When Mayhem Strikes – A Brand Love Story

“When Mayhem strikes.”
What’s that mean to you?
If you saw “When mayhem strikes” a couple years ago, it would probably mean a polar bear loose at a zoo or a police chase involving Bruce Willis. Today it means something different. Mayhem is personified by a guy in a torn up suit who explodes, falls off of buildings and down stairs, and causes extreme damage to property in general.

That was a bold and personal move by Allstate in their branding. I’m sure their marketing department did quite a bit of research before making that move. It could have easily backfired in a Twitter hashtag fail of #McDStories proportions  There could have been – and probably are – stories on Twitter of mayhem which happened when someone had a problem and called Allstate for help. What they did by airing those commercials was make a promise: When Mayhem comes visiting, we’re there for you. That promise couldn’t just be marketing fluff in today’s world. If it was an empty promise then they’d be called out for it in a big way. Insurance claims can bring about images of Mr. Incredible fighting with his boss to give an old lady benefits then getting fired for punching the guy through a wall. If they’re not going to help or pay up then there’s always Flo and her massive marketing budget at Progressive I could go to – this is big money and a big battleground.  If the brand isn’t more than just a slogan then customers will leave. That needs to be backed up by a culture which provides backing for someone who’s received a visit from Mayhem.
I’m an Allstate customer and have had Mayhem come calling a few times since signing on with them many years ago. In an earlier house I had a lightning strike damage some electronics. I’ve had hail damage my roof. A couple years ago, a 30” diameter healthy oak tree was snapped like a toothpick by gale force wind sheer and fell on my deck. This weekend, I had more mayhem.

At 8:00 Saturday morning, my wife and I heard her visiting parents get up and start getting ready for the day in our spare bedroom. We could clearly hear the shower going. Around 8:30, my father in law knocked on our bedroom door. They thought WE were showering. He’d found that instead, a pipe on a sink had burst and run free for half an hour. He cut it off and called me to kill water to the whole house. There was ankle-deep water in the basement storage room. Mayhem had come calling.

Our reaction from Allstate was, as usual, aggressive. Yes, we received aggressive response from our insurance company. They weren’t challenging us though. The lady who answered the call attacked the problem with some empathy. She checked to see if we were OK and got someone out to assess the damage in a matter of a few hours. She also called back to make sure we understood our coverage and ensure that their contracted service had indeed showed up. She emailed me a form to itemize damaged property so that I didn’t miss anything. The people handling the damage were also highly professional, friendly, and polite. They were an extension of Allstate’s brand and were very consistent. Keep in mind that all this was on a Saturday and the crew to start the drying process were in my house as soon as we could let them in.
Mayhem and Flo
Mayhem and Flo make a cute couple. My money’s on Mayhem though.
Of course, this comes full circle to the brand promise I talked about. One of my friends made a lighthearted joke about Mayhem on Facebook which gave me a much needed laugh. This also brought to mind a picture I’d seen just a couple weeks earlier. Another friend dressed up as Mayhem for a Halloween party. His wife went as Flo from Progressive. I’m sure that I could save a couple bucks a month with Flo. What I’m not sure of is if Progressive will have my back like Allstate has. While I like Flo’s spunk, I’m willing to pay to make sure I’m covered if my hot water heater gets launched through my roof and I’m willing to talk about it.

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