Don’t Kill Off Customers with Bad Ad Campaigns

Ad campaigns can come back to haunt their creators, as in the case of an insurance retailer mocking a competitor


Advertising campaigns need to be looked at from every angle. What may seem like a great idea at creative meetings might backfire, with, for example, potential customers taking offense, not understanding the concept or taking no action. It’s smarter, then, to examine every aspect of a campaign before releasing it into the wild.

If 15 minutes can save you 15% or more, how much will 7½ minutes save you?

That’s essentially the idea behind Esurance’s new ad campaign directed at competitor Geico, whose own campaign is “15 minutes will save you 15% or more.”

But sometimes, in an effort to grab a really good idea before it vanishes in the air, companies either don’t think it through or don’t properly pay it off. Esurance’s hard-core spoofing of Geico’s timeless “15 minutes will save you 15% or more,” is just that: A beautiful idea that doesn’t come to fruition.

First off, it’s a really good idea:


  • Everyone knows the “15 percent or more” campaign. Even Geico came up with a campaign saying just that.
  • Currently, 30% of Geico’s policies are sold on the web. As that number increases, it would be natural for Geico to come up with “Now, 7½ minutes will keep saving you 15% or more”.

But Esurance’s new campaign shoots itself in the foot in three ways:



  1. It ridicules its potential buyers.
  2. It doesn’t pay off on the implicit promise.
  3. And it leaves itself open to ridicule.

Let’s look at these one at a time.

1. It ridicules its potential buyers

Obviously, the Esurance campaign aims squarely at the fabled “millennial” market. In many people’s minds, these millennials are more tech savvy, more connected, more open to new technology.

ad campaigns

ad campaigns

There are two problems with that:

First, car buyers in the United States are old.

Polk, the global automotive industry intelligence firm, found that the average age of car buyers today was 51 years old in 2011, three years older than buyers in 2007. In 2011, 40% of all buyers were aged 55 years or older, up from about 30% just four years earlier. And in keeping with much commentary about today’s youth, only 11% of all new vehicle buyers in 2011 were aged 34 years or younger, down from almost 16% four years earlier. Perhaps today’s young people have less interest in cars, don’t have the money for a new car or both.






Marcelo Salup
Marcelo Salup
Marcelo Salup's 30+ years career in advertising covers a wide range of everything. A wide range of roles -he began his career on the creative side, won 2 Addies, changed to media, included strategic planning and consumer insight and has been an agency owner several times. A wide range of venues: Spain, Latin America, International and the U.S.  A wide range of clients that go from automotive through banking, electronics, fast food, soft drinks and much more. His professional philosophy can be summed up in four words: “Only performance is real”. Today, he runs a successful strategic planning consulting,  Website

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