Advertisements are very much a part of our culture, part of the deal of capitalism’s free market. I’m not here to complain there are too many nor am I upset at the growing number of places they are invading. In fact I am intrigued by advertising and enjoy the concept and notion of it. But I am in the minority, and that’s not what I want to talk about right now. Even though I like advertising, as with anything, there are definitely commercials I absolutely despise. I’m here to talk about one of those: State Farm’s “State of Unrest.”
You might know it better as “Jake, from State Farm.” Or more specifically, the one where the dude is on the phone with Jake, from State Farm, at three in the morning when the dude’s wife comes downstairs and starts yelling at him for having a phone affair with a girl despite his constant reassurance that it’s Jake, from State Farm.
The one redeeming factor to this commercial, which Jon pointed out, is that when Jake, from State Farm, says the word khakis, he sounds like Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. Try to un-hear it now.
Now I’m not a marriage counselor, nor have I ever been in a marriage, and I am not currently in a relationship, but I know enough that communication is a crucial element to making such a thing work. And that’s not just talking to each other, but actually listening. So when this woman comes down the stairs and asks who her husband is talking to but then doesn’t believe his answers tells me there are massive problems here. Honestly, I don’t care. Their shitting marriage is none of my business. But what I don’t like is we are given no reason to not believe this man, yet we are expected to accept that this woman does not. That just doesn’t work for me and I dis-like the woman immediately for not trusting her husband.
Now if he has cheated in the past I would feel different. But we have no way of know if that is true. Based on his demeanor and blunt truthfulness, I would say it is safe to believe he wasn’t trying to hide who he was talking to.
Most of my issues with this commercial arise from the wife being such an uncaring harpy. If someone I cared about (or supposedly cared about) was on the phone at 3 a.m. I would be concerned something happened to a family member. Generally, those are the calls that happen at shitty hours. That’s what forced Bob to turn to his brother Buck. So maybe make sure that everything is ok before making accusations of adultery is all I’m saying.
If all family and friends are ok, the next question might be what is bothering your husband so much that he feels the need to call an insurance company at such an hour? Think about the times you have called an insurance company. One is when you need insurance, another is when you need to make a claim, and maybe again if you had some question about your coverage. If you’re calling the insurance company about any of these things at three in the morning, then there is something wrong weighing on your mind.
Or maybe he’s looking into the life insurance coverage on his wife should an unforeseen “accident” arise.
I know these are just characters, but part of my interest in advertising comes from thinking about those who create the ad. Mainly, what makes them think the final product was their best choice? I understand the basics of multiple people having input and the cost factor playing key roles. But how does something like this come up in idea process? I just imagine it like this Far Side comic with writers trying to write an episode of “Bewitched.” One guy chimes in with, “Hey! How’s this? Endora puts some kind of curse on Darren, and no one can figure out what the heck is happening until Samantha catches on!”
“Here’s something that has worked, let’s keep doing that and forget the changing times and fuck you, buy our shit.” – Most advertising people, probably.
My final summation is I hate this commercial because it’s lazy, hackey, and out of touch. Commercials have a small window to tell a story, and this one chose to use the time to tell an awful story we have heard too often. This commercial should never have been made. The basic concept should have been eaten with some fava beans and a nice chianti.