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State Farm's Shifting Strategy

Updated on April 11, 2012
State Farm is headquartered in Bloomington, IL
State Farm is headquartered in Bloomington, IL

Keep Your Eye on the Commercials

I met my wife, who was working at State Farm corporate headquarters at the time, just a few years ago. I remember teasing her about how stale and boring the State Farm commercials were compared to the humorous approach taken by companies like Geico. She agreed but told me State Farm was more interested in communicating their message of reliability and dependability to their customers than making a splash on television.

All that rapidly began to change the day she came home to tell me there was a rumor going around that State Farm was planning to use Bob Barker in an upcoming commercial. "They say they want to make him the next Betty White." Sure enough, old Bob did show up in a commercial less than two months later, in all his orange skinned glory. In the years since, State Farm has been shifting towards a more humorous approach in commercials, without neglecting their original message of dependability.

The Original Approach

For years, State Farm has thrived as an insurance giant in the heart of the Midwest. Situated in humble Bloomington, IL, the insurance powerhouse had humble beginnings. It was founded by George J. Mecherle, a retired farmer, in the 1920's. For the first few decades, the small company was nothing like the State Farm we know today, but it began to thrive on a simple message: "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there."

In fact, this message has been a staple of State Farm promotions throughout its existence. Advertisements have stressed a insurance company that will be there at the times that you need it most, after an accident, a storm that damages your home, the death of a loved one. This message is still present in some of the companies social media campaigns. You can see its presence in the video below, a recent addition on the official State Farm YouTube channel.

The Serious Side of State Farm

The Change in Strategy

Beginning around the time of the 2011 Super Bowl, State Farm has had a noticeable shift in its advertisements, making an intentional move towards funnier commercials. In the past couple of years, we have seen Bob Barker, Betty White, Jerry driving his car up a tree, an alien shooting up the neighborhood with lasers, and booty shaking agents with their clients at a basketball game.

With my wife no longer at State Farm, I can't claim to have an insider with knowledge, but I'd have to guess this shift is designed to compete with Geico's many funny commercials. Geico is one of State Farm's biggest competitors, and they've used these kinds of commercials for years.

Notice, however, that State Farm hasn't exactly given up their theme of service and reliability. Much like Geico stresses saving money and changing to their insurance in just 15 minutes with humor, State Farm has done much the same with their themes. Notice in the commercial below how they mange to both stress how how they are there "like a good neighbor" while at the same time taking a shot at Geico, which is never mentioned by name.

A Funny State Farm Commercial

The Verdict

State Farm continues to operate in the top echelon of insurers in America, facing its largest competition from Geico and All State. Will its attempt to communicate with humor pay off? Let me know what you think by voting in my poll below.

Poll Question

Do you think State Farm's shift towards a more humorous approach in commercials will help them against similar campaigns from Geico and others?

See results

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    • Helena Ricketts profile image

      Helena Ricketts 

      9 years ago from Indiana

      We have all of our insurance with State Farm and have actually been very pleased with them so far. Previously we were with GEICO. GEICO used some lame excuse that every policy had to be billed separately so we were making 5 separate payments to the same company every month with a $5.00 per policy "convenience" fee. State Farm gladly combined everything into one payment and is over $100 a month cheaper for the same exact coverage after their discounts for having everything with them. Our agent is very personable too which is nice and I can either mail our payment or take it a mile down the road to our agent which is something you can't do with GEICO.

      Their commercials didn't have anything to do with why we switched. It was GEICO's impersonal service, overpriced and unreasonable "per policy" charges that prompted us to switch. State Farm lives up to their reputation in my house.

      Great hub for a great insurance company! :)

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