By Barry Janoff
October 6, 2012: Aaron Rodgers gets no respect from people in State Farm ads who portray residents of Green Bay. Fortunately for State Farm, the way they have seamlessly connected Rodgers' touchdown championship belt maneuver to its Discount Double Check move has garnered the insurance company a tremendous amount of respect and awareness.
In his first spot for the insurance firm, a couple who meet the Packers' quarterback at a Green Bay State Farm office laugh at his claim that he is a professional quarterback and even take ownership of his touchdown belt dance by turning it into their own Discount Double Check move.
In subsequent ads, Rodgers is upstaged by his Packers teammates, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji. And in every spot in which Rodgers appears, he is mocked by a man decked out in a Green Bay jersey and wearing a cheese head, who yells at him, "Hey, Rodgers! Discount Double Check!"
Now, in a new spot for State Farm breaking during NFL games on Sunday, Rodgers gets dissed by kids when he shows up at a grade school for Career Day.
Todd Fischer, manager of marketing communications for State Farm, said that State Farm re-ran previous commercials staring Rodgers during the week before the new spot broke to reconnect the message with consumers. "We wanted to remind people of its origin when they saw the new TV spot."
Fischer also said that State Farm could not have driven awareness of its Discount Double Check policy — in which State Farm reviews a customer's auto policy to ensure they are getting the best discount — on its own and needed it to be viral and organic.
"When you see Steve Novak of the New York Knicks do the Discount Double Check move after hitting a three-point shot, or sportscasters and announcers using the term during games, it shows us that it has taken on a life of its own," Fischer said of the Rodgers' ads during the IMG Sports Symposium (under the auspices of Sports Business Journal) in New York on Oct. 5.
The new spot, "State of Detention (Career Day)," opens with Rodgers standing in a classroom alongside a police officer, a firefighter, a doctor, a State Farm agent and other professionals.
"Up next for Career Day, quarterback Aaron Rodgers," says the teacher.
As the kids applaud, one girl inquires of Rodgers, "That State Farm agent says she helps people. What do you do?"
"I play football," he smiles. "That's not a job," another girl replies, sacking Rodgers' smile into a frown.
"Did you save my dad hundreds with the Discount Double Check?" a boy asks as he does a mini-version of the move. "No," responds Rodgers, "but I was MVP last year."
Another girl takes Rodgers down a few more notches. "Mr. Hubble says that trophies are for people with low self-esteem issues." "Who is Mr. Hubble?!" asks Rodgers. The kids point to a dad near Rodgers. As Rodgers gives him a mean stare, the guy pulls off his name tag. "That's Ron Hubble," he says, pointing to the class teacher. "No it's not," the accused teacher responds.
The closing shot sees a kid wearing a cheese head banging on a window. "Hey, Rodgers," he shouts in a raspy voice imitating the older Packers' fan from earlier commercials. "Discount Double Check."
A voiceover then offers, "For savings, we're best in class."
Fischer said he is still amazed at how Rodgers has helped drive awareness of what had been a rather dry and routine company policy. “You now have instantaneous feedback with customers," Fischer said. "Public perception was clamoring for more, more brand messaging, more understanding of what Discount Double Check was."
State Farm has been associated with MLB's Home Run Derby since 2007 and also is driving its Double Discount Check message through a spot starring Kerry Woods and Andre Dawson, both former stars for the Chicago Cubs. State Farm's lead agency is DDB, Chicago.
Rodgers is also on the airwaves in ads for Pizza Hut and has deals that include Nike and Wisconsin-based firms such as Prevea Health, Associated Bank, Gruber Law Offices and local Ford truck dealers.
Regarding the minimal use of the Discount Double Check move in the new spot, which evolved from Rodgers imitation of putting on a championship belt after his team scored a touchdown, Fischer explained, "People know what it is. Even Rodgers doesn't use it during games anymore."
And regarding the recent game that ended in controversy when the Packers lost to the Seattle Seahawks on a Hail Mary play called by the then replacement refs, Fischer said, "We saw no immediate impact from that. It was a blip on the radar screen. We have seen a lot worse when it comes to the behavior of athletes across the league."
But he did admit, "There will always be an association between Rodgers and that play, just as there will always be an association between Rodgers and State Farm's Discount Double Check."
Double Check Double Play: State Farm Uses MLB, NFL To Drive Consumer Awareness