If the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs can win this weekend and earn a trip to Super Bowl LV, it would obviously be great news for their respective quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. It would also be big for an interested and invested third party:
Jake from State Farm.
In addition to being two of the best players in the NFL, Rodgers and Mahomes are among the most marketable. Mahomes has been a pitchman for State Farm the last two seasons, while Rodgers has been appearing in the insurance company’s ads since 2011. Their State Farm spots ran incessantly during last weekend’s divisional round playoff games. Expect more of the same during Sunday’s conference championship games.
And if Mahomes and Rodgers should meet in the Super Bowl? Then we’ll be hearing a lot more about the “Rodgers Rate” and the “Patrick Price.”
State Farm isn’t even the official insurance agency of the NFL (that distinction belongs to Nationwide). But it hasn’t kept State Farm from capitalizing on the NFL’s big stars. And having Rodgers and Mahomes meet in Super Bowl LV would be a perfect storm.
“In my writing and teaching on sponsorship, I talk about opportunities for synergy where the combined effect of two promotional efforts, when linked, is greater than the sum of the parts,” said T. Bettina Cornwell, Philip H. Knight Chair and head of department of marketing at Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon. “This is one of those opportunities. Both Rodgers and Mahomes making it to the Super Bowl has synergistic potential and it could be even larger if they activate with communications around the Super Bowl featuring both of these possible MVPs.”
That said, Cornwell wasn’t sure how much bang for the buck State Farm would get.
“Insurance isn’t one of those products where you wake up and say, ‘Wow, I am going to get some new insurance today!’ So they made a smart decision to come closer to the action and passion by sponsoring people (they also sponsor esports star Benjamin Lupo) and places (State Farm Stadium in Arizona, and State Farm Arena in Atlanta). Their sponsorship portfolio has always been predominantly in sports.”
As for a return on investment, longtime sports marketing professional and professor at Columbia University Joe Favorito thinks State Farm has already gotten whatever ROI it was going to get from Rodgers and Mahomes.
“If media ask the two of them about it during availabilities in the coming weeks, that will help, but overall I think the way the ads have been planned and executed have gotten State Farm their ROI to date,” said Favorito. “What will be interesting to see is how that activation can be pushed, even without the two physically involved, leading up to the game.”
Favorito suggested State Farm should use this opportunity to move their sponsorship forward.
“While it was a great call to have two elite, engaged athletes involved in such a long program,” said Favorito, “I don’t think the overall bump will be that substantial unless there is a pivot they are doing for a new activation that has been planned.”
Perhaps this tweet from @JakeStateFarm is a hint that something new is coming on Feb. 7 – Super Bowl Sunday.
As Cornwell pointed out, adding a charitable component to what State Farm is doing might be the smart move.
“The second arm of the State Farm sponsorship portfolio is cause,” Cornwell said. “They have the opportunity to take this double limelight and feature a cause instead of a branding message. People are ready to reward brands that care about society. State Farm’s messages about pricing have already been successful, but with so much online comparison shopping, tipping to purchase could hinge on being a caring brand.”
Patty Morris, assistant VP of marketing for State Farm, acknowledged that Mahomes and Rodgers lend tremendous brand value. “Not only because they’re the top two quarterbacks in the league,” she said, “but because our consistent advertising with them has become instantly recognizable in sports programming.”
Morris said the Mahomes and Rodgers ads are consistently top performers in the insurance category for memorability and brand linkage. And she hinted at future activation.
“Heading into the NFC and AFC championships, State Farm couldn’t be in a better position in football,” she said, “and we’re definitely going to be making the most of that – stay tuned.”
Suffice it to say Jake will have a strong rooting interest this weekend.