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State Farm details plans as Apple iAd launch advertiser

State Farm, an Apple iAd launch advertiser, detailed its advertising plans for the new mobile ad network in an exclusive interview with Mobile Marketer.

The car insurance company was one among eighteen advertisers mentioned when the iPhone 4 launched June 7 in San Francisco. Nissan, Citibank, Unilever, AT&T, Chanel, General Electric, Liberty Mutual, Geico, Campbell?s Soup, Sears, JCPenney, Best Buy, Target, DirecTV, TBS, Liberty Mutual Group and Walt Disney Studios are the other advertisers.

Apparently, Apple?s CEO Steve Jobs confirmed that the iAd mobile ad network had commitments for 2010 totaling more than $60 million. One or more of the brands ? which one not disclosed ? had to pony up at least $10 million to be the one of the initial iAd advertisers (see story).

Senior editor Giselle Tsirulnik interviewed Tim Van Hoof, director of marketing communications at State Farm. Here is the interview in its entirety:

Can State Farm provide details on the iAd campaign? The creative, what it promotes and such?
We are working with Apple and our young adult marketing partner, Translation Marketing, on fully leveraging this opportunity.

Creative will launch later this year. 

That said, we envision our iAds supporting a wide range of our marketing and business initiatives ? including priority initiatives like teen driver safety with our Steer Clear iPhone application.

The media is unique and personal to the user and the key to stand out creatively is to connect with consumers in a meaningful, relevant way, whether it is in entertainment or utility applications, to build a deeper connection with our brand.

Why be one of the first?
A core element of State Farm?s marketing strategy is meeting consumers where they are, with the most relevant message possible. 

IAd is one technology that will allow us to laser target our marketing message and ensure relevant messages reach very narrow audiences. 

Being an early adopter is also a means for an established brand like State Farm to showcase our ability to grow and adapt with our consumers.

As their needs and lifestyles change to become more mobile and more in touch, so do our ways of interacting and reaching out to them.

Finally, we can also be one of the first to learn. Learn what works, and how to refine and leverage the opportunity to gain effectiveness.

What do you hope to achieve through iAd?
IAd gives us the ability to understand one person?s frame of mind and for us to showcase a program or sponsorship that is most relevant to their mindset at that moment.  It allows us to further our shift from marketing to a demographic to marketing to a mindset.

To underscore the brand?s relevance with key audiences, State Farm leverages a wide range of technologies and talent.  This ?talent incubator? strategy allows State Farm to engage with consumers where they are in a targeted, relevant and entertaining way. 

The iAd platform fits well into that.  Specifically, we believe iAd will give us an interesting opportunity to empower application developers and support them as they develop the next generation of tools.

How big of a role does mobile play in State Farm?s overall marketing strategy?
A core element of State Farm?s marketing strategy is meeting consumers where they are, with the most relevant message possible. 

For that reason, interactive and mobile marketing are a growing part of our marketing mix.

We live in an increasingly mobile world.

Teens and young adults are ?connected? all the time ? to their phones, to their computers, to their social networks and their friends.

If a brand doesn?t embrace this mobile lifestyle and connect on the audience?s terms, it is going to be left behind.

Can you talk about what the company has done in the mobile space? SMS, mobile ads, mobile Web site or apps?
Mobile marketing has been a part of many of our sports sponsorship promotions, and we use mobile search engine marketing and mobile display click-to-call tactics to drive Auto Underwriting Inquiries (AUI).

While we have a number of applications, one of our most interesting and recent is Steer Clear, which we launched earlier this year.  It seeks to keep teens safer on the road by encouraging them to gain more experience behind the wheel after they?ve received their license.  It includes a user-friendly trip timer to log required driving hours and safe driving tips, a safe driving pledge and instructional videos.