The Coneheads have yet to return to “France,” and Jake from State Farm is still wearing khakis.
We know both of these things to be true now that we’ve seen the latest pop-culture mashup—“Jake: Coneheads,” a new State Farm commercial that was teased with #TuneInEarthlings promos in recent days before it was “leaked” during an “Ask Jake Anything” Twitter session on May 11.
Actually, the commercial is a remake of the insurance company’s 2011 “State of Unrest” spot in which a wife catches her husband on a late-night phone call not with some woman she wrongly assumes he is having an affair with, but with Jake from State Farm. This time around, the man and woman have been replaced with Beldar and Prymaat, the alien Coneheads couple Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin first played on Saturday Night Live back in the late 1970s, then revisited in the 1993 movie Coneheads. “One of the really gratifying things about working on this is that these actors hadn’t done these characters in more than 20 years, and they were thrilled. They were just so happy to have the opportunity to go back and reprise these roles,” DDB Chicago chief creative officer John Maxham says.
Directed by Hungry Man’s Hank Perlman, the new commercial marks the third time in less than two years that DDB Chicago, on behalf of State Farm, has tapped SNL’s stable of iconic characters via a co-creation relationship with Broadway Video Entertainment, the entertainment and media company founded by SNL creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels. Bill Swerski’s Superfans and weightlifters Hans and Franz have been featured in previous spots promoting the insurance company’s Discount Double Check program.
It’s a collaboration that has raised State Farm’s pop culture profile and driven interest in the insurance company’s products, according to Patty Morris, marketing director, brand content, for State Farm. “The Hans and Franz work we did over the last NFL season was some of our most successful work to date,” she says. “It generated over 8 million views on YouTube, and over the 2014-2015 season, we saw a 27% increase in purchase intent among NFL fans.”
While the Superfans and Hans and Franz campaigns were targeted specifically at sports fans, the new Coneheads spot will reach for a wider audience, airing on networks including CW and Fox during their primetime entertainment lineups. A second spot featuring the Coneheads is slated to debut this summer.
There is a digital component to the campaign, too. Via 15-second pre-roll ads that will appear on YouTube when users search for video related to popular keywords such as cats, yoga, and movies, the Coneheads will be seen “double-checking” searches. Morris sees it as a means to intercept YouTube activity in a way “that’s not disruptive but adds to the experience.”
Additional Coneheads-related content will roll out via social media channels—Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram—throughout the summer and fall.
Meanwhile, Jake from State Farm, now a pop culture sensation with more than 34,000 Twitter followers, has become a meaningful asset for the brand despite the fact that the character, played by actor Jake Stone, was only seen in one spot before this new Coneheads commercial. “His fans really embraced him as a character they were expecting to see more of,” Maxham says. “So we used this ad as an opportunity to deliver a sequel.”