Ad of the Day: SafeAuto’s Fârnhäan is a confidently wrong AI device everyone seems to accept in latest campaign

Farnhaan gives vague AI answers in SafeAuto campaign

A fake Alexa wannabe is featured in a new campaign for insurance company SafeAuto to spoof the glitches in popular AI devices and users’ instincts to accept the answers regardless.

Dozens of new TV, digital and social media ads by SafeAuto agency Greatest Common Factory introduce Fârnhäan, a lightbulb atop a wooden box that confidently gives wrong answers in a faux German accent, to drive home the fact that things don’t always make sense in a world of AI and fake news, but by contrast, getting a car insurance quote can be simple, easy and rewarding.

In ‘Tokyo,’ a woman asks Fârnhäan what time it is in Tokyo, then takes it in stride when the device answers “It is 4:30 PM, June 20th, 1983.” In ‘Baklava,’ a man asks Fârnhäan what’s in the dessert Baklava, and the answer includes toothpaste, to which the man replies “mmm…minty.” In all spots, an announcer interrupts, saying “that doesn’t sound right,” and invites viewers to check out SafeAuto, closing with, “at least someone’s making sense.”

“We’re tapping into an evolving conversation in America today,” said John Trahar, co-founder and creative director of Greatest Common Factory. “Between fake news and malfunctioning AI devices, we hear more things said with authority that don’t sound quite right. So, we created a character and a spoof that we can extend almost indefinitely across situations and media platforms.”

Greatest Common Factory gave Fârnhäan a backstory including a fictional scientist, Dr. Greta von Blünk, who’s the subject of a teaser campaign introducing the device. Five Greta spots – where she explains her creation – will air on local news stations and social media. A Fârnhäan website takes the joke even further, saying the device takes "an emotional, nearsighted glimpse at the big picture." A range of storylines will play out on social media – based on how Fârnhäan might interact and comment on each platform.

“The big challenge in marketing today is content creation moving slower than types of media now available. We still have the same budgets to create assets, but now they have to work across 700 channels instead of seven,” said Charlie Kordes, customer demand and experience leader at SafeAuto. “Fârnhäan is a visual mnemonic we can easily translate to social media, streaming, and in-app/inline content, without a lot of incremental cost. We can’t afford to make 700 original pieces of content, but we can easily have the device say 700 different things. And we’re co-opting all the marketing and awareness behind AI to increase our relevance as we highlight our simple value proposition.”

The new effort follows a yearlong campaign, ‘Terrible Quotes,’ which juxtaposed nonsensical statements with the idea that SafeAuto will give you a good quote in three minutes – a play on the company’s ability to make easier a process that most consumers find uncomfortable.

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Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week.

I also play saxophone professionally.

All by Kyle