When Farmers first came to RPA in 2010, their brand was so invisible that State Farm actually got more credit for the advertising Farmers was running. Not ideal.
In fact, their #1 brand attribute was literally “dull and boring.” Farmers wasn’t the cheapest or the most high-tech. They relied on agents, in a time when lots of folks preferred a website or an app. They weren’t fundamentally differentiated at all. And they were (and still are) massively outspent by the competition. With GEICO and Progressive spending in the billions, and State Farm and Allstate close behind, the race was to simply buy awareness through massive media presence — and we didn’t have nearly their budget.
Since we couldn’t be louder, we needed to be smarter.
Farmers is an agent-driven insurer, rather than a top-down corporate monolith. The strength of their business model lies in empowering and cultivating expert agents, local to communities all over the country, and highly specialized at handling complex claims. The kind of agents who could appeal to a very specific kind of customer: a group we dubbed the “Confident Planners.” Those who wanted more information, more depth, more personal attention.
Rather than merely celebrating the know-how of our agents, we flipped the script and led with a message of empowerment. By cultivating the smartest agents, we make our customers smarter.
To bring this idea to life, we created a place: the University of Farmers. A legendary institution that embodies our brand promise: “We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two.”
And your guide through this place would be an empathetic, approachable yet authoritative figurehead: Professor Burke.
The cherry on top? An audio mnemonic that recalled classic college fight songs: “We are Farmers — bum-ba-dum-bum-bum-bum-bum.”
The campaign has been running for over a decade — and continues to get stronger. Our recent work has some of the highest recall in the history of the campaign. And we have the lowest cost per point of communication effectiveness in the category — by a wide margin. In 2020, we won a Gold Effie Award for Sustained Success.
Q&A: J.K. Simmons on His Post-Oscar Popularity and Why He's So Selective About Ads
Forget the Oscars, Farmers Insurance is running its own awards