As reported by  in Millennial Marketing BlogPamela El, VP Marketing for State Farm Insurance at the CMO Executive Summit in Chicago recently gave a presentation on how a nearly 100-year old brand reinvented itself for a new generation.

The Challenge

Even though State Farm is the largest car insurance company for young adults, focus groups showed that the brand’s user  image didn’t align with them, and many young adults didn’t even know who their insurance carrier was. Those who knew didn’t think  the brand  spoke to them.

The Strategy

El set out to learn how to have a conversation with young adults. Working with NY-based agency, Translation, LLC, Pam El executed a multi-platform campaign based on a new TV ad campaign  to increase awareness and become a part of youth culture. The spots give the iconic State Farm jingle  magical powers to resolve any stressful situation: just sing and magically, ‘State Farm is there!’

These spots can be viewed on a special Facebook page, StateFarmNation.com, where viewers can also explore alternative endings and vote on their favorites.

Sponsorships including College Game Day, TV specials, and rewards for playing games embedded in interactive online banners extended the campaign.  When commercial parodies started to appear on Youtube (50 to date, with 1.5 million views), State Farm embraced them. El said she knew they had made it when t-shirts saying “Can I get a hot tub?’ started to appear.

Extending the “Magic”

State Farm went further into pop culture by being ‘all over social media, partnering with indie band “Weezer” who covered the jingle and participated in a promotion called ‘Wishes with Weezer’. Fans were urged to submit videos posing questions they would like answered as the band toured.

Other strategies included featuring LeBron James in a commercial on James social media network reaching out to his 6 million Facebook fans. a special Youtube only ‘dance’ video has received over 350,000 hits.

Becoming A Guest at the Party

State Farm decided to take their campaign a step further and ‘become a guest at other people’s parties’. They chose “Phil DeFranco: Youtube Celebrity”, 24-year old who video blogs to nearly one million fans on his channel, sxephil, the 11th most subscribed channel on Youtube.

Some Takeaways

1. Multi-cultural is mainstream.  Young people are more alike than different so you don’t need multicultural marketing to reach young adults who don’t care about the differences!

2. Make your business social, not your brand:  reach out in a unique way, and then follow through with a plan to sustain engagement.

3. Get an agency partner that understands the target, and challenge yourself by asking, what can you do that’s really authentic with your brand.

Snap! principle of making financial services cool:

Like a good neighbor, be there!

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