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.
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’.
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:
State Farm “Intuition”: Third-Eye Commercial
Written by Yashica Dutt
Associate Copy Director
If you have watched or plan to watch Crazy Rich Asians in the theater, this is a before-the-movie commercial that you’re likely to see.
Playing an authentic bilingual Asian-featured commercial in theater in front of a diverse audience group is unprecedented. Envisioning Crazy Rich Asians’ appeal among Asian Americans, we, together with our client State Farm, decided to release “Smart Living”, a spot original developed for Asian Americans, alongside the much-anticipated RomCom in nearly 3,000 theaters nationwide. And it’s proven to be a smart move – according to Motion Picture Association of America, during Crazy Rich Asians’ opening weekend, about 40% of the moviegoers were Asians. It’s an amazing turnout, considering that Asians only make up to 6% of the American population.
What has driven us to push this theater release is we believe the story is universal, transcending language and culture and appealing to the ever increasingly diverse and intersectional American audiences. Anyone that has frustrating experiences talking to Alexa or Google Home would have a chuckle, regardless of race.
And the spot’s bilingual scenes come naturally with the storyline, and they vividly reflects the true-life moments of the majority of Asian Americans – speaking English as a professional at work, and chatting in a second language with friends and family. Be it Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi and many more. Crazy Rich Asians says it all – Rachel and Nick, two professors in NYU, switch their language when meeting their families.
“Crazy Rich Asians does not promote any Asian cultural superiority, nor deliberately fakes any story to feed Western aesthetics. It tells America that Asian Americans are just like everybody else in this country, having funny life stories.” This is a most liked viewer comment, spotted from a popular US-based Chinese language online forum Huaren.com, which applies to not just the movie but also the “Smart Living” spot in this context.
Just like Crazy Rich Asians is a pioneer of Asians’ presence in silver screen, “Smart Living” also leads the trend of showing authentic bilingual Asian American depictions in mainstream advertising environment.
ver the years, State Farm Insurance has emphasized that they are prepared to be there for you like the very best neighbor, whether your car breaks down or your “she-shed” is inexplicably engulfed in flames. With their newest campaign — and signature humor — the Asian-American audience is highlighted, with the 96-year-old insurance brand eager to come to the rescue, even if a menacing smart home goes off the rails.