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People Tired of Sappy Coronavirus Messaging, Insurance Ad Study Shows

In March, brand advertisers realised they needed to dial down on the product selling, and dial up brand values and reassurance. Things have begun to shift. Brands have begun retiring b-roll archive footage in favour of improvised sets that lean into working-from-home and Zoom-call scenarios. Madison Avenue is after the new ‘new normal’.  

For insurance brands, retaining customer loyalty whilst appealing to new audiences is a challenge at the best of times, let alone during a crisis. With purchase consideration limited to annual renewal periods, ad frequency must remain high even during lockdown. Along with their strong and steady business models, that explains why the insurance industry has been one of the top spending ad categories the past several weeks.  

Insurance advertisers are manoeuvring against a confusing backdrop of contradictory political messages such as “back to business” while trusted health officials advocate “continue quarantine and social distancing.” It’s a recipe for confusion and mixed sentiment.   

Customers need assurance more than ever. However, the release of the parody video, “Every Covid-19 Commercial is Exactly the Same," signalled that sappy and serious messaging just isn’t working anymore.  

To gain a fresh pulse on consumer sentiment in one of the hottest ad categories, we used Realeyes GO! To measure attention and emotional response to 12 of the newest mainstream insurance TV ads. Our study makes clear: it’s time to pivot, but it’s not quite back to business just yet.   


GO! Reports Key Trends:  

  1. Strong response to humour signals a pivotal shift from sappy COVID-19 ads  
  2. Older people are up to 77% more engaged 
  3. Women are 39% more responsive to the latest crop of insurance TV ads 
  4. Back to business isn't the 'new normal'  


Insurance Advertisements During Covid-19 

Ranked By Realeyes Score | U.S. May 20, 2020 








Industry Benchmark 55  
Progressive WFH Tech Issue 68 41 89 45 89
Progressive WFH Role Play 66 55 76 52 84
GEICO Thank You 66 51 79 55 77
Progressive WFH Mara Unmuted 63 53 71 58 68
Liberty Mutual LiMu Emu 57 48 73 66 53
State Farm Abuela Alexa (Spanish) 41 26 64 35 53
State Farm Predictions 35 33 43 37 52
Farmers In This Together 35 36 45 30 60
State Farm Real Upgrade 33 18 56 36 31
State Farm Good Neighbor Relief 29 30 37 51 18
GEICO The Road Ahead 25 16 48 26 41
Liberty Mutual Not Alone 12 5 25 8 24
> View dashboard


Performance Varies Widely 

The Realeyes Score for the group of 12 insurance ads studied was 46, compared to an average of 50 among all 26,000 videos  in the Realeyes database.  While the category performed near average, the range of scores varied widely, from very low at 12 to very high at 68. 

Realeyes uses front-facing cameras on Internet devices to passively measure the attention and emotional response of opt-in viewers of video and digital experiences. The  Realeyes  Score  is an indicator of brand equity, factoring in a video’s ability to generate and sustain viewer interest, achieve a strong emotional moment, and establish a lasting positive impression. The  Realeyes Score is an index  ranging from 0 to 100. 


Humour Signals a Shift in Market  

The five strongest ads embrace lockdown as a comedy vehicle, using familiar characters and imagery from conference calls and social media. It acknowledges the crisis whilst connecting with the audience through entertainment. 

Liberty Mutual ‘Not Alone’ is the weakest performer of the 12 ads and features the same earnest trends that were parodied in Microsoft Sam’s "Every Covid-19 Commercial is Exactly the Same" whereas the LiMu Emu ad with a Will Ferrell style comedic performance yields a significantly better performance.   
Both GEICO and Liberty Mutual are representative of this switch, as seen with two ads each with two completely different approaches and performance outcomes.   





Older Age Group More Engaged by 77% 

Insurance is far from a one-size-fits-all proposition. Lifestyles and life-stages have become more polarised between the two age groups. Unlike previous generations, home ownership has become far more unattainable, affecting marriage numbers, having children, high cost purchases such as cars and other life-stages associated with insurance products.  

GEICO’s ‘Thank You’ had did hit the benchmark score of 55 with the under 35s, which featured social media footage of different people (babies and pets) sharing their lockdown experiences. It also exceeded the maximum happiness norm of over 26,000 videos, not just the insurance category benchmark.  


Women More Engaged by Over 39% 

Women are the key decision makers when it comes to insurance according to a recent study by AXA Insurance – the product message matters. The Attention curve across all of these insurance ads shows how women were particularly more engaged during the last 10 seconds of the ad when the key message is delivered.  


Back to Business isn’t the New Normal

People want to go back to normal. Stores want to re-open. Brands want to get back to selling. The desire to escape the weight of COVID-19 exhaustion welcomes some comic relief. Sentiment is shifting week on week. With low scores for serious brandstanding, and mixed results for ‘business as usual’ ads it’s essential to test concepts early and re-purpose with caution too.