Zurich Insurance at 100 Years & Its Marketing Lesson in Historical Context

Longevity counts for something.

Go deep into the 15th round against heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, as unheralded Chuck Wepner did 38 years ago yesterday, and become one of the most celebrated underdogs in the sport’s history.

(It also doesn’t hurt your chances if a struggling actor named Sylvester Stallone, inspired by the fight, creates Rocky, the first iconic round in what becomes one of cinema’s all-time franchise blockbusters.)

In a recent advertising campaign, Zurich Insurance astutely recognized the respect and trust that people tend to confer on those who “go the distance.”

Seeking to tout its century in business, Zurich could have simply stated that it had passed the 100-year mark. But that’s the bare minimum and only begins to tell a remarkable success story.

What proportion of companies make it through their first year, or manage to adapt and scrap enough to stick around for a 10th anniversary? How about 20 or even 50 years? It’s not easily done.

So here in the Chicago area, where Zurich has its North American headquarters in Schaumburg, the company surveyed the landscape to see how it could drive home the point. In an advertisement, the company identified its endurance via one of the city’s most notable venues: Soldier Field.

The ad consists of a black-and-white photograph of the stadium as it was being built, back at the dawn of the National Football League. The image is accompanied by the words “1924 Soldier Field Construction” and “We helped make it happen.”

In those two brief, simple phrases, Zurich powerfully and brilliantly communicated so much: longevity, reliability, association with the biggest and the best.

As you consider your organization’s own public relations and marketing campaign, think about how you can practice the same principle.

Can you hitch it to an historical wagon? Who was president when it got started? What was going on in the world that might represent thematic symmetry?

For example, if you were to represent a company that has been making products for the golf industry since the 1970s, see what current players were babies back then—or weren’t even close to being born yet—to underscore the point.

And you need not be a generations-old firm to make this hitching-onto-history approach work. In fact, it could be your relative youth that is the story. Facebook, in case you hadn’t noticed, isn’t even 10 years old yet.

So if you think we just made too big of a deal about Michael Jordan turning 50 years old, wait until that revolutionary social media brand reaches double digits in the coming year.

The brainstorming process can be as simple as typing in the year of your organization or company’s start and going to Google to see what else was happening at that time. What was the average cost of a gallon of gasoline? Average home price? Average family income? Average Major League Baseball player income?

Whatever the case, go beyond the mere recitation of a founding date and enliven it with some context.

Related Posts:
Wildcat Winning Streak Illustrates Ease, Effectiveness of Passage-of-Time Storyline Hooks
Part I, 2014 PR & Marketing Resolution: Consume Better Sources of Information

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