Ads Watch: State Farm – State of Discovery (Ivy)

12 Oct


I’ve already talked about a great Discount Double Check commercial, a terrible attempt to replicate that commercial, and now I’m here to talk about a different, but again successful, Discount Double Check ad.

This ad returns to sports (baseball instead of football), but this time it’s a nice, concise, gets to the point one primary joke ad, but the joke is a good one.  It doesn’t have all the minute bizarre pleasures that makes the original Aaron Rodgers discount double check a hit, but what it does have is a well-constructed, well-executed joke, and in a 30 second commercial, that’s worth its weight, in, well, Super Bowl TV dollars.

Wrigley Field is the setting.  An insurance agent  (State Farm?  What insurance company is this again? – it is State Farm, but maybe it’s telling that I don’t remember before seeing it again) explains to Kerry Wood, as they walk near the warning track, from right field to left field, that State Farm does a discount double check to ensure that every person pays the lowest amount for their insurance, using the now famous Aaron Rodgers touchdown belt gesture.

Now things start to get good.  Wood explains that before each game, he did a similar ivy double check and begins to demonstrate, remarking how stuff tends to get caught up in the ivy.  The commercial is set up now for a classic rule of three gag – Wood’ll pull out two items that are progressively more strange, but ultimately leading to the third which will be the keeper; it will have to be the funniest and/or most bizarre for the joke to work.

Here’s the first of two places that make this commercial.  The first item Wood pulls from the ivy is already pretty funny, an outdated large cell phone, setting up the idea that things have been lost in the ivy for years and years.  The second item is a French horn, with no importance to the future of the joke, but just a solidly comically random item.  Third, then, Wood takes an extra second or two reaching into the ivy, as if he’s grabbing something particularly large or heavy, like a fisherman with a big one on the line.  The item, it turns out, is, as Kerry Wood says, quizzically, Andre Dawson.

Here’s the second important junction that makes this a fantastic commercial.  This is the combination of the physical comedy of Andre Dawson emerging completely horizontally from the ivy, as if the ivy goes back for yards and yards, as well the Hawk’s impeccably timed and intonated, “What year is it?”  Having Wood find Andre Dawson is already pretty brilliant, and just a funny idea.  But Dawson at least doubles the brilliance with his, “what year is it,” specifically bringing to mind the hilarious idea that he’s been trapped in the ivy for decades, aided by the squinty look he gives which makes it seem as if his eyes have not been exposed to light for some time.

The commercial then takes the perfect quick beat before going to the red screen on which State Farm explains their discount double check and I stop paying attention to the commercial.

Kudos, State Farm, for taking a brilliant commercial, ruining it with a terrible uncreative take two on that commercial by trying to replicate its brilliance, and then taking the same campaign in a new direction and having another success.

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3 Responses to “Ads Watch: State Farm – State of Discovery (Ivy)”

  1. Beardface October 14, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    Andre Dawson belongs in the Television Ad Hall of Fame more than he belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    • waldinho October 15, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      This is a conversation for another place and time but I think Dawson’s case is less cut-and-dry than you’re making it out to be. The OBP looks bad but it was essentially league average; average on-base skills coupled with Dawson’s power and speed made him a very valuable hitter. Add in the fact that he was probably the best defensive centrefielder in the game while he played and you’re looking at a borderline hall candidate. If he hadn’t played half his games on artificial turf, I think he’d be a pretty strong candidate, in fact.

      Also: hi, Beardface!

  2. Beardface October 16, 2012 at 1:23 am #

    I’d vote for Montreal Dawson but not Chicago Dawson, despite his 87 MVP season.

    Also, I’ve been meaning to call you for ages, but I’m terrible at that shit, it will happen sooner rather than later though. And happy belated birthday! I listened to some Ox, Jackson and John that day of course.

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