TEMPE – Patrick Minnis knows his commercials are on television. A lot. He understands that the popularity of his co-stars, two of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks, is the reason the ads seem to air on a loop.
He feels your pain.
Still, Minnis feels a tinge of pride when he hears those familiar four notes of the State Farm Insurance jingle, signaling his spot in the company’s nationwide campaign – as the insurance agent of Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes – is coming on. He still enjoys listening to dialogue and recalling the rapport he developed with Rodgers, built up through hours of off-camera conversation. He still cranks up the volume for his favorite spots in the series.
His three kids? Not so much.
“At first, my kids were excited,” said Minnis, who lives in Tempe and operates his own State Farm agency there. “Now they hear it and don’t even turn their heads to look at it.”
State Farm uses real employees in its advertising campaigns. Minnis’s path to fame began in June 2018 with a seemingly inconspicuous audition, over FaceTime, for a role Minnis didn’t even know existed. Although he read for the part he later learned was Rodgers’ insurance agent, it didn’t click for Minnis that he could be featured alongside the NFL star until he received a call the next day saying he had won the job.
Forty-eight hours later, Minnis was on a flight to Los Angeles to begin shooting. He was just the latest real State Farm agent to appear in a stretch of commercials for the company. Minnis spent seven days in Hollywood filming multiple ads that aired throughout the 2018 NFL season and beyond.
“To be honest, I have no idea why they picked me, it’s total luck,” Minnis said. “I’m glad they did, but I didn’t do anything special.”
The success of the commercials prompted the continuation of the series for the 2019 season, this time with the addition of Mahomes, the league’s reigning MVP. For Minnis, this meant he would continue in his role for a second year, a rarity among agents lucky enough to be on camera. It also meant that Minnis would rub shoulders with not one but two of the NFL’s brightest stars, which was intimidating even for a seasoned vet like Minnis.
Rodgers and Mahomes have taken home NFL Most Valuable Player trophies in the past five years. But Minnis said the shoots could not have gone better, with both quarterbacks making him comfortable on the set.
“Aaron Rodgers couldn’t have been nicer … Patrick Mahomes, this year he joined the crew, and he couldn’t have been nicer either,” Minnis said. “It was great, because I’m just a State Farm agent, this guy’s an actor (David Haydn-Jones who plays Gabe, Rodgers’ sports agent), this guy’s probably the best quarterback ever (Rodgers) and this other guy probably will be the best quarterback ever (Mahomes). For them all to be nice is hitting the jackpot.”
The success of the series has allowed the commercials producers to get especially creative with their ideas. One of Minnis’s personal favorites was a commercial dubbed “Gabe’s Worst Nightmare,” which places the foursome in a sort of dystopian football dream.
“The production company did a great job with that one,” Minnis said. “We actually shot it at the football stadium where the Chargers play now. We shot that at midnight. They had the fog and all that. It was pretty cool how they did it, and the way it came out was awesome.”
Through the entire process, Minnis said his favorite bi-product of the commercials has been the friends and family reaching out after seeing his face on their screens. He can be hard to catch if you’re not looking for him, but when people do, Minnis said, they’re typically some combination of shocked and excited to now be friends with a bona fide celebrity.
“That was the best part of it – last year more so – was that people that I haven’t talked to for 20 years reached out, especially on Facebook, because they saw me and were like ‘What are you doing,'” Minnis said. “That was cool because I’m from Louisiana, and I also worked in North Carolina, so all those people, people I haven’t talked to in so long, reached out. So it was a lot of fun.”
One of those people to reach out was Arte Richard, an old friend from his days in Lafayette, Louisiana, where Minnis had gotten early experience in front of cameras.
The two were co-workers at KATC, Lafayette’s ABC affiliate, where Minnis was a sportscaster and Richard the creative services director. The duo produced a string of commercial spots for the station, Minnis’s first exposure to a world he never imagined he would re-enter.
“First of all, he’s like the nicest guy you could ever hope to meet,” Richard said of Minnis. “It’s really cool that this has happened to him because it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.”
Minnis spent 10 years at KATC, eventually moving on to pharmaceutical sales before settling in Arizona with State Farm. He fondly remembers his early days as a sportscaster but is happy to now have a job that allows him to never miss a sporting event or dance recital by one of his kids, who are 12, 14 and 18.
Even if they won’t watch his commercials.
“It’s funny because I was a sportscaster for so long, and my goal was to make it to national TV,” Minnis said. “Show you how funny life is, I became a State Farm agent and I made it to national TV.”