The NBA is back—and with it comes new marketing efforts. State Farm, a league sponsor since 2010, launched three new spots that all feature current league MVP James Harden and Houston Rockets teammate Chris Paul, who is also one of the league’s most popular players and is consistently a league leader in assists.
“Chris represents a player/person who assists and helps people both on and off the court, being one of the top point guards in the NBA and through the Chris Paul Family Foundation,” Ed Gold, Advertising Director, State Farm, told brandchannel. “Chris and James together represent teammates who work together to make their team and everyone around them better.”
The 96-year-old insurance company has thrown its money into the NBA because it is “the youngest and most multicultural of the four big sports leagues,” Gold said. It’s also attractive because its TV ratings have grown each year, Gold noted, unlike many other sports or entertainment programming on television. “The top players in the league are recognizable outside of the basketball court and are part of the popular culture,” he said.
Becoming part of pop culture, of course, is exactly what State Farm would like to happen with the three ads that focus on the idea that the brand and its agents are there to assist its customers whether things go well or completely haywire. The ads feature Paul and Harden along with actor Oscar Nunez portraying Paul’s State Farm agent.
In one spot, called RoboAgent, Paul, Harden and agent Perez receive a visit from a knockoff robot created by a rival insurance company to compete with State Farm and the value of its agents. To their bemusement, the robot looks like Perez. In the end, a robotic display of emotion reveals the knockoff can’t replicate the humanity and compassion of a State Farm agent.
In another spot, Nice Moments, Paul and Perez wait for help with a flat tire. The agent thinks every cloud looks like an overly detailed insurance disaster waiting to happen. This prompts Paul to suggest a vacation, to which Perez replies, “You know Chris, some of us don’t have an offseason.”
— State Farm (@StateFarm) October 17, 2018
In 19K Jerseys, Perez shows Paul his new State Farm agent league jersey, numbered 13,172. Why such a high number? The agent explains that State Farm has over 19,000 agents. “I wanted number 13,171,” he explains, “but Ty from Sioux Falls is in town, and he called dibs.” That’s when real-life State Farm agent Ty Teveldal (from Sioux Falls, South Dakota) makes a cameo.
This isn’t the first time this team has appeared together in State Farm ads. Late last year, Perez helped Paul during his move to Texas—and shared chili fries and a Backstreet Boys moment.
— State Farm (@StateFarm) December 25, 2017
“Shareability is great as we know that NBA players and fans are the most social of any of the four major sports leagues,” Gold said. While State Farm creates TV ads aimed at its NBA audience, it also captures additional content for social media purposes.
State Farm has spent a good deal of money to up its profile in the NBA this year, placing its name on the Atlanta Hawks arena. This happens to be the Hawks’ 50th anniversary season, which will get the team (and the arena) some PR as the season progresses.
In addition, the team has gotten tons of press for its $192.5 million redo of the arena, with new premium-seating areas, new clubs and restaurants, a barber shop and Topgolf simulators. The biggest shift in the redo is the addition of the league’s first continuous 360-degree video screen. The building also has video screens tucked away all over the place. Surely, they’ll on occasion be playing State Farm ads.
The brand’s hard work is paying off. According to a survey by Sports Business Journal, fan awareness of State Farm has increased for five straight years.