State Farm’s Sponsored Roadside Assistance Provides Lift to Motorists and Brand

By Kristen Pelachyk Sep 16, 2013

State Farm’s Sponsored Roadside Assistance Provides Lift to Motorists and Brand

It’s no surprise when brands use sponsorship to connect to fans at their passion points or to tap into their emotional attachment to a team, property or event.

So what happens when a brand uses sponsorship to capitalize on consumers’ anxiety or stress? Is the impact of the sponsorship amplified when a brand comes through in a crisis?

Consider State Farm’s newest engagement: Sponsoring tow trucks on the Illinois Tollway.

State Farm recently signed a three-year, $1.8-million deal to become the state’s “official sponsor of roadside assistance.” The logo for the Illinois-based insurer will be placed on all Highway Emergency Lane Patrol (HELP) tow trucks, in addition to driver uniforms and roadside assistance highway signage.

State Farm has similar deals with safety patrols in eight other states.

If you’re anything like me, you immediately panic when you have car problems. What better time for a trusted provider to tap into our emotional vulnerability and save the day? And what better opportunity for a brand like State Farm?

For years, State Farm’s positioning has been squarely focused on helping consumers get back on their feet. Proof is in their longstanding tagline: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” The insurer’s brand is tied to warmth, trust and compassion.

Historically, this positioning has served State Farm’s business well. In 2013, the company has once again captured the largest share of the insurance marketplace, ahead of Allstate and GEICO.

It’s no surprise then that sponsorship of the state-owned tow trucks would be seen as a natural extension of State Farm’s brand. It’s a perfect fit between the parties. The ability to “help” – a key branding element of State Farm – is imbedded in the fleet’s name.

What’s even more interesting is that State Farm has reached out to drivers in a particularly candid and authentic moment. By helping motorists at a car wreck or breakdown, State Farm is hoping to make an emotional connection with drivers (in an unemotional vertical) and gain meaningful exposure among its targeted audience.

Contrast this to other marketing strategies in the insurance space. Admittedly, all of the leaders invest in traditional sponsorship. In addition, GEICO has built awareness through its quirky, character-driven campaigns and Allstate has repositioned itself in a more dynamic way to prevent “mayhem.” Almost all are active in social and digital media as an extension of their core creative. None, however, surprise or delight audiences to the degree they once did.  

By sponsoring Illinois’ HELP trucks, State Farm may have created a fresh and unexpected way to dialogue directly with motorists. According to analysis by SNL Insurance, State Farm reduced its ad spend by 4.4 percent in 2012, possibly reallocating its marketing budget to other vehicles like sponsorship. 

The true test, however, lies in the performance and impact of State Farm’s HELP sponsorship. Consumer-facing research would help State Farm decide if it wants to extend this program into other states or if it’s beneficial for other insurers to replicate this tactic.

Beyond State Farm’s roadside assistance trucks, it’s interesting to think of other emotionally charged situations that sponsorship could capitalize on. Moving, job change, and even the first day of school all provide opportunity, if activated in the right way.

What are some other ways a sponsor can add value or eliminate stress with consumers, and ultimately elevate their brand?


sponsorship strategy


About the Author

Kristen is senior director, research and analytics for IEG’s Consulting group. She has designed custom measurement programs in the marketing and communications space for some of the world’s leading brands. Her work spans multiple verticals, including retail, technology, financial and CPG, and includes expertise in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Learn about IEG’s measurement services.


Please login to post a comment.

Katherine Williams 11/17/2015 5:34 AM
Providing lifts at roadside to needed ones is emerging to be a great social work. So, thanks for having such a concern for the customers .
<a href="”>Roadside assistance</a>
Kristen Pelachyk 6/2/2014 8:30 AM
Catherine, You're welcome - Thanks for your comment. Good luck in your strategy.
catherine wright 5/30/2014 6:41 AM
I really appreciates your work towards Road side Assistance, Actually , We are looking something like that.I am living in London,UK and here we want service like yours <a href="">car recovery london</a> and <a href="">tow truck london</a> for betterment

Thanks for sharing this with us
George Perry 9/17/2013 4:24 PM
We're targeting the relocation, residential and job search industries to reach some of the 1000 new residents moving to Austin each month, but we hadn't considered the emotional stress of moving as a possible angle. Thanks!


Sponsorship Report

A Must Read for Anyone in the Sponsorship Industry. More info