Insurance Guy adds humor

March 28, 2011
| By Pete Daly |
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When it comes to knee-slapping humor, insurance guys tend to be a little reserved — except perhaps, The Insurance Guy, who obviously does know a thing or two about making people laugh.

The Insurance Guy is a new YouTube-land character created by Foremost Insurance. His real name is Jeff Bair, executive director of strategic marketing and independent agent operations at Foremost.

Bair and his creative team at Foremost — Nick Weaver in corporate communications and Heather Lockwood in advertising — have come up with several scripts for short, clever videos for YouTube.

“Collectible Plates” opens with Bair introducing himself: “Hi friends. It’s the Foremost Insurance Guy.” He gives a quick, energetic overview of the company and the types of insurance coverage it offers, each represented by what the Insurance Guy assures are “collectible” plates.

The Mobile Home Plate, of course, features an illustration of an attractive mobile home. All the plates are displayed on a counter in front of the Insurance Guy, except for one empty stand representing its vacant property insurance plate.

The first video was shot last August or September, according to Baird. On YouTube it’s called “Quick Presentation,” but the people at Foremost simply call it “the rant.” It opens with the conclusion of a dreadfully boring corporate presentation, at which point Bair is introduced. He gives the quick overview on Foremost and then rattles off a lengthy list of the types of insurance coverage at breakneck speed, reminiscent of the super-fast talker in the comical FedEx commercials a few years ago.

It really is Bair talking, but “the rant” first happened by accident.

At one point, Bair was regularly doing many speaking gigs around the country to Foremost agents and employees during which he would mention all the product types. One day he was making his presentation when he started getting a frantic signal that he was running out of time. As he hit the last slide that lists the products, he rattled them off in a torrent of words.

Afterward, he was told it was very entertaining and could he do it again?

“It caught on,” Bair said, so the company decided to try “the rant” in a video content.

Bair, a native of central Pennsylvania, started working for Foremost full time while he was attending Penn State, where he earned a business degree in 1982.

Bair agrees that this “really is the entertainment age. We decided we could get a message out to our independent agents and our policyholders” via humorous videos on the Internet. The Foremost Insurance Guy strategy was developed to actually provide the online content that independent agents can use to help sell Foremost insurance.

“We found that a lot of (independent insurance) agencies get started in social media and then don’t know what to do with it, so we’re leveraging that opportunity by providing content for agencies to use,” said Bair.

Foremost insurance policies are sold by about 32,000 independent agents around the nation. To help them, Foremost has set up a secure Internet site with a page called Growing My Business, where agents find what Foremost calls a Social Media Suitcase — a basic explanation of social media and its potential value to agents.

The Social Media Suitcase launched Monday, Feb. 7, “and we had 4,000 web hits through Friday” of that week, said Bair.

Bair said he believes Foremost is probably among the first insurance companies with independent agents “to really reach out this way to our distributors.”

The Foremost Insurance Guy also his own Facebook page and, of course, he tweets.

Bair was recently interviewed in an Insurance Journal podcast. “I’ve often said the insurance industry doesn’t have much personality, but via Jeff, Foremost certainly does,” said Rick Morgan of Insurance Journal.

Bair said the videos have also been seen by a lot of Foremost employees, many of whom have “stopped by the office to say they really enjoy the videos. They like what they’ve seen.”

There are now about eight or 10 pieces of content available to independent agents, and more are on the way. One sounds very promising: a video called “Bad Mascots,” which is apparently a spoof of “American Idol” and perhaps also a spoof of another major insurance company that has clever ads on television.

In “Bad Mascots,” some questionable characters are auditioning to be mascots for Foremost.

“As you know, a lot of insurance companies utilize mascots. We don’t — and won’t. We utilize real people,” said Bair.

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