financial services

Farmers Taps PGA Pro Rickie Fowler For Video Series

Farmers Insurance Group has made humor a tenet of its advertising since it started running its "University of Farmers" campaign in 2010. Right now, the company is running ads in which the university's "Professor Nathaniel Burke" character walks consumers around their homes as insurance nightmares unfold one after the other.

In its latest outlandish effort, via AOR LA-based RPA, the company has tapped PGA Tour player Rickie Fowler to star in a Quinn Martin-esque video series in which Fowler plays a private eye who roams golf courses with his caddy Luis, putting the vice on golfers who cheat, make etiquette errors and commit general faux pas. 

The conceit of the series, which currently has four episodes, is that playing smart on the golf course is like being smart with your insurance, or vice versa. One episode has Fowler driving up to a tee-off in his golf cart, squad-car bubble gum machine flashing. He confronts a guy talking loudly on his cell phone while others are trying to play, takes the phone, gives it to his caddy who puts it on a peg. Fowler takes a driver to it, hammering a drive that puts the phone in the cup. "It looks like…that call has been dropped."  



"Over the last couple of years we have been trying to be innovative with brand and messaging and trying to find creative ways to use normal sponsorships, especially with Rickie," says Chuck Browning, who leads up Farmers' sponsorships and corporate giving for the Los Angeles-based insurer. "He's willing to be risky and outside the norm." Browning tells Marketing Daily that the insurer started working with Fowler a few years ago and this year made him Farmers' ambassador in a two-year relationship, brokered by Farmers' talent intermediary LA-based talent firm CAA.

While Farmers does traditional advertising, the work with Fowler is grassroots and digital, per Browning who says the 24-year-old is a natural for buzz. "He has over 100,000 fans [on social platforms] and he's the kind of player who's also known by a lot of non-players, and casual players, and he's playful [on camera]." He points out that Fowler is also unusual because of his off-course interests, including motocross.  

The new videos, which launched on Wednesday are on Farmers' YouTube channel, Facebook page, and will also be supported with promoted tweets and a Twitter handle, (@DickFowlerPI) around Fowler's persona that also will be a source for golf and insurance tips.

Fowler has also been paired with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne, with whom Farmers has a relationship that includes Kahne doing his own series of humorous online videos, and Farmers getting title and signage on the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Group/Quaker State Chevy SS. Fowler and Kahne did a "Drive and Drive" one-off where each taught the other his respective professional skill. Farmers also produced online content for last year's "Farmers Insurance Presents Rascal Flatts Changed" tour.

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