Just like a good neighbor, hey there’s Bob Barker!

Or via Vimeo.

I was watching the Giants get blown away by the Green Bay Packers this evening, when the above commercial for State Farm insurance kept coming on.

This year State Farm, which is a major life, health and auto insurer in America, has been running an ad that relies on its well-known 40-year-old jingle, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” (I think this was originally, “just like a good neighbor”, but never mind.)

The gag is that whenever the policy holder says this famous line from the world of voiced commercials, a State Farm agent appears to help them with their immediate claim. What’s very funny is that the people whom the insured is with start dreaming up their own wants and desires, which immediately appear as well.

Some sexual tension in that one, where the nagging girlfriend turns her boyfriend into handsome actor Mehcad Brooks. In turn, she gets changed into lingerie model Selita Ebanks. (Having come to you recently from Japan, of course I had to look the names of these actors up. Man, I have to know who is who and what’s been going on here. It’s part of my re-integrating to American society!)

There are two or three others out on the net, with different themes.

The jingle itself is the brainchild of Keith Reinhard, who had worked for the Needham ad agency in what is known in the ad world as the golden age (or creative era, depending) of the 1960’s and ’70’s. I am not sure if the talent went to such phrases as “you deserve a break today” as much as that commercial messages simply became much more pervasive, more entrenched than they had been before television. Maybe the innovation was in how the message became more personalized than it had been in, say, the 1950’s. It was less of someone’s hard sell, and more of a suggestive, soft sell.

So the appeal of “just like a good neighbor”. Bringing in the retired Bob Barker, who is like the Mino Monta of American TV, adds to the retro theme.

The young woman’s “whoa hoo hoo hoo” has its own distinctiveness. [Update 3/30/11: the best guess, since I get a routine hit on this very question, is that this is ad actor Nichole O’Connor (Twitter feed).] You can bet that must be a thing she does as part of her everyday style, that the folks shooting the piece had her do 12 times to get it down just how they wanted it.

[Update: one from back in the ’80’s . . . at 0:35

7 thoughts on “Just like a good neighbor, hey there’s Bob Barker!

  1. I’m sorry, I should say something more (Merry Xmas, Hoofin! Hope the States’re treatin’ you right! Or at least will do so from now on if it hasn’t started yet!), but that last comment is the most hilarious thing I have encountered in the last two weeks, and I just got back from a party at my company where six guys (just regular company guys) were dressed in schoolgirl outfits and dancing to AKB48.

    If you don’t mind, I’m going to whip that one out at appropriate occasions.

    “I dunno if that’s a good idea. Maybe you should think again.”

    “He used to not be orange.”


    1. This is the Bob Barker that I always remember–probably from the time I used to regularly watch the show.

      I had read somewhere that on his mother’s side he is descended from the American Indians. So he might actually be more naturally red or brown than your average white guy, I really dunno. Plus California and the sunshine. But this thing of off colors: first Al Gore in the debate, then Speaker Boehner (however that is spelled). These guys are showing up, on TV, orange. Like it’s the Princeton Homecoming game. I gotta wonder what that is about.

      They make you feel like something is going wrong with the color contrast on the set.

      People can be orange if they want, I guess.

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