Esurance Hires Wells Fargo’s Gellman to Take on Flo

Allstate Corp. (ALL), the largest publicly traded home and auto insurer, hired Alan Gellman from Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) to oversee marketing at its Esurance unit.

Gellman will be chief marketing officer, reporting to Esurance Chief Executive Officer Gary Tolman in San Francisco. He held marketing roles for the past 10 years at Wells Fargo, the auto insurer said today in a statement.

Allstate has ramped up advertising spending to win customers from rivals such as Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Geico, which advertises using a gecko, an adventurous pig and a camel that loves Wednesdays; and Progressive Corp. (PGR), which counts on spunky saleswoman Flo. Allstate spent $887 million on ads last year, compared with $1.2 billion from Geico, according to data compiled by SNL Financial.

“I hope to bring more new ideas and energy to the team as we continue our successful marketing efforts and work towards our goal of making Esurance the top choice for self-directed insurance consumers,” Gellman said in the statement.

Esurance won attention in February with a commercial featuring actor John Krasinski that aired immediately after the Super Bowl. The insurer gave $1.5 million to a winner selected from people who tweeted “#EsuranceSave30” on Twitter. The prize is the amount of money the company saved by buying the slot following the football championship rather than during the game.

Super Bowl

“Quote volume was up substantially after the Super Bowl ad,” Don Civgin, who leads the life business and oversees Esurance at Northbrook, Illinois-based Allstate, said on a Feb. 6 conference call with analysts. “Call volume was off the charts.”

Esurance focuses on direct sales through the Internet, and is run separately from Allstate’s largest business, in which auto and home policies are offered at agencies under its namesake brand. Mary Eshet, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment. The hiring was reported earlier today by the Wall Street Journal.

Gellman has a bachelor of arts degree in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the University of Rochester. He previously worked at firms including Blue Shield of California, General Foods and Kraft, Esurance said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zachary Tracer in New York at ztracer1@bloomberg.net; Noah Buhayar in New York at nbuhayar@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net Steven Crabill

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