State Farm Breathes Life Into the Possessions We Love in Evocative ‘Backstory’ Campaign

A return to simpler things

Building on its new tagline, “Here to help life go right,” State Farm and DDB Chicago have released a bevy of new spots in a campaign called “Backstory.”

Its crux is as follows: On one level, possessions are simply things; on another, they can represent something a lot bigger. In some of the ads, lovingly recuperated and refurbished goods are subject to long investments of time and care to bring them new life.

This theme appears in three of the spots, “Piano,” “Car” and “Chair.”

A 60-second spot, “Remodel,” changes the tenor while touching upon the same general idea. Somewhat reminiscent of Leroy Merlin’s “Life’s Adventure,” the work follows a couple into a decrepit house and pays silent witness to their efforts to make it a home. The struggles and evolution of both the space and their family play their symbiotic, and expected, roles here.

The last spot, “Truck,” tells perhaps the most resonant story at all, though it remains a classic. We follow a man through what may well be anywhere in middle America as he struggles patiently and wordlessly, from one public transport offering to the next, making ends meet in an indifferent world.

You can probably guess what the payoff is, but that doesn’t make the journey any less touching. “Truck” ties together our nation’s favorite fables—lifting yourself up by your bootstraps, winning the independence your own truck gives you, and being able to address the open road (of life!) on your own hard-won terms.

This ad repeats the ending heard in previous spots, modified for its subject: “While other insurance companies just see a truck, we see something you’ve worked really hard for, so give it the protection it deserves.” We close with the tagline onscreen: “Here to make life go right.”

“Backstory” builds on the campaign that launched the new tagline during the NBA Finals last year, following a creative review in which DDB successfully defended the business. It maintains a steady hand on real-world themes and the notion that insurance isn’t just there for unforeseen crises; it’s a critical ally in planning the life you want with peace of mind.

In this case, the focus is on items that represent priorities, dreams and struggles. The folksy, down-to-earth quality of the production and copywriting (“we see something you’ve worked really hard for”) also lends a broad, easily relatable appeal that differs from the more pop culture-focused campaigns of past, which also signals a change in target market.

What you see here may still appeal to millennial and bicoastal audiences, but it’s also speaking to a larger market of families and everyday bootstrappers—something closer to the salt of our earth.

“Backstory” ranges from :06 to :60 formats, and will see a staggered nationwide release on traditional broadcast and online.


State Farm “Backstory”: Truck/Remodel Credit List

Creative Agency: DDB
Ari Weiss: Chief Creative Officer, DDB North America
John Maxham: Chief Creative Officer, DDB Chicago
Mel Routhier: Group Creative Director
Rua Perston: Creative Director
Matt Cramp: Creative Director
Diane Jackson: Chief Production Officer
Scott Kemper: Executive Producer
Amy Turner: Senior Producer
Zoe Grubbe: Production Manager
Linda Bres: Music Production Manager
Ben Gladstone: Group Business Director
Veronica Zamiar: Account Director
Oliver Glenn: Account Supervisor
Katie Murphy: Account Executive
Jack Perone: Chief Strategy Officer
Neil Kumar: Strategy Director

Production: Biscuit Filmworks
Director: Noam Muro
Partner/Managing Director: Shawn Lacy
Executive Producer: Rick Jurjoura
Producer: Charleotte Woodhead
Head of Production: Mercedes Allen-Sarria/Rachel Glaub
Director of Photography: Jo Willems
Production Designer: Bruse McClosky

Editorial: Work Editorial
Editor: Neil Smith
Assistant editor: Erik Vogt-Nilsen
Producer: Brian Scharwath
Executive Producer: Marlo Baird

Post: Freekfolk
Colorist: Paul Harrison
Flame Op/Creative Director: Jason Watts
Executive Producer: Celia Williams

Music Agency for Supervision and Licensing: Groove Guild
Partner/Music Supervisor: Al Risi – Truck
“Break my Bones” by John Taylor

Audio Post: The DDB Studio
Audio Engineer: Nicholas Papule
Assistant: Cameron Aper