Insurance commercials, in recent years have entered a tighter rat race than even the wireless carriers. Through that race have emerged a cast of characters with followings that even the advertisers didn’t predict.
Although there are several past and present- the Aflac duck, the Geico money stack and the Geico cavemen who were so popular they earned their own TV spin-off- there are two characters that are so popular and recognizable that they are celebrities in their own right.
These Mayhem commercials are without a doubt hilarious. Dean Winters can personify anything from a deer in your headlights to an emotionally-unstable teenage girl with ease in a manner keeps us entertained but focused on the “mayhem.” It is what these personifications do to your car or property, which is important. The scare factor creates a sting in the back of your mind that makes you doubt whether your car is covered if a tree falls on it. Do I have enough coverage? Did I go with the right insurance company? Why did I name my own price?
The agency could have used this same concept, but rotated out the mayhem. They could have used an actual raccoon, a real satellite dish or a supermodel out jogging. But they didn’t, with minimal costuming and often none, Mayhem is able to transform into your blind spot, a snow storm or a quarter back. Mayhem is the consistency in the message. In a disheveled black suit, a bruised face and a single white bandage, we know the eminent, destructive power of his presence. He is the villain, the evil doer from which Allstate must provide protection.
At which point enters the second Allstate character, the white knight. Looking directly into the screen with calm reassurance and deep booming voice, Dennis Haysbert tells us that we will be in good hands with Allstate. He is the knowledgeable protector with information about how to get the best coverage while still staying on budget. He defends us from the unpredictable mayhem that threatens our cars and property.
The choice of actors wasn’t just because the two were the best to audition. Instead the good and evil elements of their characters has been well-established through their acting resume. Dean Winters has played the bad guy in his roles in “30 Rock,” “Oz,” and “Rescue Me.” While Dennis Haysbert has represented the trustworthy, respectable, authority with roles like the U.S. president in “24,” and the Sergeant Major in “The Unit.” Having preconceived ideas about these characters is a wonderful thing because consumers will transfer their opinions about these actors into their Allstate roles. Who thought sponsors could be typecast?
The two work flawlessly together as good and bad. Although they are never seen together in the same commercial, their relationship is clear. The Mayhem spots never end on a destructive note, but are saved with Dennis Haysbert voiceover that tells us how we can protect ourselves when mayhem comes to call.