Six Years of Mayhem

December 12, 2016

By Crystal Albanese

In 2010, Allstate Insurance Company leveraged a character named Mayhem to reveal a singular truth about insurance: You get what you pay for. Six years later, the campaign continues to be a strong performer for Allstate. They’ve leveraged this memorable character even in a constantly changing landscape, showcasing mayhemic moments in social, digital, sports, broadcast, and beyond. 

Presenting at the 2017 ANA Brand Masters Conference, Katherine Roth, senior manager of marketing at Allstate Insurance Company, and David Brot, EVP and account director at Leo Burnett Company, Inc. will share insights into how their Effie award-winning campaign has been so successful for so long. David provides a sneak peek into their presentation below.

Once it was clear the Mayhem campaign was going to be a hit, what are some of the things you did to ensure the momentum kept growing? 
Momentum is a wonderful challenge — it means you have a great creative idea that changes behavior. We always strive to stay true to the core idea and make sure there is relevance in all content we create. We have kept that core idea intact while we continually develop new ways to reach people in new media over the years. Finally, we guard against overexposure and measure for that, to make sure we always leave people wanting more.

When the campaign first launched, some criticized it as a form of fear mongering. Was this ever a concern during the development process? Do you find that fear of perception stifles the ad creative process?
Something bad may happen that you never planned for, and the fact that you may not be covered due to a non-Allstate choice in coverage, is the heart of this idea. Our goal is education — we don’t want people to learn the hard way that you get what you pay for. In other words, buying solely on price without understanding coverage may seem like a good idea now. But later, it could cost you a lot if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have enough coverage.

The way that message is delivered — humorously, with some learning, and a helpful reminder that there is always an Allstate solution to these situations — creates an incredibly rich area of creative tension. In fact, this boundary between what is mayhem and what is not is a major part of the creative process and often fuels it. As a team, we spend lots of time discussing and evaluating what is and is not a mayhemic moment.

How do you take a campaign like Mayhem, which was initially crafted six years ago, and keep it fresh and evolving as media channels change and become more diverse? 

We ask this question constantly. A simple answer is that all Mayhem creative is held to a high engagement and entertainment standard and put through a rigorous review process at the agency and with Allstate, so that it is fresh when released. Beyond that, we always seek to have the audience wanting more, and make sure that too much content is not released at one time.  

As media channels have become more diverse, this has breathed life into the campaign and opened new ways for Mayhem to reach audiences. We worked hard to make sure his introduction to each new medium is Mayhemic, and we make sure to create content tailored for the medium. This is an continuous challenge, so we’ll talk about this at the ANA Brand Masters conference.

Does a campaign like this have a shelf life, or do you intend to ride it for as long as it’s effective?
As long as Mayhem can be an effective teacher that people want to hear from, and as long as he has something new to say that results in people thinking about their coverage and taking action, we’ll continue to deliver Mayhemic content.


To hear from Katherine Roth and more from David Brot, join us at the 2017 Brand Masters Conference, February 1517, 2017, in Dana Point, Calif. Their presentation will focus on how Allstate has kept people laughing, thinking about their insurance coverage, and ultimately choosing Allstate. 

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