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American Family integrated push has NBC, CBS, MSN as partners

American Family Insurance launched an integrated campaign this month along with NBC Universal, CBS Radio, Katz Advantage and MSN. Mindshare, American Family’s agency of record, developed the effort. The campaign includes three Web sites, social networking and radio promotions.

The goal of the initiative is to position American Family as a leader in family safety and protection and to tout its technology, service and advice, said Telisa Yancy, advertising director at American Family.

“We were trying to figure out the best way to get our message in front of the consumer and engage them,” she said. “These partner sites allowed online users to engage at a deep level.”

David Lang, president of North America for Mindshare Entertainment, said the insurance industry is a highly visible one with many brands. A major goal of the campaign, he added, was for American Family to compete with competitors that have the luxury of bigger budgets.

“When you don’t have the media spend that competitors have, you can’t just shout your message louder,” he said. “You have to reach consumers in new and different ways to compete, and that’s what we’ve done.”

NBC Universal and Mindshare launched “In Gayle We Trust,” a 10-episode Web series of comedic digital shorts about insurance agent Gayle Evans, played by actress Elisa Donovan. The series was written by former The Office writer Brent Forrester.

American Family’s homepage drives users to the microsite InGayleWeTrust.com, where the videos can be watched. The series is also being promoted in commercials on NBC and USA Network, on NBC Universal’s digital and mobile platforms and on major video-on-demand networks and social networks.

MSN’s BuildingABrighterFuture.msn.com microsite features advice from finance columnist Liz Weston, who gives tips, writes blog entries and appears in video shorts. On this site, families can submit a video audition to win an in-home visit and personalized finance plan from Weston.

Simultaneously, CBS Radio and Katz Advantage are hosting a “Family you choose” radio promotion on 140 stations in more than 70 markets. Sixty-second radio spots encourage listeners to visit FamilyYouChoose.com to nominate those who make a difference in their lives by registering their e-mail address and uploading a “Shout Out.” Users can also vote online for one winner to receive a trip to New York.

“We really wanted to do the radio portion of this campaign correctly,” said Glenn Higgins, VP of strategic sales for CBS Radio’s Altitude Group. “We wanted to cross-promote and cross-pollinate these sites so that they worked together seamlessly. There are so many parts to the campaign, but it really works together in a holistic way.

The companies also used social networking to reach users. For example, NBC reached out to Facebook fans of The Office to promote “In Gayle We Trust.”

Yancy said the benefits of using social media are two-fold. First, married women — an important target demographic for American Family Insurance — is one of the fastest growing demographics in the social media sphere.

“Secondly, the younger demographic, who may not be in the market for insurance right now, will one day be in the group of adults that will prefer us to our competitors,” Yancy added.

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