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State Farm pivots to TikTok for Super Bowl Sunday

Jake from State Farm
The "Jake from State Farm" spokesperson posted a video on his TikTok page encouraging users to "duet" the video displaying a talent. (Duetting a TikTok video means making a new video that is attached to one made previously, Jake from State Farm’s in this case.)

You won't find State Farm among the companies with television commercials during the Super Bowl this year. The Bloomington-based insurance giant is instead turning to the popular video app TikTok to reach people.

State Farm’s strategy goes like this: The famous "Jake from State Farm" spokesperson posted a video on his TikTok page encouraging users to "duet" the video displaying a talent. (Duetting a TikTok video means making a new video that is attached to one made previously, Jake from State Farm’s in this case.) Jake then pins three finalist videos to the top of his TikTok page. The winner is decided by the highest amount of likes and is announced on Super Bowl Sunday.

“I’m not on the inside of State Farm, but my hunch is that they looked at this big spend and said, ‘Where can we get just as much awareness for not nearly the investment?’” theorized Dr. Hulda Black of Illinois State University.

Black is a professor of marketing, and her hunch may be right.

A company is likely to pay around $6 million for a 30-second advertisement during the Super Bowl. That number was probably higher last year for State Farm, whose commercial featured cameos from musician Drake and actor Paul Rudd. The investment is not without merit; almost 100 million people watched the Super Bowl last year; $6 million for 100 million pairs of eyes seems like a fair deal, except when compared to TikTok.

According to Statista, 78 million Americans use TikTok. And advertising there is a fraction of the cost.

But much of TikTok's audience is Gen Z. So why advertise insurance to them?

“They’re going where the money is. Baby Boomers are spending less, whereas Gen Z and Millennials are spending more. I think State Farm is trying to look where their market is,” said Black, adding she thinks advertising will continue to move away from television, but sports will continue to be valuable.

“Every cable television company has a mobile app that you can pay another subscription for. Advertising dollars in traditional television advertising has gone down, except for live sports because that is where you can capture people," Black said.

Globally, one billion people use TikTok. It already features advertisements, but Black says consumers will not stand for being bombarded with advertisements.

“They do not want their feeds overtaken. I feel like a lot of people have left Facebook because they were inundated with stuff they do not want to see. Social media is the same as a business, and they will have to figure out what their target market wants.”

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Jack Graue is a student reporter at WGLT. He joined WGLT in summer 2021. He is also a student in the School of Communication at Illinois State University.
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