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An Open Letter to State Farm From Fearless Parent

FP-logo-tagline1By Louise Kuo Habakus

Mr. Edward B. Rust, Jr.
CEO, State Farm Insurance
One State Farm Plaza
Bloomington, IL 61710
(309) 766-2311
ebrust@statefarm.com

Note: if you would like Ed to see this letter, please e-mail it to him.

November 18, 2014

Dear Ed

On behalf of concerned parents across the country, I’m asking you to reverse a recent business decision.

The resonance of your branding suggests that you should be responsive. State Farm is the ubiquitous “good neighbor,” trading on trustworthiness and integrity at the highest standard. You’re a corporate giant who claims to go beyond what’s legal to do what’s right.

State Farm grasps the power of cultural iconography

Your pricey TV commercials are hip and funny. The latest, featuring SNL faves, are a “social branded content push” aimed at milennials and everyone else, too.



Your decision to ditch Rob Schneider shocked us.

When you dumped Rob Schneider as a spokesman because he believes parents have the right to decide what’s in the best interests of their children… our collective jaws hit the ground.

As reported in PR Week and widely covered, State Farm dropped Rob Schneider over his views regarding vaccine mandates after social media pages Food Hunk, Science Babe, and Chow Babe called on State Farm to help end the “anti-vaccination movement.”

(Seriously?)

Your public affairs director, Phil Supple, said the State Farm ad featuring the Richmeister “has unintentionally been used as a platform for discussion unrelated to the products and services we provide.”

(Make no mistake, it wasn’t unintentional.)

Bad move for a smart company.

It got me thinking…

Why on earth would the nation’s largest insurer of cars and homes choose to make such a big statement to the nation’s 150+ million parents over an issue that you admit is unrelated to your business?

And then why would State Farm double down by repudiating a world famous, much loved comedian and Emmy-nominated actor who’s also a conscientious and devoted father expressing an educated, courageous, and heartfelt opinion?

Insurance companies are conservative. I was a corporate vice president for a large insurer for ten years. It’s pretty clear to me why State Farm thought it was a good idea to pull Rob’s ad. A slam dunk, even. Maybe you were led to believe that concerns about parental rights, vaccine safety, and health freedom are radical and fringe.

Not even close. With your decision to unceremoniously cancel Rob, you telegraphed some very brand-damaging messages. Consider how many parents see it:

STATE FARM TOOK A STAND AGAINST PARENTS

You allowed your brand and ad platform to be co-opted for a highly visible and unrelated objective that parents find offensive. Are you really saying that parents shouldn’t decide what’s in the best interests of our kids? Do you truly want State Farm to come down on the side of censorship, suppression, and forced vaccination?

Rob was exercising his right to free speech, promoting an open discussion about a critically important topic and your response was to give him a public spanking and send him to his room. You slammed the door and shut down dialogue. That isn’t socially responsible, good corporate citizenship. It’s corporate McCarthyism and a big part of what’s wrong with society today.

Sometimes, parents are presented with difficult options, each with its own advantages and risks. Children have different risk profiles based on family and medical histories, exposure history, lifestyle, geography, culture, and more.  Parents are absolutely correct in rejecting one-size-fits-all diets, educational options—and medicine.

We parents do our best to make thoughtful, rational, informed decisions in the best interests of our families. It’s difficult enough without heavy-handed corporate interference.

STATE FARM VALIDATED A FALSE NARRATIVE

There is no “anti-vaccination” movement. Calling parents “anti-vaccine” is a distorted construct created for the express purpose of labeling and dismissing legitimate concerns. To represent parents as ideologically opposed to an entire category of medical procedures is absurd and irresponsible. All diseases are not the same and neither are all vaccines. Just because a certain antibiotic can cause severe injury to some does not make them anti-antibiotic, any more than deciding not to drive a particular model with defective acceleration makes us anti-car.

In firing Rob, State Farm took the bait. You were used for a purpose that has nothing to do with your brand.

STATE FARM BEHAVED LIKE A CORPORATE BEHEMOTH

Your decision was neither neighborly nor trustworthy. It was a unilateral cheap shot and an institutional power play executed without discussion or remorse.

Americans are fiercely independent. How we raise our children is our business. We don’t like it when powerful entities flex their muscles and tell us what to do. We don’t care if bureaucrats and executives think something is good for us. More than that, we don’t trust it. You’re a corporation. Your job is to make great products and deliver outstanding customer service.

When it comes to parenting our children, you don’t get a vote.

WHEN BIG MEDIA SLAMS THE LITTLE GUY…

TIME magazine’s hit piece on Rob Schneider is disappointing. Rather than engage in an intelligent, serious discussion on a controversial subject, author Jeffrey Kluger resorts to ridicule, leading us to wonder why he’s unable to respond appropriately:

“For the record Rob [sic], no, there is no government conspiracy to force vaccines on kids. No, doctors are not bought off by big pharma. No, vaccines are not filled with toxins. And no, this is not a free speech issue…”

For the record, Jeffrey is wrong:

  1. Government wants all kids vaccinated. Conspiracy is his word, not ours. And it’s not a useful word.
  2. Pharma has undue influence on doctors. There’s no question. Relationships are tight and unethical. Stay tuned for the Sunshine Act.
  3. Vaccines are indeed filled with toxins. This is how they work and how they cause autoimmunity and other harm.
  4. You better believe this is a free speech issue. Could the media have lined up more quickly to shut Rob down? U.S. press freedom is appallingly low but something smells especially bad at TIME.

    Read the full article at Fearless Parent.

    Louise circle

    Louise Kuo Habakus heads Fearless Parent™. She is the lead editor of Vaccine Epidemic and co-founder and Executive Director of the Center for Personal Rights. She is the host and producer of Fearless Parent Radio™. Louise was formerly a corporate vice president for Prudential Financial, a managing director for Putnam Investments, and a Bain consultant. She received two degrees from Stanford University. Louise lives in New Jersey, which is global or U.S. headquarters to over half of the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies.

     

Comments

Next generation won't buy the corporate bs

Hey Laura and Anne J-

Another echo here for what you said about the intelligent siblings. My daughter has had a front row seat to all the horrific medical issues endured by her brother, and accompanied me to many of his appointments to both mainstream physicians, and to the physicians that actually helped him. She has listened for years to ignorant commentary from two uncles that are physicians. She has watched me sit in front of this computer for 14 years, and together with my PhD scientist husband, figure out what to do on our own.

She is now in med school, brilliant, and she KNOWS.

cmo

Thank you Louise.

Things also do not seem to be going too well with ratings at the Today show these days,

It does not look like the return of Dr. Nancy will help matters very much...

we just have a few clips here...

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=just+get+your+damn+vaccine&FORM=VIRE2#view=detail&mid=B9FF3399921A39EE1275B9FF3399921A39EE1275

Louise Kuo Habakus

It was no accident that Rob Schneider was slammed by industry and media. It's meant as a warning to others who might dare to speak out, too. It's important for us to show broad support and solidarity, so please share widely and tag liberally, too.

Thank you to Age of Autism and to all for your comments. I am taking them over to my blog so people can read them in one place. If you'd rather I not do that, just let me know.

Laura Hayes

Excellent letter, Louise! Thank you for taking the time to not only chastise and attempt to educate State Farm, but equally important, to defend a champion of parental rights and medical choice freedom, Rob Schnieder.

Anne J, your comment mirrored what I was going to write, so I will just say, "Ditto what Anne J said!" Great points regarding the intelligent siblings, the choices they will be making/demanding, and the forces of change they will be.

Twyla

Excellent letter - so articulate!

David Taylor

It's easy to understand, if not accept, State Farm's decision with this simple framing from the ending of "Killing Them Softly"--

"America isn't a country. It's a business. Now, pay me."
~ Hired Assassin

Jonathan Rose

We recall with horror the Hollywood blacklists of the 1950s, and we like to think that sort of thing couldn't happen today. But of course, it is happening all over again: an organized and at least partly successful effort to deny actors work because they take unpopular political stands. And this time around, media outlets like Time are openly endorsing blacklisting. If we want to fight it, let's start by calling it what it is.

Anne J.

I believe State Farm has done more damage than they realize with their irresponsible move regarding Rob Schneider. We will certainly never use them after this, but even more important, think of all the SIBLINGS of all these vaccine-injured kids. Many of them (like my two) are just graduating high school, buying their first cars, homes etc. You can bet my young adult children will not even consider State Farm as a contender for any of their future business after this (they've been taught to vote with their pocket books). They have seen what's happened to their beautiful, vaccine-injured sister. They've also seen the "medical bullying" I've endured over the years, they've witnessed the success of biomedical interventions and diet, they've read to obviously biased mainstream media reports, etc. The siblings of these injured children tend to be highly intelligent, and I believe they will be a force to be reckoned with. They are just as angry about the denial of vaccine injury in this country, they are very interested in freedom to choose what's injected to their own bodies (especially with a known history of vaccine injury in the family), and they have the energy and passion to pursue justice. They are our future researchers, doctors, business owners, lawyers and politicians, and they know very well what has happened to several generations of innocent children. They will continue this "medical revolution" for as long as it takes. The drug companies want this all to "just go away", but that's not going to happen. There is no putting this genie back in the bottle, no matter how many news outlets or businesses they bribe.

BoB Moffitt

@ John

Love your analogy of "The Princess and The Pea".

Benedetta

People with real courage and conviction -- are rare and more precious than all the gold in the world.

Benedetta

It was a good piece of work - really funny - got my attention.
Rob has talent, but no matter how much talent you have you have --

Speaking of talent -- John Travolta if you are not too sick -- and you have to know the truth by now - since your son like my daughter had Kawasakis - and that vasculities went on into autism -- You have to know by now that many vaccines cause vasculiities??? Could you give it a word now?

John Stone

As submitted to Fearlessparent.org:

Louise,

As ever you are a formidable advocate, and what a perfect assemblage of arguments. You are quite right that it is unnecessary to be opposed to a class of products per se but we are of course faced with such a complex of institutional bias, conflicts, inadequate trialling and monitoring, public bullying, legislative failure and absence of process that it is presently quite difficult to take anything about any of the products on trust. Moreover, what renders this above everything dangerous is the inability to accept or deal with criticism. I recently compared the pharmaceutical industry to the princess in Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Princess and the Pea'. The princess has now been a princess since at least 1986 and she gets more unreasonable, vindictive and tyrannical by the year, because the government's preening courtiers have allowed it. The point about the princess is that instead of being a really wonderful person, she is actually a vicious bully and everybody should stop pretending.

John

MelissaD

That is precisely why we found another insurance company (cheaper and better coverage was a plus) and dropped our State Farm after nearly 20 years. Thank you Louise I plan to print a copy of this and send it to my local agent, so they are clear on why we no longer wanted to be a customer. And thank you Rob Schneider for sticking up for what you believe in, even when it costs you.

BoB Moffitt

Louise .. I wholeheartedly agree with your well deserved criticisms of State Farm CEO decision to "dump" Rob Schneider for having the courage to exercise our basic Constitutional Right to "free speech".

Shame on them .. and .. rest assured .. I will be sending my own comments to Ed Brust .. as the parent of two .. now the grandparent of five .. who has witnessed first hand their suffering of .. life-long .. life-threatening .. chronic autoimmune disorders .. including .. ITP reqiring the surgical removal of a four-year old's spleen, ongoing asthma attacks at times requiring hospital intervention ..and .. "regressive autism" affecting my beloved 15 year old ... non-verbal grandson .. all of which were uncommon in my own .. less vaccinated .. childhood.

That State Farm would "dump" someone who dared speak "truth to power" is not only shameful .. it is .. business wise .. stupid.

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