Whether we’re developing a multi-million-dollar Super Bowl spot or debating what copy should go on a banner ad, our mission here at RPA remains the same: To tell a brand’s story in a compelling, human way.
In advertising, we call that taking a media-agnostic and story-centric approach. Really what it means is that regardless of the medium, we think great advertising starts with a great story. Case in point: the latest iteration of our University of Farmers® campaign, “We Know from Experience.”
Building on the insight that Farmers’ agents know a thing or two because they’ve seen a thing or two, we canvassed agents for their wildest stories so we could turn them into ads. Once we had our collection of strange-but-true tales, it was simply a matter of finding the most interesting ways to tell them. The challenge is how to do so in a manner that keeps it relevant and fresh. “We look at TV shoots as content shoots that can be leveraged across as many channels as possible,” explains account management supervisor Adrienne Feldman. Take for example a claim covered by Farmers involving a pack of dogs flooding the entire first floor of their owner’s home, which we affectionately call “Mer-Mutts.” One way to tell this story is a 30-second spot.
While television provides us a straightforward medium, digital formats also provide a wealth of opportunities to tell our narrative in completely new ways. With buzz for the Summer Olympics building, we seized the opportunity by using footage we captured during our content shoot to create a new event: The Flooded House Dog-Diving Competition.
Mer-Mutts: Dog Diving
The event was kicked off with a YouTube masthead that introduced the competition and led viewers to a YouTube playlist spotlighting seven individual videos of dogs plunging off furniture, stairs, and even a high-dive mantel, and into the submerged living room.
The videos were shared across Farmers’ social media platforms, helping us join in on the conversation around the Summer Olympics, and share entertaining feats of canine athleticism with the world, as well as the Farmers campaign message.
In addition to the Olympics, we also used footage from our content shoot to help Farmers take on the Oscars® with an original, claim-centric awards show: the Burkies. Created completely from re-edited footage, this campaign re-imagined each of the commercial spots, including “Mer-Mutts,” as movie trailers that people could share and vote on.
Mer-Mutts: Burkies Trailer
But the campaign didn’t stop there. To capitalize on Oscar buzz, we created promotional movie posters and even showed our trailers in a select group of movie theaters as well as on CNN entertainment.
Mer-Mutts: Movie Poster
In the fast-paced world of social media, finding ways to share these claims as bite-sized content is critical. So, building on a popular meme called “Animal Shaming” in which pets somberly sit next to handwritten confessions of what they’ve done to their owners, we created our own Farmers-themed version of this called “Claim Shaming,” which features the animals from claim stories like “Mer-Mutts.”
Playing off Facebook’s “On This Day” feature, which shows memories from a person’s timeline history, we shared claim stories, including “Mer-Mutts,” as faux-life events called “Not on this Day.” Doing so allowed us to tell this same story from a completely different, first-person perspective.
As banner ads, stories like “Mer-Mutts” need to be told in their most truncated form: with a single sentence and image.
Conversely, the same story can be presented as an exhibit in Farmers’ online “Hall of Claims” complete with curation from Farmers’ very own spokesman, Professor Nathaniel Burke.
Mer-Mutts: Hall of Claims
So far, the process has been a fruitful one. With a combination of snackable content for social media and high-impact digital media opportunities, the Farmers team has been able to tell a consistent brand story that fits seamlessly into what people are paying attention to at a given moment in time. And in doing so, the campaign executions have captured far more awareness per dollar spent than has been seen in the history of Farmers Insurance advertising. “In a landscape where many of our competitors spend 5-10x what we do, we’ve consistently punched above our weight, growing unaided communications awareness nearly 20% in a year,” says strategic analyst Matt Cooper.
As for the next chapter, Farmers Insurance has many stories yet to tell and we look forward to all the different ways that we can tell them.