Zurich has unleashed an ambitious advertising campaign to transform its general insurance brand into a household name.

The first stage of the branding exercise is a poster launch at 1,500 key road and rail sites, which will lead on to newspaper and other media later this year.

Research among brokers has already shown that the Zurich brand is linked to pioneering products and excellent service.

The Anglo-Swiss insurer said it is now seeking to build a world-class reputation as a provider of risk solutions, but admits its public profile is currently low.

"Although awareness levels are currently modest, the brand has the strength and depth to support commercial and personal business in both national and international markets," said Jane Reed-Thomas, spokeswoman for Zurich's general business.

She added: "This campaign marks a significant step in our plans to build public awareness of the Zurich brand in the UK."

Recent results from the Eagle Star general insurance division of Zurich show a rapid turnaround in fortunes, as a £109m loss in 1998 was converted into modest profit of £2m in 1999.