Customer-obsessed marketing

How State Farm Turned a Marketing Tagline into an Expression of Its Corporate Values

Jim Nail
Principal Analyst
January 11, 2018

Happy 2018! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and had a chance to relax. As we get back to the swing of our regular routines, I have to wonder — what becomes of the season of giving? The Salvation Army bell ringers have disappeared, and cause-related marketing ads promoting companies’ charitable giving (like Subaru’s Share the Love spots) have faded into the past. Soon, we’ll be obsessing over Super Bowl ads, and then it’s on to Presidents’ Day sales.

In this predictable transition, one company stands out: State Farm. Its latest ad, set to an acoustic cover of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” (of The Breakfast Club fame), reminds viewers that volunteerism and charity shouldn’t be limited to the holiday season. The ad closes with a poignant message: “The season of giving ends, but the need remains.”

You may be wondering why a car insurance company is promoting volunteerism, but one needn’t look further than State Farm’s longstanding jingle for an answer: Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. While the company retired this tagline in 2016, it has successfully transformed this neighborhood-centric message from a motto to a corporate value by:

  • Tying it to a values-driven platform. In March, State Farm launched its Neighborhood of Good platform, complete with a website that makes finding volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood a quick and easy process. State Farm also donated to charity all proceeds from the song it used in its first Neighborhood of Good commercial.
  • Incorporating these values into its culture. Employees are heavily encouraged to volunteer as well. In 2015, employees volunteered 501,000 hours to education-related causes (according to State Farm), and the company won corporate social responsibility leadership awards in 2016 and 2017, based in part on the number of volunteers and volunteer hours that employees put in.
  • Partnering with like-minded organizations. State Farm has formal partnerships with community-focused nonprofits such as the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and DonorsChoose.org.

All this is above-and-beyond the charitable giving and corporate foundation grants that, for many companies, are the full extent of their social responsibility programs.

As I explained in my last blog post, consumers are unlikely to give a hoot about your company motto (and any subsequent changes to it). State Farm successfully breaks through the noise by showing its motto isn’t just a line at the end of its commercials, but rather a mindset that holds true throughout its employees, customers, and communities. By taking tangible actions to show its dedication to the communities it’s present in, State Farm is well positioned to win over consumers’ hearts and wallets.

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