I hesitate to criticize a company that sponsors a major golf tour, but the current TV campaign from Nationwide Insurance is a big duck-hook out-of-bounds. I don’t have anything against humor in advertising, but I do have two requirements: first, the humor should revolve around whatever makes the advertised product or service special; second, the humor should be, you know, humorous.
Unfortunately, Nationwide whiffs badly on both counts. Based on the many ads in this campaign, there appears to be nothing special about the company. Each ad focuses on a different story, none of which is particularly compelling or convincing. The ad linked to above talks about how Nationwide tailors their policies to meet each customer’s needs. This one with Jack Hanna claims that having all of your different types of insurance with Nationwide will result in better “harmony,” whatever that means. Other ads focus on other promises. The result: there’s no way to know what Nationwide stands for or what makes them special.
Moreover, the ads aren’t remotely humorous: their “The World’s Greatest Spokesperson in the World” concept isn’t funny, the guy who plays him isn’t funny, and he isn’t given anything funny to say.
Frankly, I’ve always questioned the strategic wisdom of Nationwide sponsoring a golf tour. I mean, what’s the connection between golf and insurance? More to the point, how does Nationwide’s sponsorship of a golf tour affect current and prospective policyholders’ view of Nationwide as an insurance provider? If there is a connection, Nationwide’s ads fail to make it. My guess is that the CEO of Nationwide is a big golf fan.
Either that, or they’re simply hoping that golf fans will want to reward Nationwide for supporting the tour. If that’s their strategy, I suggest that they start creating commercials that aren’t going to annoy viewers and destroy whatever goodwill their sponsorship is generating.
Better yet, I suggest that they lose their “jack of all trades” approach and figure out one aspect of the insurance business in which they can truly excel. And if they decide to use a humorous approach to tell their new story, find an agency that actually has a sense of humor.