State Farm Books Steve Harvey

NEW YORK State Farm has tapped Steve Harvey for a series of digital comedy shorts on a range of topics of interest to car and home insurance consumers.

The first short premiered at to coincide with National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs this week. It features an animated version of Harvey going through a stand-up bit about his son’s request for a brand new Escalade. There are 48 digital shorts planned, which will roll out over the next year.

The campaign’s basic idea was to extend the Steve Harvey and State Farm brands in an unexpected yet wanted manner,” said Bob Wingo, CEO of Sanders/Wingo, the African-American advertising agency of record, which created and produced the campaign. “Everyone wants to be in social media and utilizing digital content, but to be successful as we believe this will be, it needs to be relevant.”

Sanders/Wingo and State Farm provided Harvey with broad topics, which he riffed off of for the clips. State Farm spent $387 million on media in 2008 and $230 million for the first eight months of 2009, per Nielsen.

Visitors to the site get a personal touch by entering their name, which then appears in animated marquee lights. They can also enter their ZIP code and find a State Farm agent in the area.

State Farm first began its association with the comedian and author when it made a media buy on the Steve Harvey Morning Show to support the 50 Million Pound Challenge, a weight-loss campaign sponsored by the insurance company. Harvey’s on-air discussions of his own weight-loss challenges helped engage consumers enough that State Farm partnered with him again to bring his perspective to the current campaign.

“These bits are strictly entertaining,” said Pam El, State Farm marketing vp, in a statement. “Though they address insurance and financial-services-related topics, to broaden State Farm’s brand voice in an unexpected way, they are delivered with Steve’s unique perspective and humor.”

Nielsen Business Media