We Hear: State Farm in the Midst of a Creative Review

By Patrick Coffee 

State Farm has not given us a definitive answer on the current status of its advertising business, but sources tell us that the company recently launched a creative review, which is now in its pitch stage with DDB Chicago defending the account. It goes without saying that State Farm has had a long relationship with DDB, whose chairman emeritus Keith Reinhard wrote its “Like a Good Neighbor” tagline.

We hear that “many agencies” are pitching what would be a sizable new business win, and the list of shops based in Chicago that would be able to take on this client is relatively short.

Back in 2010, State Farm moved its creative business from what was then Tribal Worldwide DDB to FCB Chicago (then DraftFCB) starting with the auto-specific portions of the account. Digital work soon followed, but the celebrations for FCB were very brief as that relationship lasted less than a year. It seems that State Farm asked the two agencies to pitch fresh ideas due to market pressure stemming from the success of Leo Burnett’s Mayhem campaign for Allstate, and DDB won out because, as an executive said at the time, its ideas were “simply better.”

One of those ideas was the 2011 “Jake from State Farm” spot, which proved quite popular and put DDB into “a state of euphoria.” In a sign that State Farm might once again be searching for new ideas, DDB Chicago’s most recent work for the brand revived the long-dead Coneheads in a remake of “Jake” right after the client ran another version of the old ad, this one staffed by emojis.

State Farm remains America’s largest insurance company in the auto and property/casualty sectors, and Kantar Media estimated that the company spent $583 million on measured media back in 2012.

DDB reps declined to comment for this post, and State Farm’s marketing team simply said, “We consistently work with multiple agencies to maintain a relevant brand in the marketplace.”