Watching football yesterday, I saw this USAA commercial about 1,500 times.
What’s cool about it is they didn’t need celebrities, gimmicks, or weird angles.
They no doubt saved a bundle — and effectively got their point across — simply by sharing stories from happy customers.
Here’s the ad:
In just 30 seconds, they:
- Call out who this is for
- Prove you can trust them
- Show what makes them unique
- Show how this can help you through an emotionally compelling story
Below is my breakdown of the ad. If you want to do a quick 30-second ad, following this formula would be a great way to go.
Part 1: The opening
The commercial starts with a man sharing why he trusts USAA over other insurance companies.
People are wary to trust businesses. So if they see other people trust you — and more importantly, understand WHY those people trust you — you can start to win them over.
The answer the man gives also shows what makes USAA unique. In this case, the customer says he trusts them because they have outstanding customer service.
If the guy just said they were trustworthy it would look like BS. But he gives a reason (great customer service) which makes it more believable.
Now, all that can sound like empty words until it’s backed up by more proof. And that’s exactly what they do in the next section:
Part 2: The story
Next, they cut to a different family telling a story of their experience using USAA.
A mom talks about how her daughter was in a car accident, and how USAA took care of getting the car towed, setting up a rental, etc.
This story shows what having USAA looks like in your life.
And it tugs at the reader’s emotions more than other commercials. Because in this one, they have the mom talk about her daughter’s accident as opposed to her own. There’s nothing worse for a parent then something bad happening to their child. So this story hits a deeper and stronger fear and stirs up more emotion in the viewer.
The emotional impact is driven home at the end of the story when the mom shares this line:
“All I had to take care of was making sure my daughter was okay.”
Any parent will resonate with that line because they would think the same in that situation.
Part 3: Expanding the target market
So far, we have heard from two parents.
But there is another huge group of people within that “parent” category we haven’t heard from.
What group is that?
In part three, we hear from a dad who is a vet. This targets vets more directly and gets them to see USAA is for them.
It also has the added bonus of showing USAA cares about military veterans. So Americans that are super proud of America and all about supporting the troops can see that USAA shares their values. And connecting over values is a powerful way to bond with a potential customer and get them to trust you.
In his little clip, the vet shares why he recommends USAA to other veterans.
He says: “I would tell them you need to join USAA because it has better rates and better service.”
Bam! Once again they drive home that point of “better customer service.” That is the key theme running through this whole ad. They are laser-focused on getting that point across and use 3 different customers to do it.
Of course, people are going to be worried about price. So they ease that concern when he mentions how they have better rates, too.
Part 4: Putting a bow on it
Next, they wrap the commercial up and put a nice little bow on top.
They have the families introduce themselves to drive home the fact that, yes, these are real people.
The fact each family is a different race certainly isn’t an accident. Gotta show this is used and trusted by more than just white people.
They end by saying “Get your auto insurance quote today” which is a little weak. They don’t even have the web address and there’s no real urgency behind it. Geico’s “Save 15% or more by switching to Geico” is one of the best calls to action I’ve seen in a commercial. So something closer to that would have made this stronger.
Throughout the commercial, they kept showing videos of these different families smiling and being together.
Because that’s what their service is really about. It’s not about tow trucks or you getting a check when your car is ruined. It’s about your family being safe and together.
Anytime I do a case study, I always include pictures that show a deeper benefit whenever possible. For example, when I do case studies showing someone who lost a lot of weight, I’ll, of course, show the before/after body shot. But the benefits are deeper than that. For a lot of people, the weight loss means they can “run around with their kids/grandkids”. So I always include pictures of them doing that.
So this commercial:
- Shares why people trust this company and what makes USAA unique
- Proves that claim with a story. And shows how this benefits the viewer in their life
- Targets specific audiences — families of different races and military veterans
- Keeps the focus on what matters most to these people — their family
And it gets all that across in 30 seconds.
You can make something similar. All you need are happy customers and simple questions like “Why do you trust us over other companies?” “Can you share an example of how our product/service helped you?” and “What would you say to people like you who were thinking about joining?”
Those are all questions I ask in my case study interviews. They go a long way in helping people see you’re trustworthy and that you’re the right choice for them.