Video of the Week – Esurance is Killing It!

The San Francisco based insurance company Esurance has been a pioneer in online car insurance since 1999. In October 2011, they were bought by Allstate, for about $1 billion. Less than two months after Esurance became part of the Allstate family, they were already working with Allstate’s marketing agency, the Leo Burnett Company, in addition to their long-time partner Havas Group (formely MPG). In December 2011, Esurance came out with a new campaign and tagline: “Insurance for the modern world”. This slogan has been used quite memorably with The Office actor John Krasinski narrating their ads, even appearing during the 2014 Superbowl commercial.

Since most of their campaigns have been successful hits, it has been hard to choose just one of them. So, we will review them in general as they are all based on the same idea. As mentioned before, Esurance has used a specific tagline for the last three years: “Insurance for the modern world”. Esurance has also been comparing itself to its competitors, as Esurance claims that they take half the time to save you money on insurance compared to the others. To be precise, by making this statement, they are specifically targeting GEICO, the #2 insurance company in the USA.

To make those companies feel like they are “backwards” and “out of date”, Leo Burnett Agency has been using different characters to show how “out of touch” and awkward with technology their competitors are.

Let’s start with Beatrice, who’s a nice old lady that manages to be comfortable with modern technologies. Well, at least that is what she thinks. Have a look at the first ever one made for this 2014 campaign where she is using “Facebook”:

You can also check out Larry, who thinks DVDs have to be rewound like a VHS, or believes that he finally got a flat screen TV:

How about Earl? Does he care about the new iPhone 6? I don’t think so:

Milton is a selfie enthusiast, but he doesn’t have an Instagram account. He doesn’t even have a camera actually:

But, I encourage you to meet Shirlee. She is a record-smasher in Candy Crush. Nope, not the same game as you might play on your phone:

Esurance has been using the same technique. It features old people people who are uncomfortable with new technologies, speaking of their new technological discovery. They might have heard people posting pictures on their wall, so they try to do this as well, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same meaning for everyone. Same thing with a smartphone or some apps. These commercials all ends with a “Don’t live in somone else’s world. Live in the modern world!”. That simple, funny slogan works great with their target market. You can easily see your parents or grandparents doing the things you see in one of their ads!

Remember, Esurance is an online insurance company which was one of the first back in 1999. Like the company used to say prior to their 2014 campaign, Esurance was “born online and raised by technology”. To Ensurance, everyone wants to be online right now but doesn’t necessarily know how to do it properly. They might be right. Building a community and “how to” skills or gaining experience aren’t gained overnight. It takes time, and that is why the third largest insurance company in the US needed them. GEICO, on the other hand, spends 5 to 6 times more in advertising per year than Esurance, which probably proves that an online company can control their costs way better than a traditional company.

It’s simple but extremely funny. To me, it is one of the best campaign in 2014. Be sure to watch the Beatrice Tech Savvy videos.

Michelob Ultra

Michelob would like to become your workout partner. But, should you let it?

I know summer is way past us, but we can still enjoy a good beer, right? As we all have different tastes, there will be people that are enjoying water-beer like Budweiser, a cool Danish beer like Heineken or maybe a good old Belgian beer like a Chimay. As for most people, beer to me is about sharing a moment in front of a game, at the beach, in a park or just by yourself on your balcony after a long and stressful week.

Today, we feature the American brand Michelob, which is part of the same group as Budweiser named Anheuser-Busch, presenting its beer called Ultra. To give you a heads up, it has less calories and fewer carbs. I find it’s an odd choice to give a name like that to a beer when you have in reality less things. It’s like if the iPhone 6 Plus was smaller and had less power, don’t you think?

Let’s talk about the ad now. It starts with a few people running on the beach, a couple of girls with beers in hand walking towards a lake and a girl getting geared up to surf while the voiceover explains that “[we] treat every minute like it is a chance to do something”. On the background, the song “Burn” by Ellie Goulding gets turned up as soon as we see a bunch of people starting their race, entering the water and climbing a mountain.

Then the beer appears with its totally cliché images of an ice cold beer with drops of condensation sliding down the bottle while the narrator explains that if you are always moving it is because you are “constantly searching for the next opportunity to make the most of what life has to offer”, and that our “time is valuable so [we can] reach something better” while you see actors in different places enjoying a Michelob Ultra Beer. It simply ends by saying that the Michelob Ultra is ”the superior light beer”.

I won’t explain further, as I believe everything is wrong in this ad. To start, I don’t know why the Euro RSCG Agency thought that seeing people running everywhere will give people the urge to get a beer, but beer isn’t recommended after an exercise like running. So when I see someone running, then drinking a beer, it makes me laugh and wonder how misinformed people might be. It doesn’t matter about calories or carbs, there is alcohol in a beer, and alcohol isn’t good for your muscles to recover, that is Biology 101!

We have a beer company who’s so proud to have only 95 calories and 2.6g of carbs, but forgets that alcohol isn’t good for a sport person. Don’t get me wrong, I am sports person and I drink beer, but I am aware of that fact, so I won’t have one right after any sports activity. Oh, and just so you know, I will never get a light beer, and that’s the same thing with diet soda. Why? Well, what’s the point of it? If you are already counting your calories, should you drink soda/beer anyway? I am pretty sure that you shouldn’t.

So, in addition of having a, in my opinion, stupid product, Michelob and its agency manage to make it even worse by showing their target market running before getting a beer. Now, they will make believe that it’s good to have a beer after an effort. No, it’s not ! You might enjoy it, but it is not good at all for your body.

After all, they weren’t wrong on every level, we really want to reach something better. How about a liter of water and some fruit?

Fun Friday Post – Our Favourite Halloween Pranks!

sun-o-lanternHalloween is not just about collecting candy with the kiddies. It’s also about scaring the s**t out of people! Even the Sun got in on the fun this year turning itself into a sun o’ lantern :)

Every year YouTubers take Halloween pranks to the next level and we can’t help but laugh at other peoples fear. As a lead up to the spookiest week of the year we’d like to share with you our favourite Halloween pranks – enjoy!

Chainsaw Massacre – The Poet

What better than a retelling, in prank format, of one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Set in a parking lot the “VitalydTV” team put the fear of god into these unsuspecting passers-by …

Friday the 13th – The Saint

Another great retelling, in prank format, of classic horror. Who doesn’t like a good Jason Voorhees prank? This is a classic set up – lake, country, and hockey mask – priceless! You gotta love the “hero” in the first clip who throws the girl into the water as he runs in fear. If that is, or should I say was, his girlfriend? What a lucky girl!

Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise – Leila

Who can forget last years telekinetic coffee shop prank? It was one of the most viral videos of the year with close to 60 million views to date on YouTube and climbing. In this prank a young girl in a coffee shop has telekinetic powers that she unwilling uses on a man who spills coffee on her inspiring ultimate fear in those “lucky” enough to have walked into to the set up. On a side note, you gotta love the woman at roughly 1:42 who is screaming while filming it on her phone :)

Drive Thru Invisible Driver – Lisa

Really? Gurl! Hello? Are you serious? This is a classic halloween prank, or prank in general, and we’ve seen many iterations of it over the years. It never fails to inspire fear in the form of laughter.

Devil Baby Attack – Moniba

Ok, not really a Halloween prank, but a really good piece of prankvertising that scared the s**t out of New Yorkers, which is not an easy task. Back in January of this year the “DevilsDueNYC” team set up a prank on the streets of Manhattan for the upcoming movie Devils Due. They built a fully animatronic devil baby and remote controlled stroller for this prank. Oh, and at roughly 1:35 the baby gives the finger to the NYPD :)

Killer Clown Returns – Drew

Another great pre-halloween prank from the “DmPranksProductions” team. This is one in a series of pranks that features a psycho killer clown. The music box is a classic touch and just the right thing to reel people in. I’m sure these guys have something incredible planned for Halloween.

What Does Social Proof Have to do with Human Decision Making?

We all know that when we are put in a new social situation, the best thing to do is to take cues from those around us, especially those with more experience in the situation, in order to fit in. For example, when we start a new job we often look to others to gather social cues on how we are supposed to act, what we are supposed to do and even when we are supposed to laugh. This is nothing new in human behaviour, after all, we are all tribal beings.

Looking for social cues from our peers is part of a much larger condition of human behaviour. As tribal and herd animals, humans feel most comfortable when they are assured they are following the norms of their specific cultural group. In behavioural economics this is called social proof.

Social proof is the psychological occurrence where people assume the actions of others or the actions of the majority is the correct behaviour for a given situation.

Social proofing is a powerful tool for marketing and advertising that has been used for decades. Think of the old McDonald’s signs promoting the number of burgers sold. That is a prime example of Popularity Social Proof.


McDonald’s is not the only company doing this. In fact it was a popular marketing technique long before Behavioural Economics ever became mainstream. However now we have a name for it and a much deeper understanding of why humans care about social proof.

With the increasing amount of online marketing, advertising and purchasing, it’s no surprise that social proofing has exploded in the last decade. Here are a few popular ways of using social proof to impact consumer behaviour:

Expert or Celebrity Social Proof

An expert on a specific subject or a celebrity gives their stamp of approval to a product or service. This causes people to actually judge the product or service not on its own merits but on their impression of the expert or celebrity. For instance if you believe the expert to be stylish, cool and hip, you will consider the product they like as also being stylish, cool and hip.


Case in point: Air Jordan’s are still the best selling sneaker in Nike’s history.

 User Social Proof

User social proof occurs when a user openly approves a product or service. It is often found online in the form of customer testimonials, ratings, likes and reviews. Seeing other people believe in a product, talk about it and rate it causes people to feel confident in the product and often persuades them to buy it.

unbounce Unbounce, an online landing page builder, does a great job of using customer testimonials to assure customers of their excellent product.

Wisdom of the Crowds Social Proof

Wisdom of the Crowds Social Proof is when a product or service is so widely adopted or liked that the user has no need to question its validity or quality and easily buys into the idea. This often occurs when a certain threshold is achieved. For example it is easier to convince someone to watch a YouTube video with 1,000,000 views than if the video only had 100 views. The larger number of hits the first video has stands to validate the quality of video. It is also what helps videos go viral.


The Gangnam Style video got over 1 billion hits in 5 months.

Wisdom of your friends Social Proof

Wisdom of your friends Social Proof is when our peers or friends like or approve products or services. Since we both like our friends and consider them to be similar to us, we often find it easy to quickly like or adopt this product of service. From a simple recommendation of a product or service by a friend, to seeing a brand liked by a friend on Facebook, what our friends approve impacts our feeling about products and services.

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As you can see, social proof plays a huge role in marketing and advertising. But that’s not all there is to it. The above examples all fit into what is called positive social proof, where the desired behaviour is in line with what is shown. For instance a customer review says they love the product. This is the dominant way of using social proof.

However, with an even greater understanding of the dynamics of social proof it is also possible to use negative social proof. Negative social proof means using examples of behaviour which is not desired, in order to get the outcome that is desired.

This version of social proof is rarely used because it is easy to use it incorrectly. Here is an example of how negative social proof fails.

The Petrified Forest National Park in the USA noticed small pieces of their petrified forsest were being stolen by visitors. This was leading to the erosion of the National Park by visitors. In an attempt to stop people from stealing the petrified wood the park put up sign reading:

“Many past visitors have removed wood from the park, changing the natural state of the Petrified Forest”

This actually led to an increase in destroying trees since people thought it was ok to do since so many others had. They felt they were following the norm and therefore didn’t feel discouraged in stealing the petrified wood.

However, if used correctly, negative social proofing can be amazingly effective. Here is a great example:

The experts over at Draft FCB Institute of Decision Making used negative social proof in an ingenious way. While working to come up with a marketing campaign for Dead Space 2, a violent video game aimed at teenage and young adults guys, the Draft FCB teamed realized that what the users wanted the most was a game their mom’s would hate. Draft FCB then produced a commercial showing how disgusted mothers were by this game. This use of negative social proofing worked to re-enforce the branding of the video game and led to an increase in its sales.

So there you have it, proof that social proof is a great marketing and advertising tool. When understood properly it can be used to help shape decision-making moments for current and future customers.

Video of the Week – The Boy Who Beeps by GE

‘Weird yet awesome, and interesting but still confusing’ - the thoughts that went through my mind while watching GE’s new video.

This short video talks about an epic tale of a boy who only beeps and can communicate with machines. As he grows older, he discovers his capabilities and what he can do. His special powers allows him to speak with the machines that surround him. When “the boy who beeps” converses with the machines, he is making them work better that benefits everyone.

GE tells a powerful and poignant story about the abilities and capabilities of their Industrial Internet who speaks the language of industry. The ad is designed to evoke emotions surrounding the evolution of GE and how Industrial Internet business brings software and machines together to serve various industries. Additionally, they effectively portray a vision where all machines and IT systems can communicate efficiently together. Yet having a human, the little boy, embodying the language of the industry is a symbol of GE: that they are people that are doing this and not robots! It is edgy, distinctive and vividly brilliant.

At the end of the video they quote: “When you speak the language of industry, the conversation can change the world.” GE is winking at us, saying when you’re GE and you create things such as the Industrial Internet (AKA the Internet of Things), they’ll change the way we communicate with machines, and these communications are changing the world.

We especially like how they’ve created an evocative, sentimental view of a world where we can communicate with our machines. The “boy who beeps” is fluent in machine and human languages, whereas everyone else in the ad are constantly frustrated with their machines. The Internet of Things, or as GE is calling it, the Industrial Internet, is meant to make machines work for us in a much more cohesive manner than ever before. This ad makes us excited to see how well it will work!

Peugeot brings back the GTi spirit on its 208. Special effects included.

Since we love to bring more knowledge to our readers, we’ll start by telling you that Peugeot is based in Sochaux, almost 5 hours east of Paris which is a part of the PSA group with the other French based car manufacturer Citroën. Neither of them are widely known in North America except for some of you who have been in France or have been following the World Rally Championship (WRC) or the 24 hours of Le Mans.

One of its biggest success was the hot hatchback 205 that was launched in 1983 while Peugeot was in bad financial shape. During its 15 years of production, 5.3 million cars have been sold within Europe. It has been the second biggest commercial success of Peugeot, and came at the best time to help them live another day.

A year later, they released the GTi version. This hot and racy version has been a fantastic car that allowed Peugeot to win a WRC that same year. It’s quite a success story for the Lion brand which has led to an epic commercial in 1987. Gérard Pires was the director of the ad named “The Bomber”. It features a James Bond look-alike who’s telling us that he kept its latest weapon: the 205 GTi which he used to race against a… bomber! Yes, you read it correctly, and it happened without any special effects. If you watch it carefully, you’ll even see that the bomber “hit” the car’s roof at 0:28 and manage to break the antenna.

The car was a hit, and the ad is still a classic in Europe. So when Peugeot announced a 30th Anniversary car to celebrate the 205 GTi, there were great expectations surrounding the car and the commercial.

As we are not Top Gear, we won’t review the 208 GTi 30th Anniversary, but we will have a look at its commercial named “The Legend Returns”. Released a couple weeks ago by the Paris based BETC Agency, they decided to pay a tribute to its legacy by starting out with the original footage. When you see the bomber getting closer to the 205, a more powerful and modern 208 drifts onto the ice. But wait. Is it me, or are the special effects not so great?

You don’t need more than 15 seconds to figure that it is quite bad. Remember, in the 1987, they didn’t use FX, but in this one, they used enough for a year. After the ice gets smashed by missiles, the car manages to escape the bomber, and fake-slides in the snow. Why didn’t they even use a real car and a real driver? But, the silliness reaches a new level when the 208 is being chased by a Eurocopter Tiger… Whoa. To defeat it, the talentless actor had to loop over it so the Tiger pilot gets stuck in the lift cables. The ad ends like its older brother with a woman styled like the original actress tells the actor “You made me wait” to her man.

It is with regret that I saw the 1987 ad being remastered for the worst. Too much poor special effects, craziness, and silliness. I would expect something better than that to celebrate a car industry icon. If you want to do something as bold, crazy and epic as the old one but with today’s technology, at least make it looks good. If they wanted to have a bomber, a chopper and billions of explosions, maybe they should have asked Michael Bay to direct it!

We can just hope for Peugeot that the 208 GTi isn’t as cheap and synthetic as this ad…