Allstate’s Mayhem. A Deeper Look.

Few characters in advertising have the durability and efficacy of “Mayhem.” After the campaign premiered in June 2010, the Mayhem character played by veteran actor Dean Winters was an instant hit.

We first visited the making of Mayhem in 2011 when we spoke with Lisa Cochrane from Allstate and Susan Credle from Leo Burnett. We wrote at the time:

After Allstate’s hugely successful ad campaign, there’s a good chance you picture this guy. In just a few short years the campaign has become an enormous hit. The Facebook Mayhem page has over a million likes and the campaign has been parodied on YouTube and of course endlessly discussed at the water cooler.

Since then, the popularity of Mayhem has only increased. The character’s Facebook page boasts nearly 2 million fans and was ranked by Facebook to be in its top 5 brands globally. Cochrane and Mayhem himself – Dean Winters – sat down in the studio for our latest Marketing Masters segment.

Cochrane discusses the creation of Mayhem, when Allstate decided to change the insurance conversation to remind consumers that protection matters. Cochrane argues that marketers have to compete with the proliferation of “content,” whether it’s user-generated YouTube videos or corporate-sponsored viral videos. And Mayhem did just that. Winters claims that days after the initial airing of the Mayhem commercial, people began calling him Mayhem on the streets. Today, the Mayhem campaign has spawned thousands of TV, digital and radio ads. Even Winters’ mother refers to her son as “Mayhem.”

Whether it’s an oblivious teenage driver, raccoon in your attic, or faulty hot water heater, “Mayhem is everywhere” – all played by Winters, of course. Cochrane and Allstate expanded the successful national campaign into local markets, having Winters play local mayhem such as a Chicago pigeon or Seattle fog.

The Mayhem campaign holds a variety of marketing awards, but one of the most surprising is that Mayhem is among the most-shared corporate characters on all of Facebook. Heavily shared posts remind users that life is full of Mayhem:

“Just wanted to thank you and your wife again for letting my spider babies live in your bedroom… pillow.”

“Yes it was a bad storm. But look on the bright side, now you get that sunroof you always wanted.”

“Please don’t take my aggressive tailgating the wrong way. I’m just more important than you.”

Be sure to watch the full interview with Lisa Cochrane and Dean Winters above.