Danny DeVito Saves State Farm Super Bowl Ad From Arnold Schwarzenegger

The insurer grapples with the action star's accent as it strengthens both its motto and sports marketing strategy

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State Farm brought Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito to the Super Bowl—and may have created the film industry’s first stunt speaker in the process.

After forgoing a broadcast spot to pursue younger audiences on TikTok in 2022 and in the metaverse during last year’s game—largely because its brand was already on State Farm Stadium in 2023—the insurer returned for Super Bowl 58 with a 60-second spot right before the second quarter. 

But there’s an issue.

In this ad produced with help from Highdive—and supported by OMD, Optimum Sports, The Marketing Arm, Infinity Marketing Team and FleishmanHillard—Schwarzenegger is the star of the company’s new Agent State Farm action clip, but famously drops the letter R when speaking. 

State Farm

State Farm’s motto—”Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there”—is balanced upon one of the most solid Rs in American English. How they sell a single policy in much of New England remains a mystery, but hearing Schwarzenegger reduce the motto’s key word to “neighbaaa” proves too much for the company to bear.

Jake from State Farm tries to play Henry Higgins to Schwarzenegger’s Eliza Dolittle, but State Farm-approved elocution eludes him. After a particularly hardheaded director pushes forward and hands Schwarzenegger lines with multiple references to “neighbor” and one instance of a woman in labor, he offers a revision to the script.

The next time Schwarzenegger attempts the line, he’s saved by a colleague who’s bailed him out of on-screen trouble before: Danny DeVito. Oh, you thought he was just the leftover bundle of cells and DNA played for laughs in 1988’s Twins? Whose animated counterpart saved Schwarzenegger’s cop caricature from certain death in 1993’s Last Action Hero? Who delivered a pregnant Schwarzenegger’s baby (and convinced him to carry one in the first place) in 1994’s Junior? In the late 20th century, DeVito was Schwarzenegger’s comedic conservator.

After over enunciating Os for more than a decade on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and familiarizing himself with a hard R while directing and starring in 2002’s Death to Smoochy, DeVito nonchalantly takes over much of the motto from Schwarzenegger. DeVito’s “backstabaaa” becomes a backstabber as he saves the day for State Farm, which wants to further cement its slogan in pop culture. 

“We thought the biggest, most watched event of the year is apropos for what we’re trying to accomplish,” said State Farm CMO Kristyn Cook. “I think it’s just about the flexibility of what we’re trying to accomplish: This year, it’s all about that iconic slogan, and we are striving to make it even more famous than what it is.”

Where State Farm is

State Farm aired its first-ever Super Bowl ad—featuring Drake—just three years ago to draw attention to Jake from State Farm. It achieved its mission, placing No. 8 out of 57 ads on the USA Today Ad Meter

This year, State Farm surrounded its spot with a movie trailer, extended long-form teaser, IMDB page, movie landing page, appearance by Schwarzenegger on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and sponsorship of the CBS Super Bowl Halftime Report.

Within the last year alone, State Farm has expanded its sports marketing efforts by teaming up with Maximum Effort on a viral, Taylor Swift-inspired visit by Jake from State Farm to a Philadelphia Eagles game to hang out with Jason and Donna Kelce. It capitalized on relationships with not only Travis Kelce, but his Kansas City Chiefs “MaAuto” teammate Patrick Mahomes and coach Andy Reid.

It serves as the official home and auto insurance of both the NBA and WNBA, and invested in the WNBA’s very near future by signing University of Iowa star and NCAA scoring title-chaser Caitlin Clark to the company’s first NIL deal that’s already put her in State Farm ads

“We continue to strive to be synonymous with sports, and certainly there’s business value in that we know that that’s where the eyeballs are,” Cook said. “But more importantly, it’s where families and friends and communities come together.”

For the latest Super Bowl 58 advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out ADWEEK’s Super Bowl 2024 Ad Tracker and the rest of our stories here. And join us on the evening of Feb. 11 for the best in-game coverage of the commercials.

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