By Jamie McGee
Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Allstate Corp., the insurer that spent $364.6 million on advertising last year, hired General Motors Co.’s top U.S. sales executive as chief marketing officer and senior vice president.
Mark LaNeve will report to Chief Executive Officer Thomas Wilson when he joins Allstate Oct. 26, the Northbrook, Illinois- based insurer said in a statement today. GM had announced that LaNeve, 50, would depart and appointed Buick-GMC General Manager Susan Docherty as vice president of U.S. sales.
LaNeve’s “success in building stronger brands through marketing, consumer focused product design and local sales presence will accelerate our strategy to reinvent protection and retirement,” Wilson said in the statement.
LaNeve steps into an insurer advertising battle that pits Allstate pitchman Dennis Haysbert against Geico Corp.’s gecko mascot and Progressive Corp.’s spunky saleswoman, Flo. Geico, owned by Warren Buffett’sBerkshire Hathaway Inc., was the only publicly traded insurer to spend more on advertising last year, paying $624.6 million, according to data compiled by TNS Media Intelligence.Progressive spent $294 million.
Allstate is spending more of its advertising budget this year on commercials that feature Haysbert, who played the U.S. president on News Corp. television show “24,” TNS said. Allstate’s television ads increased to 80 percent of its overall advertising expenses in the first six months of 2009, compared with 68 percent in all of 2008, according to TNS data.
Joan Walker, Allstate’s vice president for corporate relations, had served as interim chief marketing officer job. She will keep the corporate relations job, Allstate said today.
Allstate fell 18 cents to $31.74 at 1:09 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have declined 3.1 percent this year. The appointment was first reported last week by Business Week.
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