State Farm Backpedals on "Humiliated Cyclist" Ad

I came across this State Farm ad last week and at the time found it to be somewhat insulting to bike commuters. The video has been pulled from YouTube, but the link describes the commercial. Apparently many of the commenters on Streetsblog also took offense, and surprisingly, Tim Van Hoof, the Director of Marketing Communications with State Farm, responded:

I’m sorry this commercial offended anyone. State Farm has been a supporter of bicycle safety through the thousands of bicycle rodeos we’ve held for children throughout the US and Canada, and we are open to discussion about how State Farm may be able to work with the bicycling community in the future.

Mr. Van Hoof then followed up his comment with a statement that State Farm had pulled the ad from the campaign:

As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I am sorry the advertisement offended anyone. Our intention with this particular ad was to recognize and empathize with the everyday challenge of high gas prices, and suggest that State Farm could help by providing lower auto insurance rates than a person may be receiving from their current provider.

But clearly we have heard your concerns. In fact, we take very seriously each letter, email and blog comment we receive.
During the past few days, I discussed the perception of this advertisement with others at State Farm, and we decided the right thing to do would be to discontinue it. We will remove this ad as quickly as possible from the current rotation schedule.

Please know that State Farm is very concerned about doing what we can to improve the health, safety and environment in our communities.

Though it is upsetting that State Farm thought this was a good idea for an ad, I am impressed that they listened to the commenters on Streetsblog and actually pulled the ad.

If anyone knows where video of this can still be seen please post a link in the comments.

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0 thoughts on “State Farm Backpedals on "Humiliated Cyclist" Ad”

  1. Slippery Pete says:

    Wow–nice to see a company issue an actual apology. Usually it written along the lines of “we’re sorry if some people took it the wrong way”. Good for them.

  2. kaz_kougar says:

    Seriously? I laughed when I saw this commercial. It is sad that this is how the ignorant majority see bike commuting but State Farm is an insurance company and anyone who takes such an entity seriously should re-evaluate their purpose for being. Such junk contributes to my decision to cancel my satellite subscription and as of today I’m pretty much done with TV! As far as I’m concerned, garbage such as this belongs on TV in the form of a commercial advertisement which which you know as well as I do we would all be better off without 95% of these.
    If you’re offended by this idiotic display of corporate prowess, LIGHTEN UP AND GO FOR A RIDE!

  3. kathleen says:

    Power to the people! Glad to see that so many cyclists took the time to voice their opinions. It proves that the marketplace will respond to constructive criticism and the threat of negative publicity. I’m sure that business will take note of the interests of the cycling community the more we make our numbers and presence known.

  4. Warren T says:

    I dunno, I think I’m with Kaz; I thought it was funny. As I recall the guy was on a very small girl’s bike and at one point in the spot he was pedaling next to some guy on a road bike. The point they were trying to make is that it stinks having to come up with alternatives after losing your primary mode of transportation. My oldest son is going through that right now.

    BTW — I got back into commuting by bike because I’d been forced into that same alternative after a clown in a catering truck decided to pay attention to a co-ed’s rear end rather than the rear end of my mini van, which was stopped at a red light. I just figured out that the alternative suited me better than driving.

    Seems like State Farm handled things well. I hate to say that because they really hosed me several years ago after I had to submit two claims on my house insurance within two years. “Like a good neighbor” my eye.

  5. DAn says:

    I still saw the commercial last night with the adult riding a kids bike that Warren mentioned. Did they pull that one as well?

    We have to remember, bike commuters aren’t State Farm’s bread and butter. They’re into insuring the cagers when they plow into others and homeowner’s insurance. We switched from State Farm a few months back for our insurance and the SF agent is trying to woo us back again. After these ads, I admit I thought twice about going back and not sure if I will or not.

  6. Girl Jen says:

    I would have rather seen a follow-up commercial, where the bike commuter was pedaling down the bike path, fit and happy and watching traffic back up on a freeway overpass. Then a voiceover: “Jim commutes to work by bike. Because of this, we were able to reclassify his vehicle as ‘recreational use only’ and save him $x on his car insurance. Drive less, pay less.” (or something to that effect)

    But that would never fly.

    The apology was nice, though, as is the fact that they listened to complaints and pulled the commercial.

  7. bikesgonewild says:

    …what everyone said…

    …the adds are/were “dumb” funny…those offended did take the time & effort to get in touch…state farm was concerned & sensitive enough to not only respond by pulling the adds but by issuing an apology…& girl jen has great ideas for both a follow up bike themed add & what should be a new insurance policy…

    …& somewhere, someone sits in an advertising company boardroom trying to explain away & justify what seemed like a “brilliant idea” at the time…

  8. Chrillusionist says:

    I thought the add was offensive and I am happy that they pulled it. In the back of my mind I knew they were not trying to offend anyone. Warren T, I like your perspective on the ad.

    In relation to Girl Jen’s comment – My two cars are insured under All State (not State Farm). I’m able to get a nice discount because I commute to work by bicycle (4.1 miles one way). Nice to get a discount that pays for any bike maintenance or repairs I may need. Wish I lived farther away from work (more $, more exercise, more riding). Not sure if State Farm has discounts, but I would guess yes. The discounts must help their bottom line in some way, so maybe it could be something they could promote.

    If you have a car and don’t commute, start and check it out with your insurance company to see if you can get a discount.

  9. Chrillusionist says:

    Ooops! Just watched the video on the Internet. It was Farmer’s Insurance Group, not State Farm. When I first saw the ad on TV I thought it was All State. Why do these insurance company’s have such common names? Has to be a bit of marketing nightmare.

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