The Hartford launches bicentennial campaign

HARTFORD, CT: The Hartford Financial Services Group is gearing up for its 200th anniversary with an integrated, national campaign.

HARTFORD, CT: The Hartford Financial Services Group is gearing up for its 200th anniversary with an integrated, national campaign. Hartford's marketing and communications SVP, Connie Weaver, said the campaign is meant to educate both customers and employees about the company's past, as well as its plans for the future.

“We're one of the rare American companies that are entering their 200th year, and this campaign is about celebrating that,” she said. “Any great communications campaign starts with the message, and at the heart of this program is brand ambassadorship. We're looking to engage our employees, our partners, and have clear communications with our customers.”

The campaign message of dependability has been circulated to the insurance and investment company's employees through in-house e-mails and an updated company Web site, encouraging workers to join the campaign initiative via Facebook. Weaver said philanthropy-based events are also in the works for the new year, though final plans have not been put in place yet.

“We've spent a year getting together our material and looking at consumer opinion to see where we're at, and we're going to respond to the community in a way that will engage them best,” she said. “Events that can benefit small business and give back to our customers are something that we're very interested in pursuing.”

The PR campaign was handled by internal staff, while advertising was handled by Hartford AOR Rodgers Townsend. It includes two 30-second TV ads to run through 2010, as well as print advertising, a commemorative logo, and advertorials, leading up to the anniversary in May.

Some of the ads play on the company's 200-year history. One ad set to run in trade publications references an 1835 fire in New York City's financial district, when then Hartford president Eliphalet Terry made a 125-mile sleigh ride from Hartford, CT, to New York City to pay claims to victims. Weaver said that's the type of service the company is trying to convey with this campaign.

“[The New York City fire ad] will be part of a series of vignettes that will stress awareness of our history,” Weaver said. “Different audiences will be engaged by different things, and with something like a bicentennial you have to make sure you're being relevant. Our 200th anniversary is becoming a platform to talk about where we're going, and convey that message to our customers.”

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