Reversals of Fortune via Campbell-Ewald

LOS ANGELES A bear ravages a minivan and a car plunges over a cliff in two television spots breaking next week for Farmers Insurance.

The ads, from Interpublic Group’s Campbell-Ewald in Santa Monica, Calif., retain the tag, “Farmers. Gets you back where you belong,” which has been used since 1996. Spending on the campaign was undisclosed. Farmers had $14 million in advertising expenditures last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

The 30-second TV spots focus on auto insurance and show scenes in reverse so that damaged vehicles are restored to their original condition. They are the first TV spots from the Los Angeles-based insurance provider in nearly two years, said Campbell-Ewald executive creative director Debbie Karnowsky.

In “Unbearable,” a bear tears apart the interior of a minivan that is parked next to a campsite in the woods. Gradually, the upholstery is fixed, the steering wheel put back in place, and the bear is seen replacing the lid on a box of doughnuts, which is evidently what attracted him to the vehicle. The voiceover: “When the unexpected happens, no one is more focused on getting things back to normal again than your Farmers agent.”

The other spot, “Unsinkable,” opens with a pelican flying lazily over a serene ocean. The calm is disturbed as a car rises out of the water and lands at the top of a cliff. A man is shown leaning on the convertible while a woman tries to take his picture. The voiceover: “Life’s full of surprises. That’s why no one is more focused on getting your car back to normal than your Farmers agent.”

Ads have a “Back to the Future twist,” to make viewers wonder if the events really happened, said Karnowksy. For instance, the spot with the bear shows the animal exiting the minivan and then has some kids commenting that they need to get the doughnuts, which indicates that they may not have left them in the vehicle. Both spots close with the George and Ira Gershwin song, “S’Wonderful,” which would seem to contrast the terrible scenarios until it becomes obvious that the damage is being undone, said Karnowsky.

Past efforts for Farmers have shown more common occurrences, such as a house on fire or a car being broken into. “Sometimes in life, things happen that are wilder than that,” said Karnowksy. “Even then, Farmers helps you get back to normal and reverses the damage.”

TV spots are running on network and cable during programs such as Pulse, The Tony Awards, Good Morning America and Dateline.

The campaign also includes two 60- and two 30-second radio spots. Those ads are set in a restaurant and have people explaining to friends how they ended up in the situations shown in the TV spots.