NEW YORK: State Farm has released a new spot targeted to the growing Asian Indian market in the US. The spot was inspired by the relationship between driven, career-minded 30-somethings and their visiting parents. Aptly titled ‘Intuition’, it tells the funny yet relatable story of an Asian Indian family, and of how ignoring parental advice isn’t always the best idea. The commercial also features Anu, a real State Farm agent who is so close to them that she’s almost a part of the family. In addition to broadcast, the creative is running across all digital platforms with the intent of generating positive associations among the community.
Desi culture is known for many things – Bollywood, deliciously spicy and fragrant food, festivals, and ‘loving your parents’. You might say that the last bit could be true for any culture (yes, we all love our parents) and you’d probably be right. But no one loves their parents in quite the same way as us Desis. And we have the movies to prove it – one of them literally had “it’s all about loving your parents” in its title. At least till a few decades ago, the Maa or Mom was a central figure in Indian movies, often rivaling the female lead in the order of importance. And almost every Maa in Indian cinema had the uncanny ability to predict exactly what was about to happen to their children before it happened. While lately, more diverse stories have taken precedence over the old-school-hero-with-a-perpetually-disappointed-mother plots; mothers in modern Indian cinema seem to have retained their extraordinary abilities of intuition.
Rakhee’s famous character in Karan Arjun was convinced her murdered sons would be reborn to avenge their deaths.
Although Indian movies, whether they are made in Bollywood or southern film industries, are notoriously prone to exaggeration, this remarkable trait of parental intuition is rooted in reality. At least somewhat. It’s no secret that Desi parents have deeply tight-knit relationships with their children that extend well into adulthood. Many pick their kids’ after-school activities, prescribe their career paths and more often than not, even choose their spouses through arranged marriages. A significant portion of adult children never move out of their parents’ homes, which are built to accommodate each sibling and their future partners. However, in a dynamic and globally connected South Asia and South Asian America, the parent-child relationship is fast evolving and not all parents micro-manage their children’s lives. In fact, more young parents are recognizing their children as individuals with unique interests and personalities. But regardless of the parenting style, the core of the Desi parent-child relationship remains incredibly snug and involved in each other’s lives. Even after moving few thousands miles to the US, adult children still rely on, or at least pay serious attention to, their parents’ advice.
But beyond the familial closeness, Desi parents’ presumed sense of intuition comes from the Hindu cultural context of ‘Third Eye’. A mythical ‘eye’ located between the two eyebrows, it is also understood as the center of a deeper consciousness in the Vedic practice. The cultural instinct for parents to monitor (and control) their children’s every move leads to slightly overstated warnings about having an actual ‘third eye’, and thus the ability to see the children even when they’re not around. While parental ‘third eye’ might be little more than an urban legend dressed as a cultural truth, its repeated sightings in Indian cinema have more or less cemented it into social realism. That, mixed with some scientific evidentiary maternal and paternal intuition often has Desis convinced that our parents just might have the ‘third eye’.
The Mom in State Farm’s Intuition commercial senses a tree might fall — and it does!
Above all, the ‘third eye’ is a cultural representation of the children’s acknowledgement and trust of their parents’ foresight. When we were looking for an idea that would resonate with Desis of all ages and generations, we realized that this would be the perfect way to deliver State Farm’s message of trust and being here to help life go right. A story about the ‘third eye’ where visiting parents call out a mishap before it happens but adult children ignore them anyway, came together in the latest commercial for State Farm we titled Intuition. Check it out below: