Every now and then there’s a commercial that captures the public’s attention and inserts itself into mainstream thought and humor. If the company who created that commercial is (very) lucky, it becomes “household:” a theme, image, or concept that everyone understands and relates to. It’s more than going viral, as viral videos or memes on the Internet are often a flash in the pan and fade until the next big thing comes along. For a commercial to become household, something about the writing or the images must capture something that the general population claims as true, that resonates with us for a variety of reasons, and sticks.


One such commercial is State Farm’s standalone spot “Jake from State Farm,” in which a woman comes downstairs at 3am to find her husband on the phone having a hushed conversation and interprets it to be less innocent than her husband claims. As it turns out, he is actually on the phone with Jake from State Farm, getting information about a discount on insurance.

The commercial is funny for a number of reasons: the writing, the delivery, the actors, the pauses. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason for its success, but successful it certainly was: memes, parodies, and even Halloween costumes appeared because of it, and even now, over three years later, I still see this commercial pop up on my screen. This tweet from a Twitter user just days ago illustrates the depth with which Jake from State Farm has penetrated the cultural landscape:

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But it’s more than the comedy that turned this commercial into a household concept. It’s funny, to be sure, but there’s something more timeless that makes it stick; a relatability that appeals to audiences in a broad way and reflects our interests back to us in a way that resonates. In the case of Jake from State Farm? That resonance lies in the phone call.

One of the things that customers across industries are most frustrated with, studies show, is the inability to speak with a live service representative when they have issues that need to be addressed. We are a nation on hold, and buyers are sick of it. In their Jake commercial, State Farm proves their awareness of this frustration and shows customers that any time—day or night—you want to contact them about insurance, they will have someone there waiting by the phone. Even at 3am. And even when your wife is yelling at you. They put a phone number right there on the screen, communicating to viewers everywhere that if they have questions, all the have to do is call.

More recently, other companies have picked up on buyers’ need to contact a live representative—wisely: after all, 69% of customers rank live assistance as the best kind of service they can receive. Discover, for example, has rolled out a series of commercials that highlight their live service with the line, “We treat you like you’d treat you.” The commercials feature a customer calling with a question, being answered by themselves on the other end. In one case, twin sisters Lisa and Julie find themselves on the phone, one asking a question and the other providing the service. Like with Jake from State Farm, viewers are shown that if they have questions—no matter how small—a friendly, helpful representative will be by the phone ready to answer it.


These successful commercials serve not only to highlight their excellent customer support and service; they also humanize the call center environment, putting a pleasant face on the aspect of calling a business that many customers view with some skepticism. It’s genius, really: changing the representation of what customers imagine a call center looking like provides something like a brand overhaul. Rather than customers envisioning a surly rep or a complicated automated system, they envision a Jake or a Lisa, ready with a smile to help them with their issue. The added slant of humor keeps the message from being too stiff: rather than smiling, too-beautiful actors robotically reading a script promising good service, the commercials illustrate everything that makes phone conversations the best kind of service: natural, human dialogue.

The best part about all this is that it’s easy to offer the kind of service that State Farm and Discover advertise. A number of sophisticated call routing and call management tools exist that, when implemented, make it easy for incoming phone calls to be handled with ease, providing that world-class customer support that brings customers flocking.

And it’s more than customer service for existing customers, of course. When you open up the phone as a line of communication with potential customers, you’re also opening up a whole new channel of revenue. The surge of inbound phone calls to businesses from smartphones, for example, has catapulted implementing click-to-call to the top of businesses’ to-do lists. According to Google, more than half of mobile callers are researching a product or service, or want to complete a purchase when they call a business directly. If you’re not giving them a way to call you, then you’re missing out on revenue.

Not every business can offer live assistance at 3am—we can’t all be Jake—but recognizing and implementing the power of voice is a great start. We’ve given this a lot of thought, so feel free to download this guide if you want to learn ways you can start moving to…ahem…a better state of voice. Get it now: The Definitive Guide to Voice Based Marketing Automation.