Farmers Insurance Looks to Grow with Social Media Review

Farmers Insurance Looks to Grow with Social Media Review

Steve’s breakdown: Here’s reason #43 to subscribe to our report. In October we reported Famers Insurance brings in a hired gun for CMO which was your hint to call the client. And if you did, you’d already be in this review.

LOS ANGELES, CA: Farmers Insurance is searching for a social-media agency of record, the company’s social-media director Ryon Harms told Ad Age.

The review comes as the company aims to continue its momentum in the space, he added. But it also comes on the heels of recent top executive changes.

Michael Linton joined as CMO in October 2011, and Jeff Dailey was promoted to CEO this past January. “Before [the changes] we had a lot of support. But there was still a learning curve,” said Mr. Harms. “Now the executive team is even more supportive and open to it.”

As part of an objective to compete with high-profile brands in the social space — Mr. Harms listed names like Coca-Cola and Starbucks — he sent the RFP to 10 firms recommended by social-media directors of large brands. The list includes pure-play social-media shops as well as large PR and ad firms with robust social-media departments. It’s understood that Farmers’ brand agency RPA is participating in the review.

“I’m trying to build things out to scale so we can benefit all of our business units,” said Mr. Harms. “We have a strategy and know what we’re trying to achieve, but what we don’t have is the creative minds. We need someone to help us on the creative execution of strategy.”

Rather than list a budget in the RFP, the company said it plans to wait and “see what they come back to us with.” The budget is a relatively small portion of the overall marketing spend, Mr. Harms said, but the winning agency should find ways to “leverage the money” the company is already spending by supporting existing partnerships and programs. Submissions are due May 1. Soon after, three front-runners will compete on a creative project, and a decision is expected in early June.

When Mr. Harms joined the company in late 2010, he said the company hadn’t anticipated it would also need external social support. “Over the last year, we’ve had some pretty solid success in the social space,” he said. “When all that awareness starts beating a social drum around the company, the amount of demand coming to me is more than I can handle. It grew to be bigger than I am.”

One of the company’s social success stories was a Guinness World Record for getting the most likes on a Facebook page — 2,047,058 — in 24 hours. Another effort involved placing a hashtag on the back of Kasey Kahne’s racecar — the Nascar star was also a Farmers spokesman. More generally, the company has been growing its agent presence online, particularly on Facebook, and would like to continue to build on that following, noted Mr. Harms.

Still, Mr. Harms said, the company’s added investment in social doesn’t mean that it’s looking to go outside of its comfort zone as a challenger brand. “We don’t want to be No. 1 in insurance,” he added. “We want our brand seen as killing it in social across all brands.”


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