Mayhem is nowhere in sight in Droga5's first work for Allstate

Dennis Haysbert returns as narrator of quirky new spots

Published On
Sep 21, 2020

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Allstate's new agency Droga5 is bringing a quirkier tone to the insurance giant's advertising—and it's doing so without using the company's long-running Mayhem campaign. 

In interviews last week, Allstate executives were vague about the future of Mayhem, the long-celebrated effort first unleashed by previous shop Leo Burnett in 2010 featuring the comedic mischief of the character played by actor Dean Winters. Mayhem ads last ran on TV in early June, according to ad-tracking service iSpot. When asked about the campaign's status, Allstate Chief Creative Officer David Hernandez only said Winters “is a great partner.”

With the new ads, Allstate still wants its customers to know they’re "in good hands"—its long-running tagline that predates Mayhem—but also that those hands can do more to help during the current economic and COVID-laced climate.

The campaign is led by two 60-second TV spots debuting today that are similar to previous marketing in that they use a pair of open palms and the text “You’re in good hands.” However, the commercials are quirkier than previous efforts and also meant to make consumers aware that Allstate offers more than just home and auto insurance—it sells identity and mobile phone protection as well. In one spot, a woman literally rolls out of bed, outside and down the street as she picks up more and more physical protection from the objects around her.

“This is the feeling of total protection,” Dennis Haysbert, Allstate’s longtime spokesman, says in a voiceover. In another spot, objects ranging from Jello molds to full grocery bags remain forgotten on a car roof as a driver safely steers through streets.

“We want people to thrive, we want them to live with confidence,” says Elizabeth Brady, who joined Allstate as chief marketing officer two years ago, noting the renewed importance of electronic devices for consumers during the pandemic. “We will be there to protect them like we have for so many years—we’re leaning further into that.”

 

Building consumer awareness around the broader-based business offerings of Allstate is crucial for the company right now as competitors cut rates. State Farm and Progressive have reduced their auto insurance rates as consumers drive less and stay home because of COVID-19 lockdowns and shelter-in-place-type orders. Initially during the pandemic, Allstate had also cut its rates, but last month, the insurer said it will no longer provide rebates and cuts. Instead, the company is relying on its suite of protection products to distinguish itself.

“Today, a customer can come to Allstate and get more protection for the things that are important for their lives,” says Brady.

Allstate execs hope that the quirkier tone and memorable music—one of the new spots is set to Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day”—will set the brand apart from the clutter in the insurance industry in which brands blanket the airwaves and digital ecosystem with billions of dollars worth of ads annually. Allstate is the nation's 57th-largest advertiser, shoveling out $854 million in 2019, according to the Ad Age Datacenter. Competitor State Farm spent $1.2 billion on advertising last year, while Progressive shelled out $1.8 billion and GECIO spent $1.6 billion.

“There is a certain charm and reassurance and optimism in everything we’re trying to put out,” says David Droga, founder and creative chairman of Accenture Interactive-owned Droga5. “In a category that’s all playing the same formula that was very liberating.” Droga5 won the account in April after a review that also included Wieden+Kennedy. The agency shift came months after Allstate cut ties with Leo Burnett, which had held the account for decades.

The new spots will air in 60-,30-,15-and 6-second versions on national TV, OTT and social media platforms. Allstate expects that the new marketing will also provide more runway to tackle other subjects.

“The category competitors do have relatively rigid campaign constructs built around critters and characters,” says Hernandez, likely referring to creative devices like GEICO's gecko and Progressive's Flo (Mayhem would also certainly fall in that category.) “We needed a campaign framework that gave us a lot more freedom to tell all of the interesting stories to tell going forward.”  

Last year, Allstate hired Hernandez, an Ogilvy veteran, to beef up its internal creative agency. At the time, the insurer appeared to be giving more marketing work to Hernandez and his 200-person team, even while diversifying the company’s agency roster beyond long-time partner Leo Burnett to include 72andSunny. Then in April, Allstate tapped Droga5 to helm creative duties, which the agency has spearheaded for the new campaign, according to Hernandez. “The creative concepts and production was done by Droga5,” he notes. Starcom handled media duties.

While Haysbert does voice work for the new spots, Hernandez declined to say if he will be in other spots in person, as the actor has been in the past. Haysbert’s more serious campaigns were traditionally balanced out by the comedic mischief of Mayhem, who was created as a device to remind people the trouble they could get into by buying cheap insurance.