C-E Goes 2 Ways for Farmers

Campbell-Ewald’s latest ads for Farmers Insurance Group go in two different directions: forward and reverse.

Two new TV spots for the home and auto insurer build on the reverse-photography approach used in past efforts, but they strip out imagery such as a house burning or a car crashing. C-E evp and executive creative director Debbie Karnowsky called it the “an anti-clutter approach.”

“Everything you read is about people wanting to simplify life,” said Karnowsky, who has worked on the Farmers’ account since C-E won it in 1996. “The things that intrigue are the simplest things on the air.”

A spot titled “Rewind,” which breaks today, features a rewind button in the left corner of a white screen and the sounds of a car starting up, radio stations being changed, the squeal of breaks and a loud crash. The rewind button clicks and the actions are reversed. Farmers long-running tagline, “Gets you back where you belong,” is retained and completes the commercial.

“Fast Forward,” which opens with a fast-forward button and the words, “Your daughter,” focuses on the theme of saving money for college. Copy detailing events in the daughter’s life rapidly flash across the screen, such as “is born,” “puts oatmeal in the toaster” and finally, “gets into medical school.”

For several years, Farmers ads have used reverse photography to show homes torn apart by various disasters and rebuilt with the aid of insurance from the firm.

Farmers is expected to spend $45 million on advertising this year, about the same as in past years. The insurance company’s account was transferred to C-E’s Los Angeles office from its Warren, Mich., headquarters last May, in part to boost that office and because that’s where Farmers is headquartered. Karnow sky, who was the No. 2 creative in Detroit behind CCO and vice chairman Bill Ludwig, made the move with the business to take over the L.A. creative operation.

The TV spots will run nationally on cable stations such as the Turner Networks, CNN, A&E and late-night network programming, agency officials said.

A third spot, expected to break within the next two months, has “a corporate feeling” and includes “icons or metaphors for insurance, rather than a house fire or car damage,” Karnowsky said.