In late January, weeks before the pandemic set in, State Farm made a move that would power the insurer through a turbulent year: It rekindled its iconic tagline, “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm Is There.” The 49-year-old line is among the most recognizable phrases in advertising, but State Farm in 2016 put it on the back burner as it rolled out "Here to Help Life Go Right,” as part of a marketing reframe meant to highlight its breadth of services.
The decision to bring back the old line was a pragmatic move that allowed State Farm to beat back aggressive approaches from big-spending competitors including Geico and Progressive. “The problem was," says State Farm Chief Marketing Officer Rand Harbert, "we weren’t going to be able to spend enough money in a really busy marketplace for [‘Here to Help Life Go Right’] to ever get the traction it was going to need to get to be as impactful as ‘Like a Good Neighbor’ was almost the first time that we re-ran It.”
In 2020, the 98-year-old company did more than reclaim a piece of its past—it unleashed a modernization program that touched nearly every facet of its business, from overhauling its media investments and ad partnerships to bolstering its digital acumen. In an era when plenty of brands are playing lip service to “agility,” State Farm moved faster than most, getting coronavirus-response ads to air quickly while finding new ways to reach consumers, including moving beyond its normally sports-heavy strategy when leagues shut down earlier this year. The overhaul led to a record year of growth as it added 1.5 million auto policies through November, according to figures State Farm provided to Ad Age.