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Originally established for times when I needed more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing or media.

All good for Allstate


UPDATE 5-31-2012: Allstate is updating its YouTube channel, and “Tree Branch” and “Puppy” are not yet available.

ED’S NOTE: The analysis here reflects my interest in advertising as a marketing student. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers.

Who would’ve thought Allstate (NASDAQ: ALL) could make insurance funny?

The “Mayhem Is Coming” spots have been out for a while now, but because I work nights, I rarely seem them as they air. Shows I recorded on the DVR in June are new to me now in August, likewise for the ads, so I’m just getting around to writing about these Allstate series. The ads are humorous, a bit dark, and most of all, effective, featuring actor Dean Winters in the character of Mayhem.

My favorite is the “Pink SUV” clip — mostly because texting teenage-girl drivers in SUVs are my greatest fear. In a mere 30 seconds, Winters and his pink SUV persuade me to double-check my own insurance policy and log on to Allstate.com to see what they can do for me.

The nearly ridiculous “Jogger” spot has Winters sporting a pink headband as “Mayhem the Hot Babe,” who distracts the driver, causing him to run into a light pole. (That’s some headband!) I’ve seen this ad a dozen times, and it still makes me chuckle. There’s just something really funny to me about a man in pink and a car crashing into a light pole.

Although Allstate has a friendly face in their spokesman, actor Dennis Haysbert, it’s nice to see the “Good Hands” people take a shot at funny. They would have to, considering that Geico has expanded its advertising gimmicks beyond its ever-irritating little lizard. (That said, I do remember the lizard ads — and the product — so Geico’s money is obviously well-spent at the Martin Agency.) The Allstate ads even take swipes at Geico (“15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance”) and Progressive (“Name Your Price”). The “Large Espresso” spot features Mayhem as an angry executive who slams on the brakes causing Joe Public to ram into the executive’s sleek Jaguar. In an ominous whisper, Mayhem says, “Your 15-minute insurance may not cover my $90,000 car, so I sue you because that’s what I do.”

In the “Tree Branch” clip, Mayhem is a “random wind storm” that warns us, “If you named your own price on car insurance, you could be picking up this tab yourself.”

I’m not sure if I’d call the “Mayhem is Coming” series viral, but it certainly has its share of fans on YouTube. At the time of this writing, “Pink SUV” had more than 93,000 views, “Tree Branch” 80,000 views, and “Large Espresso” had nearly 63,000. The 15-second “Puppy” clip had been viewed more than 111,000 times. (“I’m the puppy that ate your back seat.”)

That’s a lot eyeballs wanting to see what Mayhem is up to. He’s dark, funny, and he makes us a little bit afraid — all in all, a very persuasive product character.

Agency: Leo Burnett, the geniuses that brought us product characters such as the Marlboro Man, Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam.

Author: Jacqui Barrineau

Jacqui Barrineau is a writer and editor who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., with husband Trey, a Shetland Sheepdog and two unhelpful-but-funny cats. Her work has appeared in "So to Speak" and "Calliope," and she's a regular contributor to the flash-fiction sites Paragraph Planet and Doorknobs & Bodypaint. Once upon a time, she was the audience engagement editor at USA Today. Now she does other fun things that involve advertising, marketing and social media. The views expressed here and in other outlets are hers, not her clients'. Outside of work, she's proud to serve on the Northern Virginia Community College Marketing Advisory Committee. As a committee member, she joins industry leaders in lending their knowledge and expertise to ensure the college's Marketing curriculum is relevant and responsive to the needs of the students and the surrounding business communities.