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How Esurance Won the Social Bowl

Leo Burnett Creative Directors and Esurance’s CMO talk tactics in our Q&A

Esurance made a lot of people very happy during the Super Bowl — 17 to be precise — and showed off its innovative marketing via a first-of-its-kind giveaway.

Along with Leo Burnett Chicago, the San Francisco-based insurance company launched a sweepstakes via its Twitter handle last week, announcing the more than $1 million giveaway. The news was released with its pre-game spot “Pass It On.”

Throughout the big game, @Esurance shared tweets, invited fans to participate in the sweepstakes and announced winners in real time, even interviewing a few of them via Skype.

After the Broncos were declared the winner, the brand surprised viewers with an unexpected giveaway and the biggest monetary prize of the night through their second Super Bowl spot “Overtime.”

Leo Burnett’s Brian Shembeda, EVP, executive creative director, and Jeff Candido, VP, creative director, and Alan Gellman, CMO for Esurance, shared their insights behind creating the spots and this modern approach to the Super Bowl sweepstakes.

Why did Esurance choose to launch a sweepstakes again this year?
Alan Gellman: Esurance knows that today’s Super Bowl viewer follows the game on social media and other channels, especially while watching the broadcast. We decided a sweepstakes was a smart way to reach that active audience while they were watching the game. We gave multiple people the chance to win throughout the game by re-tweeting @esurance during each commercial break and selected the winners throughout the game. This strategy gave us the opportunity to engage with a vast audience, while also spreading awareness of our brand and our products.

Why did you decide on real-time prizing for the sweepstakes? How did the in-game giveaway work?
Brian Shembeda: One of the ways Esurance saves money is by being fast and efficient in everything they do. That naturally led to the idea of demonstrating that efficiency by announcing the winners during the game.

The spot and the supporting social content highlight how Esurance’s smart technology passes on savings to its customers. How does that technology help Esurance save money?
Alan Gellman: Esurance is insurance for the modern world. With this guiding brand platform, we continue to innovate on insurance solutions that meet all of our customers' individual needs. We know that every customer is unique and catch-all policies don’t work for everyone. Our smart technology ensures they only pay what’s right for them. From video appraisals to photo claims, we’ve streamlined the insurance process. This saves us money and we pass that savings to our customers.

You executed on this huge social activation with a war room. What was new about your approach? What were the logistics around that?
Jeff Candido: Esurance had a war room in its San Francisco offices with about 20 people. We had Esurance executives, people from Leo Burnett, Esurance social media teams, the legal and prizing folks and the sweepstakes team working in real time to pull this off. During the game, we identified winners and immediately reached out to them to find out if they’d be willing to do a Skype interview with us. Simultaneously, everything had to pass through internal clearance, legal clearance and background checks. This process was repeated multiple times throughout the game.

Kathleen Chaykowski of Forbes joined the Esurance war room. Read her story to learn more.

Tell us about the Skype interviews.
Brian Shembeda: In some cases, we were able to post video content of the prize-winners to our social channels shortly after announcing the winners. By posting winners live, our goal was to increase the contest’s credibility and build buzz. Additionally, the Super Bowl party atmosphere offered the opportunity to create some really interesting content.

You chose to surprise viewers at the end of the game with a second spot and the largest individual giveaway of your sweepstakes. What’s the story behind that decision?
Jeff Candido: We talked with Esurance about how participation in 2014’s “#EsuranceSave30” campaign didn’t begin until after the game was over. The campaign was a success, but this year the clients wanted participation throughout the entire game. Our response was to run a spot about 10 minutes before kickoff to launch phase one of our contest. To insure people participated throughout the game, we decided to award multiple smaller prizes. Next, we chose to use our post-game spot to launch phase two of the contest — giving away the remainder of our savings, a $250,000 grand prize. The goal in phase two was to encourage participation through the next 24 hours.

How did you work alongside the Leo Burnett sweepstakes team to plan and execute this massive, first-of-its-kind giveaway?
Brian Shembeda: We sat down with our VP, director of sweepstakes, contests and games, Amanda McKinney, to discuss ways to make this sweepstakes unique. Whenever you do this type of thing, there is always a ton of complexity that we, as creatives, can’t even imagine. That’s why it’s so beneficial having experts like Amanda on staff. It allows us to work through problems and solutions in real time.

Stay tuned into as we interview Amanda McKinney tomorrow.