Andys 2012: DDB’s State Farm “Thanks” 9-11 Commercial Uses New Yorkers to Inspire

State Farm New York ad

I’m taking a break from the Cannes for a minute and taking a look at this Bronze Web Film award winner from the Andys, State Farm’s “Thanks” commercial by DDB Chicago. Like many feel-good commercials whose premise is a (very) loosely related to the product, “Thanks” uses local New York elements to create a sense of community strong enough to bring home an award.

What separates this minute long clip from others is how DDB approached touching America, and in specific, New York City. After watching a behind-the-scenes video, I learned the production team coordinated a choir of New York children to sing NYC born and raised Jay-Z’s “New York.” Combined with clips of locals riding bikes and carrying on with their everyday lives and a local fire department, it helps the viewer feel the pride New York has in its city.  Plus, I’m sure New Yorkers could connect with those elements even better and appreciated those local elements even more than an outsider.

Americans have a strong industrial drive to achieve success, especially in New York. I visited the city on a networking trip in college and two different people told me “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” The song’s lyrics embody that push for more amidst the bright lights. I think the choir gives the song a dreamy feel, and the fact that it’s a choir of kids turns your focus towards the future of New York. The kids and the people walking the streets are why firefighters and police officers risked their lives. By emphasizing the kids, we look forward to the future. When the tragic events happened with some time passing, I think admiring how far New York has come and emphasizing where it’s going is an inspiring take.

At first, the commercial irked me because it felt like it doesn’t really have anything to do with insurance. But State Farm showing they care about 9/11’s recovery is a representation of people in their service industry. Insurance salesmen typically care about more than a client’s financial needs. They care about their client’s hopes and dreams and what’s going on in their current lives to get the client to those dreams. Similarly, a company’s brand identity should endorse that same behavior as State Farm does by showing their concern on a national level.

Not every brand should make thank you statements, but I hope for those where it is appropriate, that they choose to do so. State Farm shouldn’t have to say thank you on the awards podium. We should.

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