State Farm Sponsors Facebook Game

State Farm is continuing its quest to connect with younger consumers with the sponsorship of a popular social game on Facebook.

The Bloomington, Ill.-based insurance company is launching a six-month ad campaign within the game Car Town that includes branded missions, virtual item giveaways and new State Farm-branded promotions that let players earn bonuses of virtual currency.

Car Town has 7.2 million active users and is one of the largest games on Facebook. Created by Cie Games, Car Town lets players collect and customize virtual cars, build their dream garages and help their friends do the same.

State Farm is not new to in-game advertising, but this is the first online social game. The company previously dynamically placed advertising signage, created a “Bejeweled” like game for the women’s market, been hard coded in EA Sports and other games on platforms like Xbox. This effort targets the 18-34 demographic, but since social games cut across a broad spectrum of users, its reach will be much wider.

The game delivers more than impressions — it delivers focused engagement, says Ed Gold, State Farm advertising director. It allows the company to “convey the messages that are important to us, about safe driving and multi-car discounts, without making it a hard sell,” he says.

“We felt that CarTown represented a great opportunity to link our brand to cars in the virtual world,” Gold tells Marketing Daily. “This is just another way we are connecting with young adults to get them to see State Farm as a contemporary brand and consider State Farm when purchasing insurance.” Earlier this year, State Farm launched a TV and online campaign geared toward consumers ages 18-25.

In Car Town, there are promotions that bring State Farm’s brand messages — like “multi-car,” “safe-driver” and “good neighbor” discounts — into the game itself through three distinct “State Farm Challenges.”

The first, which is currently available, is called the “Safe Driver Challenge.” Once players complete 10 full-passenger road trips within the game, they’ll get an award of two blue points — in-game virtual currency that players normally have to buy with real money. Players also will be able to give their friends a chance to earn blue points. When they publish a post to their Facebook pages that says “I completed the State Farm Challenge,” the first person to click on that post gets one blue point.

Two other challenges will be introduced over the next two months. All three challenges will rotate every 30 days for six months.

Car Town and State Farm also will be giving away virtual items beginning later this month. They will promote the giveaway with banners and billboards within the game, and with a State Farm agent in the game that will direct players to get the exclusive items, such as posters, car wraps and avatar t-shirts, from the youth-oriented “State Farm Nation” Facebook Fan Page..