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State Farm Courts Parents With Nickelodeon Deal

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At first blush, the partnership between an insurance company and a children's network seems about as unlikely as the amity shared by the eight-year-old animal rescuer Diego and his shape-shifting Reggaetón-riffing backpack. But a new deal pairing State Farm Insurance and Nickelodeon underscores how marketers are increasingly tapping the kids marketplace as a means to reach adult consumers.

As part of a one-year, multimillion-dollar deal that was hashed out in the 2006 upfront, State Farm will enjoy a significant presence on Nickelodeon in 2007, including 30-second spots on the linear network, as well as a minimum of 400 ads promoting Nick's Go, Diego, Go Live! tour. Execution begins this month, with the spots slated to appear in all dayparts, including the Nick Jr. preschool block.

Creative will focus on State Farm's automotive insurance business, and the deal marks the first time the company has made a buy on a network devoted to kids. Likewise, it is the first insurance category deal for Nickelodeon, which has partnered with nine automotive brands since 2000, when it welcomed the Ford Motor Co. aboard as a sponsor.

Last year, Nick did "well over $50 million" in non-endemic categories and expects to do even more business in 2007, said Jim Perry, evp, 360 brand sales, Nickelodeon and MTVN kids and family group.

"I think we're going to see many more financial and banking companies working with Nickelodeon, and I hope to see more automotive and more retail business," Perry said. "Just about about any brand out there interested in talking to families is a potential partner."

The changing nature of how viewers watch children's' fare makes Nick and other kids services key showcases for adult brands. "We found that adults are a lot more attentive when they're watching junior programming," said OMD group director Shari Staiano. "Parents are more judicious about what their kids are watching, but more importantly, kids are a lot less likely to turn away during commercial breaks."

The Nick Jr. block draws a particularly high number of parents, boasting a co-viewing rate of 33 percent among adults 18-49 with kids under 6––157 percent higher than Nick's closest competitor, according to Nielsen Media Research NPower data. "That first generation of viewers are now parents," Perry said. "They really trust the brand and so they know they can watch us with their kids."

In the first 10 months of 2006, State Farm spent a total of $176 million on TV, including $44 million on cable, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus data. According to Mark Gibson, assistant vp, advertising, State Farm, what makes this particular cable buy so attractive is its platform-agnostic approach.

"We live in a TiVo world, so while we can achieve a broad-based reach with TV, we also want to be able to leverage every platform available to us," Gibson said. Not surprisingly, the Nick pact includes Web elements (NickJr.com), as well as print (Nick Jr. Family Magazine). "The multiple environments give us the opportunity to touch consumers in a much more holistic way," Gibson said.

Non-endemic business is expected to continue to gravitate to the kids market this year, with categories limited only by their relevance. "It all depends on whether or not the creative makes sense on the network," Staiano said.

"State Farm does feel-good creative. It's not at all out of place," she added.