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SGIO ups ante

WHEN it comes to advertising sectors, it doesn't come much more competitive than insurance, especially in the major consumer markets of motor vehicles and homes.

It's estimated that insurers spend about $20 million a year on advertisements in the Western Australian market, one unusually dominated by home-grown brands, notably market leader RAC.

And this week it became even more competitive, with the market's number two player revamping its advertising message and launching a new campaign with plans to increase its presence in the market all year round.

SGIO, a Western Australian brand owned by Sydney-based IAG, admits it has to work to rebuild the brand.

"We want to get that profile back," said SGIO state manager Colin Tierney who has been studying the brand's past strength.

Mr Tierney acknowledges that SGIO hasn't featured in the WA Business News Annual Branding Survey top 10 listing, in stark contrast to its key rival RAC, which has topped the list for two years running.

Using West Perth advertising agency Marketforce, SGIO has commissioned locally produced versions of commercials around the concept of 'Unworry', a theme IAG will roll out in different guises across other markets.

The most obvious local advertisement is an iconic shot of a boy jumping off a boat at Rottnest Island, filmed in slow motion by a special camera used last month in the Beijing Olympics.

The theme aims to differentiate SGIO's product by expressing the value of insurance in terms of freedom it provides - rather than the gloomier messages of rivals or mere price-based messages.

Mr Tierney said staff had been involved in the process and he was paying considerable attention to ensuring they backed up the new branding message.

He added that the group was making improvements to its product range to also match the advertising message.

SGIO is estimated to spend between $2 million and $3 million a year on advertising in WA, behind the $3 million to $4 million the RAC is thought to spend to maintain around one third of the private motor vehicle market and about 22 per cent of home insurance. SGIO's position is thought to be less than half that of the RAC in motor vehicle insurance and about 13 per cent of home insurance.

Unusually, a third WA brand, HBF, is regarded as the next biggest player, vying with national group QBE, then followed by a host of smaller and niche players which have made the state a hotly contested market.

There is also talk of Queensland's Suncorp-Metway creating a bigger physical presence in Perth after selling out of its local joint venture with RAC for $104 million.

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