In this installment of our creative excellence series for AAPI Heritage Month, we shine a light on Archana Mahadevan, VP-strategy director at DDB Chicago. Mahadevan was born in India and discovered her love for advertising as a creative intern at JWT in Chennai, eventually moving into account planning at Google. In 2013, she arrived at DDB Chicago, working her way up from senior brand strategist, to her current post as VP-strategy director. There, she has worked on major brands including State Farm, McDonald’s, La Quinta, and most recently, the U.S. Army account.
She believes that the “immigrant gaze” in advertising is still vastly underrepresented, and she’s a passionate advocate of DE&I at ther agency and in the industry at large. When she’s not busy writing briefs or planning activities for her young kids, she pays it forward by mentoring young talent trying to break it into advertising.
Here, she shares a key project in her career, the 2016 repositioning of State Farm as an insurance brand that's there to help bolster the good things happening in its customers' lives.
From early on in my life, 13 to be precise, I knew I wanted to be in advertising. I grew up in Chennai, India and worked at Google before moving to Richmond, Virginia to start over. In a lot of ways, looking back, every bit of my life has felt like small deliberate steps towards getting here and manifesting this life—doing what I love.
In my career at DDB (spanning a decade!), this work for State Farm is close to my heart because it is no small strategic feat to reframe an iconic American brand like State Farm, in a commoditized category like insurance. When you think about auto insurance, it’s associated with unpleasant and unfortunate experiences like accidents.
However, State Farm offers a range of services beyond auto, including home insurance, financial products, and services that people might not be aware of. These products often intersect with life’s most meaningful milestones and memories—buying your first home, having a baby, moving out and starting over. Unfortunately, people did not associate State Farm with those transformative moments. DDB wanted to reveal State Farm as a brand that’s here for you no matter where you are in life.
That is how “Here to help —— go right” was born. Through this reframe, we let the world know that State Farm is here to help potholes, baby bumps, retirement and even she-sheds go right.
In a very cluttered insurance category, where differentiated messaging is difficult, this launch talked about a utopian world where State Farm would still be there doing what it is best at—protecting people and enabling dreams, even when things go right.
“Here to help life go right” is a story of a business that has grown not just bigger, but stronger. Overall, this reframe resulted in 262% increase in brand consideration and helped a new audience see the brand in a whole new light.
Read: State Farm unveils new tagline, campaign