The rescheduling of professional sport in the spring due to Covid-19 has brought fans a cornucopia of content in recent weeks: the NHL Stanley Cup was finally awarded at the end of September, the NBA championship took place for three months at the end of October and the highlight was the shortened run Major League Baseball coincides with the first five weeks of the NFL season.
And a brand spokesman seems to be right in the middle. State Farm’s Jake has become almost as recognizable as his campaign co-stars: future Hall of Famers Chris Paul, Aaron Rogers and Patrick Mahomes.
State Farm has long relied on live sports alongside competitors Geico, Progressive and Allstate to convey its quirky campaigns and bring humor and lightness to the bone-dry insurance industry.
If a brand can afford this, there is no better place to catch those eyeballs than sport. During the first four weeks of the NFL, insurance companies picked three of the top four brands in TV ad impressions (Geico was ranked third with Progressive and State Farm fourth) and received 620 million TV ad impressions, according to iSpot.
“It’s the last bastion of live television. There’s just a lot of passion, ”said Rand Harbert, CMO of State Farm, who has been with the company since 1992 in some ways.
When the pandemic pulled the proverbial carpet out of live sports, State Farm needed to get creative. While certain industries were forced to cut their spending, insurers actually increased their marketing budgets, cutting an additional $ 95 million between April 1 and September 30 from the same period last year. (Since there were fewer drivers in the spring, the insurers paid fewer claims.)
“We went back to traditional media and asked, ‘What are the possibilities here? What opportunities are unique and can bring our brand to a unique place? ‘”Said Harbert.
The brand’s “Being a Good Neighbor” campaign, in which State Farm gave customers an average of 25% discount on their policies, received nearly 90 million impressions on the Today Show and Good Morning America alone between March 17 and April 30 the news, ”Harbert said of the early days of the pandemic.
It wasn’t long before these unique opportunities began to materialize: State Farm made a splash as one of the presenting sponsors of ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance. The brand took the high profile opportunity to post several fake commercials starring former SportsCenter personalities, which Adweek referred to as “MVP Performance”.
While the documentary originally aired during the June NBA finals (which just closed on Sunday), State Farm and ESPN closed the deal in the first few weeks of the pandemic. It quickly became ESPN’s most watched documentary, averaging 5.6 million viewers in live and daily ratings. State Farm also sponsored the NBA’s Horse Shooting Contest, which aired on ESPN, and Disney’s Family Sing-Along, both of which aired on ABC in April.
Excluding live sports, State Farm reduced its TV spend from $ 307 million to $ 283 million and still hit 1.4 billion impressions.
“They were able to execute this successful strategy amid Covid-19 when not only did a recession hit, but sports and live events also disappeared under their feet,” said marketing consultant Tim Shea. “I think that was very clever.”
Now that live sports are back, Harbert has a less challenging problem.
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