Red shirt, khakis, and insurance.

Am I describing that one annoying kid from high school who now drives a Dodge Charger and works at his dads insurance firm? Or am I describing one of the most innovative Marketing campaigns of 2024?

A little bit of both, but I digress.

Today’s lesson has everything to do with a familiar face, bold positioning in the market, and timeliness.

Let’s get into it…

State Farm is the largest home insurance company in the United States, known from their statement red branding, and they’re widening their gap by making a massive push to position insurance as cool.

Insurance and cool, those are 2 words I would have NEVER guessed could be seen in the same sentence yet here we are.

The original Jake From State Farm campaign was launched in 2011 featuring an actual State Farm employee and met TONS of success. 

The series of commercials cemented State Farm as one of the pioneers of creative Marketing in the insurance industry, but when you start to see success with a formula, others will begin to imitate you.

Next thing you know almost every big insurance company was leaning all into humor in their Marketing.

We talk about the positive impact humor can have on your Marketing often, but what sits at the root of its effectiveness is differentiation.

Differentiation is on the MOUNT RUSHMORE of necessary pieces to your Marketing puzzle and because every insurance company began to ride the humorous coattails of State Farm, suddenly that differentiation diminished.

State Farm’s commercials now sat in a sea of other funny commercials, they didn’t stick out and unfortunately they ended the Jake From State Farm commercials in 2015.

But 5 years later State Farm reintroduced Jake in a completely new way. 

And to show just how far this new iteration of Jake has come, a collaboration with the most popular artist on the planet (not named Taylor Swift) doesn’t even make the cut for the list of fantastic moves by State Farm.

(Here are Jake and Drake From State Farm in a Super Bowl commercial back in 2020.)

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This long-term push from State Farm to make insurance cool has been less reliant on influencers and celebrities to associate with the brand and more about building their own in-house celebrity that represents State Farm as a whole.

And that in-house celeb is Jake From State Farm.

Jake has taken on this whole new personality that quite frankly nobody can tell if it’s actually him or a character he is playing, and that’s the secret sauce.

State Farm has built personal accounts for Jake From State Farm on all socials. In every post he is donning the State Farm logo and in your face red colorway, but never promoting anything.

The accounts are clearly used to keep the brand top of mind for consumers but still funnel users back to State Farm to create a personal price plan. The funnel is subtle and resembles that of the typical influencer.

But what really set this investment into Jake on fire is when State Farm took him from just being a character we all see through the screen and had him attend in-person events.

And I can say fairly confidently this is a strategy we have NEVER seen executed before. Flo from Progressive is one of the most successful brand icons of all time, but even she is confined to the TV screen.

Jake is still the highlight of almost all State Farm commercials but he has now become a viral sensation at these in-person events.

To show the extent to which Jake has become a cultural icon is in this quote tweet of a RANDOM video on Twitter where Jake is in the background.

The tweet has 64k likes, 2M+ views, and is the exact proof that State Farm’s cultural currency is on the RISE.

(You can see the back of his head and bright red suit in the background LOL.)

Insurance has always battled the inability to productize their offering, consumers can’t picture insurance in their head like they can the crewneck they’re looking to buy.

But State Farm has found a happy medium that when consumers see it they picture State Farm and insurance is top of mind…this happy medium is Jake From State Farm.

Effectively a walking billboard, State Farm has unlocked a WHOLE NEW way to advertise that I wouldn’t be surprised if other brands look to emulate.

Sitting Jake courtside at NBA playoff games or next to the most popular NFL player’s Mom, who happens to be dating the most popular celebrity in the world (Taylor Swift), State Farm can pick where, when, and how their brand shows up at all of the biggest events in ways no other brand can.

Commercial breaks are met with WAY more resistance from consumers than a subtle pan over to Jake From State Farm sitting courtside that has the same impact an ad, except it doesn’t feel like an ad.

This strategy of leading with a personality has done wonders for them on all fronts, I mean look at this ad on my Twitter timeline.

What other insurance company has their brand icon dripped out in a track jacket asking you to lace up and play pickup basketball? Answer: none.

The State Farm logo is present, but an afterthought, every message is coming from Jake directly NOT State Farm.

Individuals favor trust and cooperation which is substantially easier to develop through the presence of an individual like Jake instead of the brand as a whole. 

Leading with an individual has also enabled State Farm to be in places other brands can’t and in ways that feel organic so that consumer retention is positively impacted.

Example 1️⃣: Jake greets Caitlin Clark after she is selected #1 overall in the WNBA draft.

Example 2️⃣: Jake sitting with Donna Kelce.

Example 3️⃣: Jake dapping up Travis Scott.

Example 4️⃣: Jake wearing a custom jacket from Kristin Juszczyk, who most notably designed a jacket for Taylor Swift.

If I had said we are doing a lesson on a brand that has done collabs with Drake, Travis Scott, and professional athletes the LAST industry you’d think they were in is home insurance.

State Farm is knocking it out of the park with Jake, showing up in ways no other brand can, and staying relevant with the culture in their greater push to make insurance cool, and it’s WORKING.

I’m super excited to see where they take this.

Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
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