In the crowded field of insurance advertising and marketing, comedy seems to be king, queen and court jester. Run through the brands—Allstate, State Farm, Aflac, Progressive, Farmers and, of course, Geico—and you’ll see the battle for the chuckle for a product that most people don’t necessarily want to think about, but can’t avoid.
Taking a decidedly different approach, Guardian, a 158-year-old insurance company has gone in a completely different direction with an emotional, cinematic ad that shares the stories of real people. What’s interesting is that this is the first major brand campaign in the company’s century and a half-plus existence. It also includes a complete rebrand, surfacing the Fortune 250 company more aggressively into the consumer consciousness.
The beautiful 60-second spot was created by Omelet in Los Angeles. The film is filled with mini-vignettes and is an empathetic rallying cry of togetherness as evidenced by the simple, yet powerful voiceover accompanying the stirring imagery: “When you care about someone more than yourself, you change, you become stronger, more determined, more courageous. You become part of something bigger.”
The ad’s seamless production and purposeful pacing helps capture the viewer’s attention and brings these mini-stories to life. Interestingly, behind the scenes and throughout the casting process, real stories from the actual people portrayed in the film were shared and anchored the work. For example, the team learned about Anita and Joanna, identical twin sisters whose bond was strengthened after a car accident 20 years ago, and Ruba and Roua, sisters and Syrian refugees who are starting over in their new community in America.
Further enhancing the film’s realness, the actors hired had backgrounds that intersected with the people they were playing on the screen. In fact, the direction of the creative morphed and changed throughout the process as the Omelet team listened carefully to all of the stories to ensure accuracy.
“Weaving our cast’s real experiences and backstories into the narrative allowed us to reach a level of authenticity that was extremely humbling,” said Florian Bodet, creative director of Omelet.
Guardian, though well-known in the insurance industry and highly successful despite not doing much marketing aside from some minimal direct-to-consumer, was founded in 1860 by a German civil rights lawyer looking to help create a better life for his fellow immigrants. That heritage and today’s current climate of questionable societal values helped prompt the brand’s overhaul.
“It’s the right moment in history, to emphatically state, that core values matter. They bring us together and make us stronger,” said Sherry Pudloski, Guardian’s chief communications officer. “Telling Guardian’s story in this campaign will remind people of that, and at the same time introduce our brand and share what makes it special.”
Aside from the film that anchors the campaign, a roster of partners is helping bring Guardian’s brand out of the relative shadows. Omelet oversees strategy and creative for the integrated campaign and brand launch, The Working Assembly developed the new logo and visual identity, Analog Folk is focused on digital success and Swellshark is advising on communications and media strategy. Marketing consultancy Sunday Dinner worked with the brand to bring all of the partners together.
“Sometimes work hits you square in the gut. It was the kind of opportunity where you know you’re working on the right brand, with the right people, with the right idea. There was real and earnest chemistry held between us, Guardian and all our agency partners. You don’t get that every day,” said Thas Naseemuddeen, chief strategy officer at Omelet. “I’m really grateful to bring this incredible 158-year-old brand to market the right way.”
Guardian Life Insurance
Chief Communications Officer: Sherry Pudloski
Vice President, Brand & Digital: Julie Winskie
Assistant Vice President, Brand Management: Kristin O’Toole
Director of Digital Strategy: Rumana Hafesjee
Chief Content Officer: Mike Wallen
Creative Director: Florian Bodet
Associate Creative Director, Copywriter: Tiffani Harcrow
Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Brianna Lohr
Associate Creative Director, Copywriter: Jimmy Barker
Associate Creative Director, Art Director: Andrew Rutledge
Chief Production Office: Dan Ruthr
Producer: Caitlin McBride
Art Buyer: Miranda Kendrick
Chief Strategy Officer: Thas Naseemuddeen
Associate Director, Communications Strategy: Alexandra Heide
Senior Strategist: Riley Strand
Executive Director, Brand: Andrew Krensky
Brand Director: Eliza Wan
Brand Manager: Anthony Fernandez
Brand Coordinator: Emma Stier
Editor (BTS): William Mason
Colorist (BTS): Corey Vent
Composer: Luke Atencio
On-Set Photographer: Michael Rubinstein
Director: Dan DiFelice
Director of Photography: Stuart Winecoff
Executive Producer: Jeff McDougall
Producer: Max Knies
Editor: Graham Chisholm
Assistant Editor: Drew Neuhart
Managing Director: Robert Owens
EP: Elexis Stearn
Color EP: Meghan Lang
Color Producer: Rebecca Boorsma
Producer: Michael Heil
Colorist: Ricky Gausis
Lead Flame: Sam Shiftlett
Flame Assistant: Joshua Pena
Producer: Justin Tripp
Art Director: Brian Close
Animator: Lessa Millet
Animator: Rad Mora
Sound Designer and Mixer: Jeff Malen,
Audio Assistant: Meg Ochs
Audio Assistant: Chris Nungary
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
Illustrator: Rob Bailey