Mayhem is back—but this time he’s met his match. Allstate's havoc-wreaking character, introduced nearly a decade ago, gets tamed in a new campaign from the insurer helmed by Tina Fey. This is the first time the Mayhem campaign, fronted by actor Dean Winters, has featured a celebrity, other than Winters himself.
In the new TV spots, Fey plays a driver using Drivewise, a nine-year-old product that tracks how carefully someone drives and offers perks accordingly. In one commercial, Winters plays a rambunctious Saint Bernard pup eager to distract the driver; in another, he plays a critical mother-in-law whose cutting remarks provide the same level of distraction as the dog. The celebrity pairing is a reunion; Winters played one of Fey’s boyfriends on "30 Rock" years ago.
“Unlike the previous decade of ads, for the first-time ever, Mayhem has met his match,” says David Hernandez, who joined Allstate from Ogilvy over the summer as its first-ever chief creative officer. In previous Mayhem marketing, the character was always left to his own devices—like true mayhem. Yet the new work is meant to prove that Drivewise can help Allstate customers keep their impulses in check.
Allstate isn’t the only insurer promoting its speed-monitoring app. Earlier this year, State Farm ran a similar ad that showed Kim, a customer, impervious to the anger of a car full of late coworkers or her own birthing labor pains, so intent was she on earning State Farm’s Drive Safe & Save Discount.
Allstate’s new work was a collaboration between the insurer’s more robust internal studio, which Hernandez has been beefing up, and 72 and Sunny. Leo Burnett, which had been a longtime agency partner of the marketer, originally created Mayhem in 2010.
Along with the Fey-Mayhem ads, Allstate is simultaneously airing its campaign featuring longtime spokesman Dennis Haysbert, who promotes the brand as a safe and valuable option for consumers.
Hernandez says new work that was created by Allstate’s internal agency without external partners is forthcoming. This new work, the first solely produced by the in-house team, will emerge later this year. In August, he told Ad Age he was in the process of coming up with a name for the internal department. Several competitors, like Progressive, for example, have named their own agencies—Ninety6, in Progressive’s case. But Hernandez says an agency name is not a top priority.
“I haven’t thought about coming up with a name for a team because we’ve been so focused on all the creative projects,” he says. In fact, the more I think about it, the less I want us to have a ‘brand’ name for our in-house agency—we’re all one Allstate.”