Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ad Age calls State Farm's foray into reality TV a "tricky branding task."

State Farm may be the second-biggest ad spender among insurance marketers, but an aggressive new media strategy is putting it at the top of the branded-entertainment pack.

The insurer recently had its debut as the integrated sponsor of "Jacked: Auto Theft Task Force," a new reality series airing Thursday nights at 10 on A&E, in which New Jersey-based State Farm agent Tom Tobin also appears. So the series apparently is like "Cops" but specializing in car theft and located on the bad-ass backstreets of Jersey. Yes, the insurance rates are pretty high there, and one of the reasons why The Garden State is such an expensive place to live.

The advertising manager for State Farm says insurance isn't always the easiest thing to brand when it comes to product placements, so when "Jacked" was pitched to State Farm and their media agency, Omnicom Group's OMD, they saw a rare branding opportunity.

Looks to me like the kind of opportunity that could certainly be tricky, but it makes sense for State Farm to jump on it. It's important for them to help consumers understand that even good drivers pay high rates for insurance because of all the bad people out there who make a living jacking cars. I suppose you can also think of it as somewhat of a reaction to the way car theft has been glamorized in those "Grand Theft Auto" video games. As the saying goes, "it's all fun and games until it happens to you."

Check out the Ad Age story here:

2008 Sarasota International Design Summit is October 27-29

The 2008 Sarasota International Design Summit is coming up. Scheduled for October 27-29, the 3-day event is presented by Ringling College of Art and Design and Sponsored by Target Corp. The Summit will feature presentations from a diverse mix of influential business and design leaders about how design is shaping the way we communicate using visual, social and mobile media.

It's only fitting that Target should sign on as the presenting sponsor for a prestigious event as this. I admire Target's brand personality very much. They are firmly committed to being a retailer who sends an intelligent, well-constructed message to consumers that design is important, and that consumers should look for well designed products, not just low prices.

Target will be well represented, along with others like Autodesk, Microsoft, Herman Miller and more.

Here's a partial list of speakers:

Michael Alexin - Target Corporation, Walter Bender - Sugar Labs, Chris Bernard - Microsoft, Duane Bray - IDEO, Tom Crawford - VizThink, Bruce Damer - Digitalspace, Dave Gray - XPlane, Josh Hallett - Voce Communications/Hyku, Steve Hamm- BusinessWeek, Jody Haneke - Haneke Design, Matt Jones -, Franco Lodato - Pininfarina Extra, Jennifer Magnolfi - Herman Miller, Dave Meeker - Roundarch, Teckla Rhoads - GM, Ryan Stewart - Adobe, Susan Sznesay - Metropolis Magazine,
Larry R. Thompson - Ringling College of Art and Design, Charles Warren - Google, Tom Wujec - Autodesk.

Stephen A. Smith & Associates Advertising has signed on as a sponsor and has produced a promotional video designed to increase registrations for the event. The video is a lot of fun to watch so take a look and consider registering for the event.