Match Made in Tennessee: Activating Farm Bureau Insurance’s Partnership with The Vols

Farm Bureau Insurance covers more homes in Tennessee than any other insurer and is second in auto and individual life insurance policies. And, the ongoing Farmer Charlie campaign has created higher awareness in Tennessee than Geico, Progressive or State Farm.

So to continue to build its brand dominance in Tennessee, Farm Bureau Insurance became the Official Insurance of the Tennessee Vols. To activate that sponsorship Tombras paired Farmer Charlie with University of Tennessee Football and Basketball coaches to create a multi-channel campaign using TV, radio, digital advertising, in-venue graphics and social media.

The campaign has gone viral, reaching over 150,000 Tennesseans on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Watch Brick By Brick and Blue Chips below:

Cause Marketing Differentiates Farm Bureau Insurance – Tennessee

Each October, pink takes over the NFL, thousands of run/walk 5Ks take place all over the country, clever t-shirts are made, and money is raised to support breast cancer awareness—making it one of the most prominent causes in the US.

Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee saw the benefit to being a part of this visible month of support for an issue so prevalent in our country. But in order to become an effective advocate, Farm Bureau first had to decide how it was going differentiate its efforts during this established month of awareness.

Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee competes in a highly competitive category where significant dollars are spent every hour trying to capture consumers’ attention. Therefore, to stand out in its cause-marketing efforts, it chose to become the first statewide sponsor of the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer charity in Tennessee.

By leveraging its strong brand awareness and two of the most recognizable brand icons in the state ­­– Farmer Charlie and his ever-present red Charlie hat ­– Farm Bureau was able to raise nearly $375,000 for the cause.  In fact, the hat was the genesis of the idea, with the thinking being that if red hats are famous, why not create pink ones to raise money for the American Cancer Society (ACS), too?

To make that happen, The Tombras Group helped Farm Bureau Insurance take an integrated and collaborative approach by:

  • Selling Limited Edition Farmer Charlie Pink hats with proceeds going to ACS
  • Executing an aggressive offline advertising program featuring TV and radio spots and outdoor billboards throughout the state.
  • Creating a consistent and spirited social media campaign primarily on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Leveraging Public Relations via special appearances featuring Farmer Charlie at Strides Walks and radio interviews throughout the state.
  • Kicking off a corporate-wide grass-roots effort where Farm Bureau Insurance employees, agents and family created their own teams to raise money for the shared cause they adopted.

So, what were the outcomes?

The campaign ended with a check presentation to ACS at a Tennessee Titans football game since the NFL is also a major supporter of Strides.  A substantial amount of money was raised for a good cause. Farm Bureau Insurance employees and agents felt good about their efforts, and, from a branding standpoint, Farm Bureau associated itself with a good cause in a month during which people appreciate the awareness efforts of brands and individuals alike.

Pink hats off to Farm Bureau Insurance for this effort. Tombras is humbled to have been part of our client’s success!


Brooke Duncan is a Senior Vice President and Group Account Supervisor for The Tombras Group.