Magazine article American Banker

Conseco Branding Drive Shifts into Higher Gear

Magazine article American Banker

Conseco Branding Drive Shifts into Higher Gear

Article excerpt

Conseco Inc. is revving up its blue-collar branding campaign.

The Carmel, Ind., financial services firm is invoking the Hoosier state's two favorite sports -- basketball and car racing -- to build on an advertising push that has already increased awareness of its brand among middle-income Americans to 45%, from 8% two years ago.

A Conseco-sponsored racing team led by the legendary A.J. Foyt is making its debut this week at the Daytona 500. On Saturday, a series of ads slated to run during the race and the NCAA basketball tournament in March premiers.

Conseco is banking on NASCAR and Mr. Foyt -- the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 -- to resonate with its target market -- those earning $25,000 to $70,000 a year. It wouldn't disclose the cost of the campaign but said media buys and sponsorship costs would require a substantial increase from last year's $33 million budget.

This group of 51 million households "is underserved, profitable, and vast," said Stewart A. Stockdale, Conseco's executive vice president of strategic planning. But the market is also increasingly coveted, as the financial service industry diversifies, by such giant competitors as Citigroup Inc. and Associates First Capital Corp. in Irving, Tex.

Mr. Stockdale compared his job at Conseco to selling laundry soap -- he sells something everyone uses, not just the wealthy. "We're focusing our products and brands on the middle market, but if we pick up customers from above or below this segment, great," he said. …

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