Friday, June 13, 2008

Let's just take a step back

I admire what Esurance has been able to do in the insurance world, but I think it's time to rein it in a little.

What the fuck? I'm serious - there may not be a more annoying 30 seconds on television right now if you ignore all messages and just focus on the ad's construction. I don't even know what "Esurance Fan Favorite" means - I'm guessing some kind of website vote of the sort, "Which song would you like us to use in an ad?" - but the fans needed some better choices if this is what won. The guy's clearly proficient with a guitar, but he can't possibly be serious with this - it's like he's just playing some awful joke on music. And if he is serious, I don't even know what to say.

But this is yet another step in Esurance's not-terribly-graceful path from "solid, to-the-point advertising campaign with an appealing look" to "choking on our own popularity." This ad, for example, has nothing to do with anything. I can't recall seeing another Esurance ad that didn't explicitly lay out their "Quote, Buy, Print" mantra; this plays more like the opening credits for the upcoming Erin Esurance animated TV series. (Frankly, I'm getting a little worried now.)

The problem is that Erin Esurance got a little too popular. Like, popular in ways that it's fucking creepy how popular. I'm not going to link to the page where she's naked, but I'm sure you can figure out how to use Google (you got here, didn't you?). And that's the unofficial stuff; we all know how scary the internet can get. But there's an "Erin Esurance Fan Fiction" page on Esurance's own website. (The worst part about that is that there's no indication whatsoever that it was actually written by some fan, which means they probably forced some intern to churn it out. I mean, it's just as well, because the last thing we needed was a company posting, like, Erin/Mrs. Butterworth slash fiction on its website, but why include it at all?)

Esurance hasn't exactly dissuaded anyone from this type of behavior, either; her ass is drawn a little too lovingly in this ad (about 12 seconds in). They've even got a helpful "photo gallery" (really just a bunch of stills from the various ads) on their site, where we find this shot from a couple seconds later in that same ad:

You see what I mean by "a little too lovingly," right?

There's nothing inherently wrong with sex appeal in commercials, and a subject like auto insurance couldn't hurt to have some sprucing up... but we're talking animated characters here. And not just that, but pretty much actively inviting the audience to masturbate to said character. It's like having Jessica Rabbit sell mutual funds; possibly effective, but a little weird.

I guess if it creates an army of Esurance loyalists, then more power to them; they got what they wanted. But that brings me back to the ad that started this whole discussion. I hate it for some of the same reasons why I hate this Mac vs. PC ad - it's just a kind of weird in-joke for people who already have Esurance. It strips the message out of the ad entirely - if, for some reason, you didn't know or couldn't guess what Esurance was from the name, this ad would baffle you until the last two seconds, by which point you would probably have already turned it off because the guy's voice is so annoying. This is an effective ad? It's just catering to the fans. Maybe if you're a big beer company you can make your commercial as ridiculous and unconnected to beer as you want; your product sells itself. Does Esurance sell itself? Not sure we're at that point yet. Pull it back in, guys.


Quivering P. Landmass said...

I guess that guy is a real artist from Seattle going by the name of PWRFL POWER. He's going on tour, too:

9/20 - Champaign, IL - Pygmalion Fest!! Fire up the jalopy and buy some extra esurance, because we're going, Windier!!

Windier E. Megatons said...

Yeah, he's a real guy, which is just weird. And he worked his stage name into the song lyrics? That's just lame.