The Method Behind the Mayhem

Published on in Miscellaneous

ADmerica Keynote about changing the insurance conversation.

Susan Credle, CCO, Leo Burnett

Lisa Cochrane, SVP, Marketing, Allstate.

Cochran helped transform Allstate’s marketing & believes she has a responsibility to improve the lives of customers.

"It’s all about changing the conversation so we are leading it."

Back in 2010, Allstate’s “summer campaign ” wanted to inject some life into the company. Something was happening in the world of insurance though - Progressive and Geico was geared towards a younger audience, using humor to commoditize the business. But if you go with the lowest price, you run the risk of being under insured in times of crisis. People didn’t know they weren’t covered. Allstate and Leo Burnett have been partners for 50+ years. 

Agency concept pitches used to be this big ‘ta-da’ reveal, but now it’s so much more collaborative from the get-go. There’s always a ‘junk board’ up to help with brainstorming ideas. It’s how “Mayhem is everywhere” was born.

"We knew we had something…because it made some people uncomfortable," Lisa Cochrane, SVP, Marketing, Allstate said. "Heck, it even made ME a little uncomfortable — but that’s when you know you have something." 

Phil Morissen was the shooter, and with asking an actor to play a different role each time, they needed to pick a brilliant one. They wanted to spend more on casting.  

"It was great when we came across Dean Winters (He was the bad guy in "Oz," and funny guy from "30 rock") so it was a perfect blend of mischief and charm," said Cochrane.

Winters: “It’s ironic because I became actor so I wouldn’t have to put on suit and sell insurance.”

Initially, we wanted to launch in 2 1/2 to 3 months, but since we had a bunch of cuts, we decided to launch with teasers to introduce “Mayhem.” The loud thunderclap that brought attention - was a little ominous too. We got a lot of feedback, not all positive..it makes these kind of campaigns vulnerable. You can get bullied into decisions at times (and we thought they’d pull the campaign)…but they then figured out that Mayhem should not destroy on purpose. We pulled old teasers and replaced with the 30-second spot (puppy, girl jogging etc.)

The montage was actually easier to cut than a full story. “Omg, Becky’s not even hot” t-shirts were sold, Mayhem went from an old fashioned word to one used everywhere, and now Mayhem is even an action figure. It’s also been one of the most popular Halloween costumes.

He’s done incredibly well in social as well. Example, Facebook status: “It was a car on car high five” from the same writers used for the video. Their job is to keep him cool. Facebook Status during Super Bowl blackout: “I meant to turn off switchboard. Sorry, everybody. Wrong switch.”

Allstate’s Mayhem was one of first brands to embrace the timeline on Facebook with the intricately detailed storyboard that carries through.

Allstate did radio spots as well, in places that would be difficult to film and created the spot to be super relevant to each local area. Ex: Chicago pigeons ‘causing Mayhem’ in Chicago markets. They actually produced more than 3,000 radio commercials. 

What’s next for Mayhem? He’s going into the home now…a cultural nuance they found was that in Latino culture, when bad things happen its blamed on bad luck - hence the spin-off commercials.

The audience also got a first look at the new “grandma” spot, which was hilarious. 

Mayhem not going anywhere, but Allstate is adding new messages as a North Star to focus on the future, and to bring good to customers.

Watch “Good hands for the good life.”

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