Farmers Insurance's Professor Burke brings a familiar voice to COVID-19 crisis

One day, the coronavirus will be another bad incident in the Hall of Claims, he assures in new spot.

Farmers Insurance’s new commercial by RPA Los Angeles addresses COVID-19 on three different levels. It is emotionally supportive of nervous consumers, specifically informative about new insurance programs and self-deprecatingly light about the crazy road we have all been on.

The spot references the pratfalls and pitfalls that are a hallmark of Farmers’ "Hall of Claims" campaign, lifting a clip from a 2017 spot in which a billy goat head-butts a car. "In 90 years, we thought we’d seen it all," begins the spot, helmed by actor J.K. Simmons, who plays Professor Burke, an expert in the annals of insurance claims.

Hearing his familiar voice, a pitchman from ordinary times, conveys some comfort. The "Seeing It Through" spot quickly follows up the reference to past ads by stating, "but we haven’t seen this." A scene of a man in a face mask sums up the virus that is destroying lives, health and economies. 

"For this spot, J.K. Simmons was gracious enough to do a remote session with us, recording on his computer while the agency and a sound engineer were on a Zoom session with him," said Perrin Anderson, vice president, creative director at RPA. "He sent his session through to LIME Studios, where we did a final mix via email."  

The spot highlights what Farmers is actually doing about it, such as a reduction in auto premiums as people are not driving as much, extending payment due dates to help the financially stressed, and expanding coverage for delivery drivers "who are carrying us through."

The spot opens and closes with Burke and a companion briskly walking through the Hall of Claims, the campaign’s motif of a museum of insurance artifacts, reinforcing the seasoned perspective that this, too, shall pass.

"The Farmers brand and campaign is about experience and having seen a thing or two," said Jenny Howell, head of brand and consumer strategy at Farmers Insurance. "We wanted to bring our 90 years of perspective to it, but also acknowledge that this is a truly unprecedented crisis that Farmers is responding to in unprecedented ways."

 The spot will run during network primetime, late-night, news and sports as well as on cable, syndication, digital video and social. 


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