State Farm acting on Allstate agent angst - Chicago Tribune

The memo said State Farm is offering agents near Allstate office closings a "50 percent co-op" reimbursement on certain print, radio and billboard ads appealing to prospective customers who like being represented by an agent.

So if a State Farm agent located near an affected Allstate agency spends $1,000 in approved advertising, State Farm will reimburse them $500 of the expense.

"Who can blame State Farm or any other insurer for taking advantage of Allstate's misstep?" said Jim Fish, executive director of the National Association of Professional Allstate Agents.

He said State Farm's move is occurring as Allstate seems to be reconsidering its agency cuts.

Allstate recently announced plans to seek new agency owners in a number of states, including more than 290 for Oklahoma, Nevada, Texas, Missouri and Colorado.

"The problem is that they have alienated the agency force and are frantically trying to stem the bleeding by attempting to hire replacement agents for those who are departing," Fish said.

In an e-mailed statement, Allstate said its goal is to increase the number of offices in local communities.

"We're doing that, in part, by continuing to actively recruit new agency owners to ensure we maintain a strong local presence and provide our customers the superior service they deserve," the company said.

New deals: The pace of deals to buy banks, not just ones that have been seized by the government, will likely pick up in the next 12 to 18 months, according to Keefe Bruyette Woods.

The investment bank said market fragmentation — the Chicago area is the most fragmented banking market among the 10 biggest cities — and management age will fuel some deals.

Also, the banking industry's recovery is likely to be "slow and arduous," with "higher capital requirements likely to spark conversations by bank managements about whether to maintain independence," the report said.

Potential buyers include PNC, FirstMerit and U.S. Bank.

"Potential buyers who could become sellers," or banks that will make acquisitions in the short term but eventually could be bought by larger institutions that like their franchise value, include Itasca-based First Midwest and Chicago-based MB Financial, the report said.

Contact Becky Yerak at byerak@tribune.com or 312-222-4283, and follow her at twitter.com/beckyyerak

When will these strategies start to include locally oriented online advertising options as well? Facebook local ads, Linkedin Local ads, Civic website banner ads, Google AdWords pointed at specific geo-tags? It's odd to me that the "online" marketing economy continues to run separately and not even very much in parallel with traditional media. With tools like "Scanlife" offering device integration for print ads and printed documents and links to websites, landing pages, ads, offers, coupons, Whatever, I just don't see the barrier to integrating the two types of campaigns. My purse is smaller -- it holds my iPhone. If Delta can manage an iPhone boarding pass, surely our enormous insurance companies can start to absorb the fact that news comes in through the mobile screen, so ad strategies should follow them there...Hey, State Farm -- Give me a call: we can chat.

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