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Media Mixing Keeps Allstate in Good Hands

  • “People still watch TV—a lot of it.”

Sanjay Gupta


In an age of constant brand refresh, companies like Allstate are increasingly rare. Allstate stands firm on one message (“You’re in Good Hands with Allstate”) delivered via two main campaigns: one featuring Dennis Haysbert’s comforting, iconic baritone delivering the familiar slogan, and the newer “Mayhem” advertisements utilizing “worst case scenario” humor to drive home the need for top-notch insurance coverage.

How does Allstate keep managing to find new angles on one theme while other brands are perpetually pivoting? The answer exists somewhere in the brain of Sanjay Gupta, EVP of Marketing, Innovation, and Corporate Relations for Allstate. One element is simply the strength of the message, combined with the adage of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Another is Sanjay’s deep understanding of media mixing: utilizing a variety of methods for delivering the message in order to keep it engaging year in and year out. We also discussed some of Allstate’s most successful recent initiatives and what all marketers can learn from them.

What role does TV play in your marketing mix? Do you see that changing in the near term?

TV allows us to tell our brand story. For example, we debuted a powerful brand ad titled “We Still Climb” that helped us launch our new brand idea that Allstate doesn’t just protect people when something goes wrong, but also helps them to live a good life every day. As part of that effort, we’re leveraging our TV advertising to highlight Allstate’s innovative products and features. These include proven ones like our Safe Driving Bonus Checks, as well as new ones such as our QuickFoto Claim and Drivewise smart phone apps.

As far as our marketing mix goes, people still watch TV—a lot of it. Though we continue to increase the percentage of our digital media as consumer media consumption evolves, we’ve found that a combination of media types usually yields the best results.

You have two very different campaigns with the Mayhem and Dennis Haysbert ads. What is the strategy behind these two initiatives?

The good news is they work very well together, each campaign complementing and working off one another. Mayhem disrupts and reminds people that all insurance is not the same, so they need to be careful in terms of who they choose for their protection needs. Dennis reinforces why Allstate is the compelling choice to protect everything that’s important to you. While we know that each campaign continues to work very well individually, collectively the effect is even greater.

A lot of marketers change campaigns every couple of years. This doesn’t seem to be the case in the insurance category and certainly not with Allstate. Why is that? Are there specific signals you look for to determine if just an ad or an entire campaign has worn out its welcome?

If you have a campaign that continues to prove successful, and becomes even more successful with time, then changing for change’s sake is not what’s best for the brand and the business. Of course we measure and constantly watch for wearout and diminishing effectiveness. But part of the reason “You’re in Good Hands” has remained one of the most recognized taglines in America is because we haven’t changed it in fifty years. And while the message remains consistent, we are constantly introducing new features and different ways in which we tell our story about Allstate while also leveraging the equity that Dennis and Mayhem have built.

What are some recent ways you’ve innovated the core message to build the Allstate brand?

Our most recent accomplishment that I’m most proud of—and it’s actually still a work in progress—kicked off in September when we launched a breakthrough program and accompanying ad campaign to reach consumers and customers who represent what we’re calling “New Households.” These are people who are contending with life “firsts,” such as a new car, house, baby, or combination of these. With these things come new uncertainties—car repairs, home maintenance, questions about financial security, etc.—that today’s young families are typically not prepared to address. These consumers typically turn to a trusted inner circle of friends and family for advice. Yet, faced with bigger dilemmas and decisions than ever before, they’re finding these “experts” sometimes lack the resources or skills to help solve them.

So Allstate is offering tangible solutions, expertise, and savings to help New Households get things right the first time. Things like a free one-year membership to Angie’s List, assistance finding reputable real estate agents, discounts on infant and child car seats, and more. The campaign includes a combination of national and local TV, radio, digital media, print, social media, and PR, and it leads with real life, not insurance. It depicts the reality of being a young family versus the perception you may have had of how perfect life would be.

How important is mobile marketing to your brand and what does it encompass?

More than 50 percent of people are now accessing the Web through mobile phones, so clearly you can’t ignore mobile. We do extensive work not only in terms of mobile optimizing our Web presence and our applications, but we also do quite a bit of marketing on mobile platforms. And we also leverage mobile to create new product features such as our QuickFoto Claim app and our Digital Locker home inventory app.

Further reading:

Jeanne Bliss, Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action

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