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Inside the OK Go / State Farm Deal

Posted by: Helen Walters on March 03, 2010

What do trendy musicians OK Go have in common with insurance mega-giant State Farm? Turns out, more than “not much”. But this is more than just another version of the “corporate brand meets hipsters, falls in love” story we know so well. Rather, this highlights how proactive creative types are looking beyond traditional parameters to get support for their work. And brands are biting. In this case, State Farm paid to have a place at the creative development table as the video for the song This Too Shall Pass was storyboarded. The result: a walk-on part in the delightfully chaotic promo, embedded below—note the State Farm van that literally kicks things off and the State Farm teddybear, seen fleetingly. The insurer gets a shout out screen at the end of the video: “OK Go Thanks State Farm for making this video possible”. And State Farm paid an undisclosed sum to ensure that fans can embed the YouTube video of the song on their own sites.

This is a bigger deal than you might imagine, one that points to the ongoing turmoil within the music industry. As it happens, label EMI disabled the embed function on OK Go’s breakout video hit, Here It Goes Again, which involved the musicians cavorting on treadmills and which has been viewed some fifty million times on YouTube. As the band’s lead singer Damian Kulash outlined in a February 19th New York Times op ed piece this decision was disastrous.

This isn’t how the Internet works. Viral content doesn’t spread just from primary sources like YouTube or Flickr. Blogs, Web sites and video aggregators serve as cultural curators, daily collecting the items that will interest their audiences the most. By ignoring the power of these tastemakers, our record company is cutting off its nose to spite its face.

Todd Fischer, manager of national sponsorships at the Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm, was keen to assert that EMI had been “at the table” throughout the negotiation process on this latest video, which started back in fall of last year. But clearly he’s also more than happy that State Farm gets to play the part of forward-thinking innovator, working to supply fans with what they really want and need (the ability to take the video and include it on their own sites). In supporting a band that epitomizes the DIY, can-do, I’ll-take-it-and-I’ll-mash-it attitude of contemporary culture, the insurer taps into a young audience in a cool, appropriate way. The band, meanwhile, gets to make another fantastic video, harness buzz and win over new fans: the film had nearly 1.4 million views in less than 48 hours.

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Reader Comments


March 4, 2010 03:05 PM

The manager for OK Go needs to do some research before creating connections between them and certain corporations. Check for information on "bad faith insurance" and "worst insurance companies" including these two reports:


March 4, 2010 04:44 PM


Sarah Gavigan

March 5, 2010 10:20 AM

I think this is genius move on behalf of the band.

Look past the brand itself (that is a large consideration for bands when licensing and choosing the right sponsor), but the mechanism of this sponsorship.

EMI, the band's label shut off OK GO's greatest broadcasting asset, the viral capability of it's video.

So OK GO found a way around it. Sponsorship of the video - which sets it free.

Say what you will about the brand, but this is an excellent example of a hard working band doing what they need to do to see their music propagate and fed their families.

I applaud the people who put this deal together, and I applaud the band for making such a brave move in such uncertain times.

Top it off with a FANTASTIC video - well done. CLAP CLAP.

Los Felinos de La Noche

March 7, 2010 08:55 AM

This is not the first time State Farm has been "behind" a music band. Google "Los felinos de la noche" and find out about how they could really relate an insurance company with a mexican regional band on a solid, longer "relationship" (2 years) called advertainment. I believe this OK GO - State Farm video is a clever idea, but is just another product placement case. I love the video though :)


March 8, 2010 10:58 AM

Against Bad Faith Insurance- Your linked articles go to the trial lawyer's sites. No wonder State Farm is in their top ten list. You are constantly trying to sue them and their policyholders. Looks like these articles are nothing more than propaganda.

denise lee yohn

March 9, 2010 05:02 PM

this is a great move for state farm -- they've taken product placement and sponsorship to a new level, integrating the two in a way that provides a hip, innovative context for the brand to be seen in and an emerging movement to be at the forefront of

Double Eagle Dave

March 10, 2010 10:34 PM

Hey AgainstBadFaithInsurance, the Ten Worst Insurance Companies is sponsored by the Trial Lawyers of America. Wonder if they have anything go gain by soaking insurance companies? Hmmm... They include people like Missippi's Dickie Skruggs (Is he out of jail for bribery yet????) Yea, a real reputible group those trial lawyers!!!


March 11, 2010 10:56 AM

band just wangled their way out of their EMI deal.

Their manager is also a Well Respected exotic automobile critic/reviewer.

very smart manager dude.


March 31, 2010 10:51 AM

Clever move State Farm...this seems like a great way to increase exposure and to make State Farm a household name. It kind of reminds me of that commercial..everyone has seen those commercials of the guys singing the name everywhere...I don't see why the same couldn't work for State Farm with this method.

Seo Company

April 18, 2010 04:46 AM

I agree that it is a bigger deal than we might imagine, one that points to the ongoing turmoil within the music industry.


April 19, 2010 05:11 AM

I agree with your above statements

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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