Is State Farm Discount Double Check Ad the Best-Ever Use of Celebrity in Advertising?

As a die-hard Chicago Bears fan, this pains me to say, but I think the State Farm ad featuring Green Bay Packers tremendous quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, might just be the best use of a celebrity in a single commercial that I’ve ever seen.  A bold claim, I know.  Endorsement legend, Michael Jordan has appeared in countless memorable ads for Nike (“It’s Gotta Be the Shoes”), Gatorade (“Be Like Mike”) and McDonald’s (“Nothing But Net”).  Before the downfall, Tiger Woods was an endorsement juggernaut.  Personally, I believe the best work he was involved with was the Accenture print campaign.  

Aaron Rodgers is having a remarkable year leading the defending Super Bowl champion Packers to (as of this writing) an undefeated season.  He is fairly soft spoken.  He performs and always makes the right comments in terms of crediting teammates and coaches.  He even handled the Brett Favre circus with class.  He does one thing that smacks at all of arrogance and it’s his “touchdown move” after scoring a rushing TD.  He makes a mock Championship Belt move across his waist.  Or, should I say, he does the Discount Double Check move.

The level of advertising from the insurance category has grown substantially over the last few years (VIEW AD AGE ARTICLE) with discount providers such as Geico and Progressive forcing the hand of more established insurers like Allstate and State Farm.  State Farm spent a lot of time and treasure going after a younger demographic with the Magic Jingle campaign which was proof positive that I’m old since I struggled to grasp why portraying its customers as slackers was a good thing.

In the area of sports marketing, brand marketers strive to become part of the game in a way that is disruptive but not intrusive.  By basically taking ownership of Rodgers’ signature move, State Farm has placed itself quietly, yet effectively, onto the field during Packer games.  While the acting by both Rodgers and the others cast in the spot is excellent and the writing solid, what makes this spot unique and most effective is the lingering impact of doing what amounts to a naming rights deal for “Discount Double Check” of Rodgers TD belt move.

A lesson can be learned from the State Farm creative.  Rather than simply forcing a celebrity they had under contract into an ad—as they did with the uninspiring Magic Jingle spot with LeBron James—they created a unique connection between Rodgers and a State Farm branded service.  In the cluttered insurance advertising landscape where differences between provider offerings is increasingly blurred, such a connection is critical in rising above the clutter.

Is the spot a little kitschy? Sure is, but it also is memorable and fun.  After what I would estimate at between 25-30 views within broadcast, I’m still getting a kick out of it.   And if a Bears fan can say that…..

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2 Responses to “Is State Farm Discount Double Check Ad the Best-Ever Use of Celebrity in Advertising?”

  1. Pete Merrill says:

    Great commercial, great article explaining State Farm’s brilliance.

  2. David Paro says:

    I suppose the press was just too good on the original Aaron Rodgers “Discount Double Check” ad. People seemed to really love it. So, what’s an advertiser to do when faced with such positive reaction? Well, it appears that in the case of State Farm you do like Hollywood does and rush out sequels. The follow up Discount Double Check ads, one featuring BJ Raji and another with Clay Matthews III, seem to me to kill what was great about the original ad.

    As we pointed out in our original post, owning the “move” of Aaron Rodgers was what made it clever and effective. By watering it all down, they’ve eliminated the uniqueness of the original concept. Hard to blame them for trying to take advantage of something when it’s hot, but the spots are very ill conceived.

    Also, what is the compulsion to sign more and more celebrities when doing so not only drains money unnecessarily but clouds the message the brand should be trying to put forth?