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From the 14th Annual Shorty Awards

#TeamStateFarm Takes on Super Bowl LV

Entered in Sports


Heading into Super Bowl LV, State Farm was poised to enter its largest advertising arena yet with the release of its first-ever in-game Super Bowl commercial as a non-official NFL sponsor.   

While navigating a notoriously crowded media landscape and sensitivities around the ongoing pandemic, Zeno was challenged to connect the brand’s #TeamStateFarm creative campaign with a younger millennial audience throughout the postseason and during the Super Bowl itself with the ad's live in-game debut – all while keeping the spot’s top-secret talent under wraps until its premiere.  

Our idea was clear: to fuel fandom throughout the postseason through a multi-faceted communications strategy featuring a star-studded State Farm roster – Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, the iconic khaki-wearing Jake from State Farm and surprise appearances from Kansas City superfan Paul Rudd and the Champagne Papi himself – Drake. The social-first approach naturally inserted State Farm into fan conversation during the playoffs via influencer partnerships and real-time social engagements. The social buzz served a down-the-field pass for an earned media push that drove two pulses of coverage around the brand's debut Super Bowl spot, including the commercial teaser release and live in-game debut of the full ad.

Strategy and Execution

Today, Super Bowl advertising inherently comes with publicity – even with a star-studded cast, but it takes a unique strategy and approach to breakthrough and create a groundswell of memorable buzz. State Farm set out to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime brand milestone and connect its #TeamStateFarm campaign to a younger audience in ways no other brand could. This required laying the groundwork during the postseason to culminate at the Super Bowl – maintaining the element of surprise through embargoed outreach to major outlets, offering interviews with State Farm executives and a sneak peek of the teaser and full spot to control the messaging and keep the spot’s top-secret talent under wraps.   

Over the last decade, State Farm has become synonymous with football thanks to consistent advertising in the space and partnerships with two of the NFL’s biggest stars: Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. State Farm was in a unique position to bring fans breakthrough entertainment; in addition to the company’s A-list superstar moment, State Farm brought something to the table other brands couldn’t – the #TeamStateFarm fan phenomenon.   

During the 2019-20 NFL season, Rodgers and Mahomes battled it out on the field and thousands of fans took to social media to eagerly discuss the possibility of a #StateFarmBowl (Super Bowl LIV) matchup. While that wasn’t in the cards, this social media phenomenon gave rise to the 2020-21 NFL postseason #TeamStateFarm campaign, the perfect handoff to set State Farm up for a Super Bowl campaign touchdown.   

The team would take the field at the start of the playoffs with a multifaceted social approach leveraging existing #TeamStateFarm conversation, new social creative, paid influencers and real-time social engagement. This authentically inserted State Farm into the football conversation and primed for the debut of its Super Bowl spot.   

Once the tone was set on social, a phased earned media approach would ensure all eyes were on State Farm. Rather than getting lost in the shuffle of Super Bowl ad news that begins weeks beforehand, the strategy was to release a teaser spot closer to game day itself – teasing a surprise celebrity addition to #TeamStateFarm. This would (and did) give State Farm its own moment to shine and generated talk value of who it could be with consumers and media in the hours leading up to the game.     

Equally important to the strategy was scenario planning. With the brand’s leading QBs Rodgers and Mahomes as key talent in the Super Bowl spot, and no guarantee that either would make it to the championship, the team needed a strategic playbook for every contingency.   

After following the #TeamStateFarm conversation, State Farm knew it would be essential to meet consumers where they were – the largest sporting event of the year. With fans already buzzing, there was a key opportunity to engage with the millennial audience in an authentic and engaging way while increasing brand awareness and conversation surrounding State Farm. This year, State Farm wasted no time bringing fans more of what they want, all while planning a star-studded surprise.   


The #TeamStateFarm campaign and "Drake from State Farm" spot landed in the end zone with consumers and media alike. The program rocked the scoreboard, exceeded KPIs, generated high-quality earned media coverage and broke records for a first-time Super Bowl advertiser. The Drake from State Farm spot was a Hall of Fame-worthy performance – ranking No. 8 most popular ad with consumers on USA Today’s annual Ad Meter top 10 ranking and was one of only two :30 spots, a record for a first-time advertiser. The ad was a touchdown for State Farm, earning the most commercial-focused media coverage on Super Bowl Sunday with 497 earned media placements and 1.9B impressions. The team’s influencer program exceeded campaign goals, garnering 2.15MM impressions, 37K in-feed engagements and a 2.08% average engagement rate. On Super Bowl Sunday, the State Farm virtual war room developed 44 real-time brand-to-brand Twitter responses which resulted in 780+ total organic engagements.


Video for #TeamStateFarm Takes on Super Bowl LV

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Zeno Group, State Farm