American Family Insurance is turning the tables on sports fandom in a new ad series, breaking Monday, in which Kevin Durant and J.J. Watt trade places with fans and cheer them on.
The pro athletes surprise everyday people, including a woman who is greeted with a sign that says "Mom. Nurse. Student. Hero." Mr. Watt runs with a man in training for a marathon, holding a sign that reads, "Your dream is just 26.2 miles away."
"Although we sell insurance, what we're really in the business of is inspiring, protecting and insuring dreams," said Telisa Yancy, VP-marketing at American Family. The campaign is meant to help the brand "personify this idea that dreams matter and dreams need champions and support," she said.
The push, created by BBDO and called "Signs of Support," builds on American Family Insurance's "Insure Carefully. Dream Fearlessly" campaign, which broke with a regional ad buy during the Super Bowl last year.
Mr. Durant and Mr. Watt were tapped because -- like singer Jennifer Hudson, who starred in the Super Bowl spot -- they represent the "classic underdog" who had to work harder than others, Ms. Yancy said.
"Bringing their stories to life is just a continuation of an ongoing strategy that says we believe your future and your dreams," said Ms. Yancy.
Fifteen and 30-second cuts of the ad will air on TV across local markets, with a focus on sports programming, while a longer-form version will run online. The 30-second spot will air nationally as well.
As part of the effort, which also includes print, digital, and social components, American Family Insurance will post messages from Mr. Durant and Mr. Watt on outdoor displays in response to tweets from fans.
The campaign adds to American Family Insurance's breadth of content on social media, YouTube, the microsite DreamFearlessly.com, and in ads, which had about 120 million views overall this year, Ms. Yancy said. "Keep watching us," she said. "We've got great things coming."