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Each year, thousands of Americans lose their homes and personal belongings to flood, the nation’s number-one natural disaster. Unfortunately, without flood insurance, affected families face major repair costs, which can result in lost savings and multiple mortgages.

Despite widespread coverage of the impact of flood disasters, Americans continued to believe that flood risks were not relevant to them, making protecting their homes and belongings with flood insurance unnecessary. This belief was reflected in the negative to flat flood insurance policy growth over a number of years.

In 2004, FEMA recognized the need for a social marketing campaign to educate the public about flood risks and its costly effects, while motivating Americans to purchase flood insurance.


FEMA’s previous marketing efforts, through its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), solely focused on flood awareness and were insufficient in achieving insurance-growth goals. Extensive research revealed that success required a strategy that would motivate consumers to take action.

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, in partnership with J. Walter Thompson Advertising, developed an integrated marketing campaign designed to connect consumers directly to insurance agents, and provide the relevant risk information necessary for consumers to make smart financial protection decisions.

A mix of direct response television, print ads, direct mail, targeted online marketing and robust web assets, bolsters by aggressive earned media and stakeholder outreach strategies was designed to reach consumers through multiple channels and through trusted sources. The campaign was anchored by, the one-stop resource for flood risk and insurance information.

To mitigate consumer mistrust in the government and insurance industry, another key strategy centered on the development of partnerships. Through educational materials and other resources, the campaign engaged trusted stakeholders to become advocates and expert resources for consumers.

The campaign also reached insurance professionals, providing them with marketing tools and resources to motivate agents to offer flood insurance and maximize policy sales.


The campaign’s strength was built on an integrated marketing model bolstered by successful public relations activities, generating over 1 billion impressions. At the culmination of the first five years of the campaign, FloodSmart delivered on its promise to increase policies by 5% annually, and shifted the public’s perception of flood insurance. The campaign’s positive messages resulted in a better understanding of the benefits of flood insurance, achieving a 25% increase in policies over the five-year time frame. FloodSmart has also strengthened the NFIP’s reputation as an effective program.