Recruiting the ‘Richmeister’ as Pitchman Backfires on State Farm

rob-schneider-state-farmIt’s another striking example of what happens when PR and advertising fail to work together effectively: State Farm Insurance has dropped Rob Schneider as a pitchman for his anti-vaccination beliefs.

State Farm, which promotes immunizations awareness as a way of preventing the spread of viral diseases, probably should have been aware of Schneider’s stance on vaccinations before they launched the ad campaign.

At PR News, we constantly harp on how important it is for brands and organizations to have an integrated approach to communications. State Farm’s flub, with regard to Schneider, is a perfect example of the consequences of having a siloed approach.

Schneider’s “Richmeister” character, which originated on Saturday Night Live back in the 1990s, was recruited to help State Farm sell its “Discount Double Check” car insurance program.

In the ad, a couple of expected parents have just bought a policy and, along with the agent, is about to make some copies of the policy when they encounter the Richmeister sitting at his desk.

“Steve and Sandy, getting’ it done, more people-o-rama,” he says.

Shortly after the ads debuted, a social media campaign was launched by pseudoscience debunkers, who said that using Schneider as a pitchman may not reflect well on the brand.

Schneider has a long public history of anti-vaccination statements, according to the For instance, he protested a California state bill that would have required parents to be informed of the risks before taking a philosophical exemption to vaccinations, according to

State Farm is now working to remove the ad from its rotation.

This episode probably could have been avoided if State Farm’s PR team was more in the loop.

Recruiting celebrities to help sell your products and services can be tricky. Communicators need to be included in the vetting process.

By conducting some simple research into the celebrity you have in mind—and whether that person has said anything that runs counter to your brand mission—companies can avoid an embarrassing marketing campaign, or worse.

Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1