SBJ/June 27 - July 3, 2011/In Depth

State Farm goes to bat

Last summer, State Farm took a swing at a new promotion as part of its Major League Baseball sponsorship by letting fans go to bat for charity.

STATE FARM

Brand: State Farm

Property:
Major League   Baseball

Agency:
The Marketing Arm

The goal:
Create a cause-related campaign connecting State Farm’s sponsorship of Major League Baseball with the favored charities of customers and baseball fans.

Why it worked:
The 10-week program generated 1.6 million entries from 120,000 people, and those entries produced 10 weekly winners, whose preferred charities received a combined $209,800 from State Farm. Each weekly winner and a guest received a trip to Games 3 and 4 of the World Series.
The insurance company became a baseball sponsor in 2007, aligning with the Home Run Derby contest at the annual All-Star Game, and wanted to enhance the relationship by adding another charity element.

State Farm hit upon a theme tied to its existing Home Run Derby donation to Boys & Girls Clubs. Each batter in the derby wins donations from the company on behalf of MLB, with varying amounts awarded for each home run depending on the ball used for each pitch. In 2010, the derby generated $573,000 in donations from State Farm for Boys & Girls Clubs.

Unlike the previous years, the derby donation last summer marked the beginning of a charity drive during the second half of the season. Fans could “Go To Bat” on a dedicated website and register for a preferred charity. Then, every week, State Farm selected a random winner and gave a donation to that person’s chosen charity. The amount was determined by the total number of home runs hit in the big leagues during the week, with each homer worth $100.

Charities such as the American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, National Fallen Firefighters and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital received a combined $209,800 from State Farm.

Todd Fischer, State Farm manager of national sponsorships, said the simple notion of “Go To Bat” worked not just for connecting baseball and the philanthropic push, but also reinforced the notion of State Farm agents working for their policy holders on a daily basis.

“This was a great way for us to articulate that and allow consumers to have the power and control to take action on behalf of State Farm,” Fischer said.

The campaign gave State Farm the chance to emphasize its role as a company to be relied on, said Erin Wasson, account director at The Marketing Arm, which worked with State Farm on the campaign. That angle received a boost from a related, monthly Good Neighbor Award run by 24 State Farm-sponsored MLB clubs and honoring community work by groups and individuals.

The campaign also helped the company mine for prospects. Of the 120,000 people who submitted a combined 1.6 million entries, State Farm agents reaped 19,000 sales leads.

— Erik Spanberg, correspondent
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