How Being 'There' at Right Time Paid Off for State Farm Musicians

After Meeting at a Commercial Casting, Los Felinos Are Touring the Country With Fire Advertainment

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NEW YORK ( -- What if, during the casting of a State Farm commercial, three struggling Mexican musicians with day jobs such as gardening and construction work meet for the first time and form a successful band, get gigs, release a CD, do radio and TV interviews, and live the American dream?

That narrative is unfolding right now. And it's all being orchestrated behind the scenes by branded-entertainment company Fire Advertainment, working with Alma DDB, the U.S. Hispanic agency that did the traditional four-spot campaign for the insurance company, including one commercial featuring the aspiring musicians.
Los Felinos de la Noche's first song means 'I'm there.'
Los Felinos de la Noche's first song means 'I'm there.'

The next step was to get them performing live, so Fire arranged for the group, now called Los Felinos de la Noche (Felines of the Night, named for the cats that howled at their evening rehearsals), to be the unpaid opening band for 19 live concerts around the U.S. in May and June. At the shows, the band is introduced as the group whose lives were changed by a State Farm commercial. Los Felinos' 45-minute set always starts with their first song, written by Fire and called "Ah� Estoy," a Spanish-language version of State Farm's "I'm there" tagline.

The consistent, central message is that "they're the guys who made it after getting their start with a State Farm commercial," said Christian Reslen, creative director-CEO of Miami-based Fire USA. The musicians always mention the marketer's support in the growing number of interviews they are doing with popular radio hosts and on TV. Last month, Los Felinos even appeared on a top-rated Univision reality show as the band to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. See the State Farm "Los Felinos" segment on 3 Minute Ad Age.

Los Felinos' first video is all over sites like YouTube and MySpace's Latino section, and Mr. Reslen is trying to figure out how to distribute the Los Felinos CD that is about to come out. The attention to detail is meticulous. For instance, the CD is dedicated to Los Felinos' friends, family and the DDB creative director who cast them in the commercial.

Felino yourself
The band is up to four songs now, including one with a Los Felinos dance. A new website,, will include the dance steps -- along with concert dates, song downloads and pictures -- so that visitors can create and dispatch viral e-mails of their own heads on a dancing body.

Mr. Reslen, who was in a band in college, has boundless enthusiasm for marketing Los Felinos. Their catchy sound is a fusion of traditional Mexican music and pop, with instruments ranging from the accordion to drums. And their songs must be upbeat, because life is hard enough.

"The story of Los Felinos de la Noche is compelling and represents the American dream of perseverance and achieving success," said Mark D. Gibson, State Farm's assistant VP-advertising.

"We can connect with our target and show that we care," Mr. Reslen said. "And they're hard to reach with conventional advertising."

Rodrigo Figueroa Reyes, president-executive creative director of Buenos Aires-based Fire Adver-tainment, which is 40% owned by DDB, said the goal is to get Los Felinos their own concert date as the main band. And he's counting on making the band a big enough hit to get State Farm to sign on for a 13-episode reality series telling the story of Los Felinos to air on Spanish-language TV before the end of the year.
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