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How State Farm Uses Audio To Build ‘A Full Envelope Around Our Customer.’

With 20,000 insurance agents spread out across almost every zip code in the country, State Farm aims to not only reach into all those communities with its message but also reflect the diversity of those populations. Audio plays a big part in its media mix, not just because it penetrates all those population pockets but also for the depth and discovery of the content it offers.

“We're always thinking about what we say, how we say it, and where we say it,” State Farm VP of Marketing Alyson Griffin said at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) first ever Audio Summit this week. “And we have to be authentic in the ways we show up that matches who we are as a brand, and who we are as that good neighbor,” Griffin adds, referring to the insurer’s irrepressible jingle, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”

Griffin said the company looks for media partners that can deliver “diverse people [with] diverse opinions, diverse ideas, and make sure that we're reaching all of those audiences equally. That's why audio is important, because it is a wonderful addition to the mix of where we show up and how we show up.”

State Farm was radio’s 19th largest advertiser in the first half of 2022, based on spot volume, according to Media Monitors.

The 100-year-old insurance company’s audio strategy goes beyond merely using radio as a reach vehicle. It also increasingly targets customers and potential customers using digital audio, leveraging its depth and discovery attributes. Live sports is also a big part of its marketing mix, especially to reach Gen Z and Millennials.

“For us, it's not a one-size-fits-all. Audio gives us that flexibility, gives us that depth and discovery for us to match the passion points of our target,” said Griffin.

Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has appeared in several State Farm TV commercials over the past few years as part of its sports marketing efforts. The one that aired during NFL games this past Sunday – with Chiefs coach Andy Reid drawing fake mustaches on players faces on an airplane to get a special deal from Jake from State Farm – sparked conversations on social media and live radio.

“Part of the conversation that our folks are talking about on air is the new spot with Mahomes and the coach and mustaches on the plane,” iHeartMedia Chief Marketing Officer Gayle Troberman said during the ANA panel. “Brands that are doing audio well are starting conversations. You started a conversation on television with people watching the game, and then it carries over to broadcast radio with everyone talking about what they saw. And to me, that's just a perfect way to go cross-platform and win with both.”

State Farm’s current campaign revolves around its personal price plan and includes NFL, NBA, general market, Spanish language and audio components. “We have all the pieces thought through from the beginning, so that we've got this full envelope around our customer,” said Griffin. “We're thinking about all of the pieces and audio has to be a part of it so that we're triggering wherever that person is, and whatever they're doing in their life.”

The insurer’s jingle – “Like a good Neighbor, State Farm is there” – has become ubiquitous. “Sonic branding is super important to us,” Griffin said. “It's really important to who we are – the jingle overall but the sonic tune as well.” The audio logo, minus the words, comes in a nine-note and five-note versions, which are used in the open and close of its spots. State Farm ran more than 482,000 spots on radio from January through June of this year. During the ANA panel, which also included iHeart Chief Creative Officer Rahul Sabnis, Griffin offered a little-known fact about the famous jingle. It was composed by none other than Barry Manilow in 1971 – as a full song.

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