Longform / TV

Ad Nausea: State Farm’s ‘State of Fandom’

I’m not an accurate barometer for normal human interaction. I’d tell you to ask anyone who knows me, but I’ve subconsciously sabotaged all of my relationships.

Still, everything about this commercial seems exceedingly unrealistic and upsetting to me—and I’m not even really referring to the quasi-choreographed dance.

In what universe where society has developed to the point that people need to fiscally protect their possessions do customers ever—EVER—have close, personal relationships with their insurance agents?

This ad, along with every other car insurance ad, is symptomatic of a phenomenon you might not even realize has happened, and it’s all that goddamn gecco’s fault. If you’re old enough to remember answering machines, you’re old enough to remember that we didn’t always have to endure an endless barrage of commercials for car insurance. Never has there been a product that’s so utterly and understandably ignored been so ubiquitously and unabashedly marketed.

Except maybe milk. But even with “Got Milk?” ads, there’s really only one company hawking milk: the California Milk Processors Board, who really just wanted you to stop giving so much money to Pepsi.

Thanks to Geico and its aggressive advertising beginning in the late ‘90s, it spawned a veritable cold war of competing insurance brands battling for your attention over a product you never ever ever think about. I guarantee you won’t make it through any given commercial break without being beaten over the head about insurance by everyone from modern-day cavemen that only tangentially have anything to do with insurance anymore to agents that are apparently much more like genies than mortals who make $28K to an over-eager Progressive rep seemingly employed in purgatory.

Now we have State Farm’s almost understated yet infuriating “State Of…” campaign. You might recognize other entries in this series that depict a monotone Puddy-clone unintentionally forcing his agent to perform the lyrics to a Journey song or another in which a wife rightly suspects her husband of funny business when he calls his khaki-wearing agent at 3 a.m. for no apparent reason.

I understand the concept behind this campaign. It’s the same concept behind all insurance campaigns: Paint the myriad other companies as Orwellian conglomerates that treat you like a serial number and paint their own company as a down-home, tiny office on Main Street with people who actually know you exist and occasionally host Aaron Rodgers.

Of course, all of these companies are lying.

But State Farm is really taking this line of reasoning to its logical yet asinine conclusion: That we might be so grateful to our insurance agent for helping us get a good rate on car insurance that we’d ask him to attend a basketball game.

This in and of itself is harder for me to buy than the premise of Avatar.

How did these two fictional men explain this scenario to their wives?

(“Sorry, Sheila. I know it’s Thursday, but I can’t go to couples cooking because some guy who came in for insurance today asked me to go to a basketball game.”)

But that’s not what really bothers me.

What really bothers me is the fact that so much happens within the context of only 30 seconds of the night that these guys allegedly spend together that I can’t imagine how the rest of the evening must have gone.

Think about it: These assholes must have just taken their seats if the agent is just now getting around to thanking his client for the ticket. And in that very same moment, they conveniently end up on an exceedingly static stadium fan cam that gives them far more time to perform an impromptu dance than any other fan cam in the history of professional organized sports or impromptu dancing.

I’m not even gonna get into how matter-of-factly they seem to know this synchronized ass-clownery; or how the State Farm agent loves working for State Farm so much that he’s still proudly wearing his uniform sweater out in public like a Juggalo in traffic court; or that nobody around them seems to be struggling to refrain from kicking either of them in the neck.

No, what irks me the most is that the pair continue talking about insurance—adding additional coverage and laboring under the pretense that any of it is in the slightest way interesting—throughout this dance that nobody would ever perform.

Every time I see this, I think about the awkward minutes immediately following this insanely intimate idiocy. What could they possibly talk about for the rest of the game? They just blew what seems to be the only topic they have in common.

(“You’re much more open-minded than the guy who changed my oil last week. He did not like being touched.”)

Look, I know this is a commercial. It’s a ridiculous situation intentionally packaged into half a minute of supposed entertainment to push across information to subliminally make me buy something.

At least State Farm didn’t make us listen to a squealing pig.

And maybe I really am that detached from interpersonal relationships that this is how regular people interact. All I know is that if I insurance agents really were magical or gave the slightest shit about me as a person, I’d much rather they just go back to treating me like a number so I can go back to forgetting about them.

But I dunno. I barely even understand how insurance works.

One thought on “Ad Nausea: State Farm’s ‘State of Fandom’

  1. Tim,
    I am completely addicted to your writing style. It is super witty, funny, and well put together. However, while I share your disdain for the constant barrage of insurance commercials (although some are a bit entertaining, my favorite is the Geico “Pothole” commercial), I have to disagree with your position on this one.
    Insurance is most definitely NOT a commodity. State Farm is not for everyone, I am sure some people may enjoy calling a 1-800 number and waiting on hold for 30 minutes when they just totaled their car, but I think it is safe to say most people wouldn’t enjoy that level of service in their time of need.
    Full disclosure, I am a State Farm Agent… completely biased, but I still believe in a personal relationship with each of my clients to the extent that they each have my cell phone number. And, yes, I take them to Cub’s games, but no fancy jumbo-tron dances to date.

    Keep the content coming!


    Adam Hage
    708-275-6457 cell 🙂

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