurance?”

  1. Eva said

    Reading your summary of the action, it strikes me that this sounds almost like a commercial that a small child would write. You know, where they have an idea of what sorts of actors and actions are in a commercial, but kind of miss what is actually going on or why?

    I agree that it was pretty terrible as far as portraying the company positively. I mostly took away from it, “Nationwide: We’ll bully, ignore, and rush you.”

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