“For a great low rate you can get online, go to The General and save some time.”
– The General
That’s a jingle you haven’t heard in a while. The General, a car insurance company that has been around since 1963, recently rebranded and did away with their jingle in pursuit of a more self-aware and higher-end look and feel. With Shaq as their spokesman, their commercials say out loud what we all were thinking “We… misjudged them based on their commercials.” The insurance industry accounts for a huge portion of all advertising and the General, while not the biggest player, is certainly a staple of insurance advertising and so, after a quick overview of the insurance advertising landscape overall, we’re going to dig in on some of the specifics of this rebrand.
The General Advertising Rebrand
The rebrand happened at the beginning of this year, but The General has clearly been trying to improve their image for a while. Shaq has been their main spokesperson since 2016, and he features heavily in their rebranding commercials, but they also teamed up with Snoop Dogg last year as part of what might be called their “soft rebrand” which has been going on since late 2019, early 2020. They started this soft rebrand with commercials that heavily featured Shaq and talked more about their app. Later last year, they began airing commercials that stopped featuring the CGI general and stopped using the entirety of the slogan. Either that wasn’t enough or this full rebrand was always in the works, because in January of 2021, they went all in.
The first ad to air from the General’s rebrand featured Shaq sitting at a lunch table with a child when two men approach and apologize for not letting him sit with them for suggesting that The General was a good car insurance company. This is still the most aired ad from The General since the rebrand began in January and it set the tone for every commercial to follow. Each commercial features Shaq ostracized in some way from his friends or coworkers who then apologize to him for ostracizing him for suggesting that The General is good insurance. In every commercial they say, “We… misjudged them based on their commercials.”
This rebrand is unique, most brands revamps involve calling attention to what’s new, not what wasn’t working. Think the Subway Refresh that’s going on right now. In Subway commercials, everything is about the new – new sandwiches, new ingredients, new spokespeople, new options, new everything. The General rebrand commercials only call out the old, they talk about how bad the old commercials were and that’s about it. They do mention that The General provides great insurance and they show the app, but the only thing they call out is how the old commercials don’t match the offering. It’s an odd rebrand for sure, but quite possibly a very effective one.
You’ve almost certainly seen these ads from the general, especially if you watch courtroom tv – over 45% of ads for The General air on Courtroom TV – but you may be surprised to hear that the total number of market-level ad occurrences are actually down in 2021 relative to 2020. Insurance advertising in general is up relative to 2020 and The General ranks 6th in number of market-level occurrences among insurance advertisers over the past six months. As you may have guessed, Geico is the top insurance advertiser, followed by Liberty Mutual and Progressive.