By Sarah Mahmood (@CuriousSaraM)
Insurance can be a rather morbid topic, one that fails to surface during most conversations. When people do speak of purchases, it’s often related to what they’ve bought at the mall over the weekend, not about policies or coverage. Over the years, the advertising landscape for insurance has continually developed, changing the way people perceive and discuss coverage. Susan Credle, CCO, Leo Burnett and Lisa Cochrane, SVP, Marketing, Allstate, delivered their ADMERICA! 2013 keynote about changing the insurance conversation. Their collaboration on the ‘Mayhem’ campaign serves testament to the open-ended advertising possibilities for topics (primarily insurance) perceived as being adverse and difficult in gaining popularity.
Advertising is all about shifting paradigms. For Credle and Cochrane, the paradigm to combat was a low price point. While saving money is a factor often blindly favored by consumers, both ladies begged to differ in the value of selecting the lowest policy, for fear of being under covered in certain situations. With competitors touting low price point as a means for gaining market share, Allstate had a different story to tell. With the help of long time creative agency of record, Leo Burnett, Allstate sought to change the insurance conversation away from price and towards liability and responsible coverage. Ideas were exchanged and concepts were presented to Allstate. Interestingly enough, as mentioned by Cochrane, the idea that elicited the most uncomfortable feeling when presented, was found as enough of a disrupter to project change in the insurance conversation. As a result, the seedlings of ‘Mayhem’ were planted by Leo Burnett. Liability served as the main underlying theme to help consumers see that the lowest price doesn’t always provide coverage for all situations.
While the main idea was set, casting was the next hurdle to overcome. The search for a brilliant actor lead to mischievous yet charming Dean Winters. Three teasers were released to make audiences aware that Mayhem was coming. These teasers showed several undesirable situations where mayhem unexpectedly struck, leaving audiences to wonder why an insurance company would display such havoc through their advertising. Soon after, to fill the unanswered questions of audiences, these teasers were followed by spots that gave more of an explanation about Mayhem. These spots went past wreaking havoc to humorously show that accidents happen but Mayhem will not knock on the doors of consumers if they are responsible in selecting proper coverage.
Since its initial release, Mayhem has awakened numerous audiences about the importance of being insured. Having successfully changed the insurance conversation away from low price point, Mayhem (and Dean) have become famously branded with Allstate. In current day, even the quality of the Mayhem voice is carefully guarded to maintain brand identity. Allstate’s Mayhem is not just a character but also an idea enforcing responsible coverage to alleviate unforeseen accidents. While advertising lives on many media platforms, Credle shares radio as an example of how Allstate has used localization to play into insights and target accordingly, in addition to national presence. In order for this change in conversation about insurance to arise, it is evident that strong teamwork was at play between agency and client. Kudos to both!
Sara Mahmood is a senior advertising student at Wayne State University and works part-time as a portfolio management associate (assistant media planner) at Universal McCann. She is also a member of the class of 2013 AAF Most Promising Minority Students, has served on the AAF Initiative Future Board and led her local AAF student chapter. Sara will serve as our student blogger at ADMERICA! Follow Sara on Twitter during the conference @CuriousSaraM and #FindSaraM for a chance to introduce yourself and get your photo taken for the AAF Instagram feed.