Chris Paul, James Harden Sing Along to the Backstreet Boys for State Farm

The ballers know all the words

Like a good neighbor, Chris Paul is there … in Houston!

This State Farm ad finds the NBA superstar exploring his new city, where he runs into a pair of his big-time baller friends. Naturally, they wind up driving around and singing along to the Backstreet Boys.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?

For the 2017-18 hoop season, Paul moved from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Houston Rockets. That shift formed the basis of “Going Away Party,” the nine-time All Star’s previous commercial for the insurer that dropped last last month. It featured Paul yukking it up with State Farm agent Cole Perez, played by Oscar Nunez from The Office.

Now there’s a sequel, which breaks widely on Christmas Day, and opens with the agent taking Paul on a “Grand Tour” that includes bowling, barbecue and “I Want It That Way” blasting on the car radio. Soon, they encounter two of Paul’s new Rockets teammates. Could one of them be James Harden, by any chance?

Of course it’s James Harden! (Hey, Trevor Ariza, nice harmonies, but have you considered growing out your beard?)

“As we thought about different ways to illustrate what it feels like when someone really gets you, we immediately thought about potential similarities between Cole and Chris,” says John Norman, creative chief at Translation, which developed the campaign. “From an identical food order to a favorite pastime of bowling to the same guilty-pleasure song, we wanted to use examples that people can identify with within their own personal relationships.”

What State Farm agents actually do for Paul—or anyone who makes a big move—is kind of vague. They bowl and sing with you? Cool.

As for the so-awful-it’s-awesome song selection, Norman says “I Want It That Way” turned out to be the perfect choice, in no small part because “the talent knew all the words.”

Everyone seems to have fun, and client advertising director Patty Morris says the bromance between Paul and his State Farm agent “is carried throughout the rest of the campaign.”

An unnamed former Rocket—Norman calls him “an NBA legend”—will join Paul and Co. in future ads. Could it be Charles Barkley? The Round Mound has gnarly car-ayoke skills, so he’d fit right in.

Brand/Client: State Farm
Campaign Title: Sixth Sense
Spot Title: “Grand Tour” (:60/:30L/:15L/:15L)
First Air Date: December 25th, 2017
Agency: Translation, LLC
Chief Executive Officer & Founder: Steve Stoute
President: Patrick Lafferty
Chief Creative Officer: John Norman
Group Creative Director: Eric Steele
Group Creative Director: Lance Ferguson
Creative Director: Tucker Loosbrock
Creative Director: Stephen Petronis
Director of Content Production: Miriam Franklin
Director of Business Affairs: Thalia Tsouros
Executive Content Producer: Colleen Miller
Integrated/Digital Content Producer: Sara Tunstall
Associate Producer: Ruganzu Howard
Copywriter: Andrew Kim
Art Director: Dan Koo
Group Account Director: Susanna Swartley
Account Director: Julia Farber
Account Director: Zach Dioneda
Account Executive: Chloe Williams
Group Strategy Director: John McBride
Strategy Director: Geoff McHenry
Social Strategy Director: John Petty
Social Strategist: Netta Dobbins
Senior Project Manager: Meredith Volpe
Production Company: World War Seven
Director: David Shafei
Director of Photography: Bryan Newman
Executive Producer: Josh Ferrazzano
Line Producer: Bo Clancey
Editorial Company: Arcade Edit NYC
Editor: Dave Anderson
Assistant Editor: Joseph Petruccio
Post Executive Producer: Sila Soyer
Senior Post Producer: Fanny Cruz
VFX Company: Framestore NYC
Executive Producer: Nick Fraser
VFX Senior Producer: Lily Tilton
Shoot Supervisor: Maura Hurley
VFX Supervisor: Martin Lazaro
Design/Matte Painting Team:
CG Lead: Charlotte Bae, Steven Johnson
Compositing Supervisor: Martin Lazaro
Composite Team:
Greg Cutler, Liz Yang, Elaina Brillantes, Xuechu Chang, Philip Rambowski
Color Grade Company: Company 3
Colorist: Tim Masick
Producer: Colleen Valentino
Audio Post: Heard City
Mixer: Phil Loeb
Executive Producer: Sasha Awn
Music: Ring The Alarm
Partners: Brent Nichols & Daron Hollowell
Executive Creative Director: Brent Nichols
Executive Producer: Daron Hollowell
Producer: Dylan Marder
Backstreet Boys
“I Want It That Way”

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.