King Arthur may have finally met his match. In office branches throughout southern California, employees at Monarch E&S Insurance Services sell excess and surplus insurance next to two full suits of armor in the lobby. When advertising season rolls around, they don the garb themselves.
The easily-recognizable advertisements and videos feature Monarch’s underwriters sporting lances, chainmail, and 14th-century gowns.
Though some may not always enjoy pulling on three- to five-pound chainmail—rented from a costume house in Hollywood—it’s all in service of a worthy cause. Since Monarch’s founding in 1986, its quirky branding has paved the way for business expansion across the Golden State and even beyond its borders.
According to Chief Operating Officer Mark Kaufman, Monarch is now the largest independently owned E&S line and wholesale brokerage in California, with an average $65m in gross written premiums and new offices in Arizona and Hawaii.
“It’s paid off very well,” said Kaufman, who joined Monarch in the early 1990s and stars in several videos. “As long as people are talking about you, it’s advertising at its best.”
The medieval concept has grown exponentially since its inception in the mid-90s, and this year, Monarch started recording videos.
The campaign, called “Knights to Remember,” calls on clients and carriers to submit and vote on clever titles for the clips, promising an iPad to the winner.
The decision to invest the time and money into video production was not easy. Kaufman said the idea initially “got a bit of blowback” from management, who feared it wouldn’t take off. However, the desire to be ahead of the advertising curve prevailed.
“We wanted to be the first out there doing videos and making fun of ourselves,” Kaufman said.
The zany marketing campaign has also helped Monarch attract some top-tier talent.
“I get probably one to four resumes a week from people who email me and say things like ‘We’ve seen your website or your video and we’d like to be a part of your family,” Kaufman said. “We have very low turnover here.”
So what’s next for Monarch’s grand marketing scheme? Kauffman says the brokerage is planning to attend California’s I-Days in full costume. While he doesn’t always enjoy walking around in the heavy, authentic armor, Kaufman said he and Monarch are “very committed” to their campaign.
“And we should be committed,” he added as an afterthought.