Liberty Mutual Doubles Spend To Back Web-Based Films

Boston-based insurance company Liberty Mutual is doubling its marketing spend this year to back a raft of Web-based films that carry its "do the right thing" theme to a Web movie effort, The Responsibility Project, at

The project involves films about people faced with ethical choices. The company has also launched a new raft of TV ads that evolve the responsibility theme it launched in 2006. Hill Holliday, Boston handles.

Speaking at Thursday's Association of National Advertisers' conference in New York, Stephen Sullivan, SVP/communications for Liberty Mutual Group and chairman of ANA's Board of Directors, said that programs like The Responsibility Project reflect the maturity of the Web.

"As online platforms mature and as peoples' media behavior begins to be established, innovative ideas like Responsibility Project may not need network TV unless it can prove value or delivers an audience and works with advertisers," Sullivan said.



The new campaign includes a number of ads, each of which is a vignette following one person "doing the right thing." That's a departure from earlier ads, which have had a "pay it forward" aesthetic, with different people acting altruistically in chain-reaction fashion. Sullivan said the ads will also live online.

"We made a major financial commitment to produce 20 original films this year that will be put on our Web site and will be published in a way that will be very easy to share. People will click and drag and put them in e-mails," he said.

He added that the company is not a big player in the segment in terms of media spend, but the company will double media spend this year. "The insurance category is the most competitive ad category and has grown by double digits," he said. "Our competitors have raised the bar and so have we. But, while we have doubled overall spend, we have also doubled online spend."

Sullivan pointed out that the company's target--buyers of car and homeowner's insurance--gives Liberty Mutual a narrow aim. "We want to address large numbers of people and establish an emotional connection with them, but we don't have a huge disparity in demographics."

The company is continuing its activity on PBS this year with sponsorship of "The American Experience," "Antique Road Show," and a new program called "From the Top," about kids who are classical musicians. "The PBS audience is a good one for us," he said.

Sullivan describes today's media landscape as a three-dimensional mosaic.

"It used to be you would do your media plan with three broad paintbrushes (covering the three major networks at the time)," he said. "Today, you have all these little pieces of ceramic and glass that have to be evaluated and put together in a picture that is very unlike the broad brush we used 20 yeas ago. PBS, for example, is one of the pieces."

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