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Whether it’s talking geckos or magic jingles that produce hot tubs, you’ve probably seen countless annoying and funny insurance company advertisements both on TV and the Internet.

But via online gaming? It seems like a bit of stretch, yet one particular “advergame” has enjoyed some success.

American Family Insurance teamed with Redmond-based WildTangent and Mindshare Entertainment to create iAMFAM, a Sims-like game on Facebook where users can start a family, build a home and “manage unexpected surprises along the way.” Users can compete with other “families,” in terms of improving health, happiness and prosperity.

Since launching the game two years ago, it has been a successful promotional asset for American Family. More than 586,000 gamers have played iAMFAM and the average game play is 14 minutes, 30 seconds. WildTangent spokeswoman Carol Rogalski says that click-thru rates are ranging from 5.5-percent to 15-percent.

“The game is actually driving consumers to ask for quotes from this insurance company,” she says.

I spent a few minutes trying out the game, which made me nostalgic about playing the original The Sims. I picked “writing,” as my career — surprise — and as I “moved” into my new home, a 30-second American Family video advertisement played in the meantime — a perfect example of incorporating advertising into a social game.

You are then set up with an American Family agent and start “living.” The gameplay mimics The Sims with an insurance twist. Users can work with their “agent” to buy car, life, boat, home, motorcyle or even umbrella insurance. When disasters strike, players have the option to repair the problem and pay for damages, or claim the issue via your insurance policy. For example, when a storm damages the home roof, users can pay a deductible instead of the cost of the roof.

“iAMFAM is a family-friendly game that teaches people about life and insurance,” says Michele Wingate, American Family’s social media manager. “We’re focused on protecting families and their dreams, and this is a fun way to draw attention to that.”

The game is set up easily for users to play on Facebook and the app is also available for iPhone and Android. From the looks of it, this type of advertising could be much more effective in educating and eventually attracting new insurance customers than an expensive 30-second spot TV advertisement.

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