What Happened to Allstate's 'Mayhem' Campaign?
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‘Mayhem,’ played by actor Dean Winters, has been an advertising boon for Allstate, with the commercials racking up millions of views across Youtube and social media platforms.
Each of the ads follows a very similar formula. Mayhem appears wearing a suit, but looking a little beaten up. He identifies the risk he is portraying, before creating a disaster for an unwitting driver or homeowner.
The commercials end with Mayhem warning viewers that they should buy insurance from Allstate, rather than “cut-rate” policies which don’t provide adequate coverage.
Americans have been enjoying Mayhem’s commercials for over 10 years, but if rumors are to be believed, we’ve seen the last of him.
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Allstate’s ‘Mayhem’ campaign was largely a success.
A brief history of Mayhem
Mayhem was created by advertising agency Leo Burnett Worldwide in 2010. The chaotic character was inspired by Harvey Keitel’s portrayal of Mr. White, in the 1992 film “Reservoir Dogs.”
Like Mr. White, Mayhem always wears a suit, but has an air of menace about him. He almost always appears with bruises, scratches, and bandaids on his face, and he clearly revels in chaos!
Since the very beginning, Mayhem has been played by actor Dean Winters. The character was designed to be the polar opposite of Allstate’s existing campaign, which featured the refined and trustworthy Dennis Haysbert.
Haysbert still appears in Allstate commercials, but he speaks to an older, more traditional customer base, whereas Mayhem targeted a younger demographic.
Allstate were undoubtedly swayed by successful campaigns run by their competitors, which also relied on humor. GEICO, State Farm, and Progressive had all spent big on comedic company mascots, and Allstate set their sights on crashing the party.
Referring to Progressive’s fictional salesperson, a spokesperson for Leo Burnett said “We wanted to kick Flo’s ass.” The mission was successful; by mid-2011, only a year after launch, the Mayhem campaign had won around 80 industry awards.
Who is Dean Winters?
Dean Winters was the 46 year old actor selected to play Mayhem in 2010. He excelled in the role, right up until Mayhem’s last appearance in 2020.
When he was chosen to represent Allstate, Winters had already appeared in Sex and the City, NYPD Blue, Oz, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, CSI: Miami, and 30 Rock, so he was a familiar face, if not a household name.
Following his role as Mayhem, Winters continued to find work in television. He has also starred in a handful of movies and regularly performs standup comedy.
Allstate’s Mayhem campaign sidelined
As reported by Ad Age, there has been no sign of Mayhem since early June 2020. Allstate wouldn’t say if the character is gone forever, but the agency behind the campaign no longer works with them.
Ad Age points out that Mayhem wasn’t the only character to get shelved in 2020, with Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben both being retired.
Unlike those two however, Mayhem was not dropped due to public outcry. In fact, Allstate execs recently called Dean Winters a “great partner,” suggesting he could make a return to our screens in the future.
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