Allstate’s Newest @Mayhem Effort Depicts The Dark Side Of DIY, With Stories Unearthed Online

The insurance company highlights real-life stories of Mayhem, asking people to vote for their favorite via social media.

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2016-01-13_16-43-24Allstate’s campaigns as of late have revolved around its “Mayhem” character, a snarky know-it-all who seems to always be present when things go wrong — sometimes terribly wrong. Allstate’s message, of course, is that it will be around to help you pick up the pieces if you’ve purchased its insurance.

The company’s apparently decided that the imaginary scenarios it’s been depicting thus far aren’t realistic enough, so, in its latest installment, it’s sought out real-life tales about DIY projects gone wrong. The idea behind the “Mayhem DIY” effort is that one of the most dangerous sources of trouble in people’s homes is their own often misguided attempts to fix or build things. Rather than soliciting real-life contributions from the public, though, it scoured the internet itself, eventually selecting four stories about home “improvement” projects that turned out to be anything but improvements.

It’s Allstate’s clever nod to one of the most popular genres of online videos — the “How To” DIY video — which often give homeowners the false confidence to tackle projects that they’re not really prepared to take on. Allstate’s videos for the campaign also appear on YouTube, as well as on other social media platforms. Leo Burnett was reportedly behind the creative.

The call to action on all the creative asks people to check their homeowners’ insurance policy to verify whether they’re covered for such mishaps. If they’re not, they’re urged to call their insurance agents and update their policies. As the Mayhem character says in some of the campaign videos, if you’re not covered,”You could be DIY’ing these payments yourself.”


“A home is the biggest investment most people make in their lifetimes and our agents play an important role in helping customers get an insurance policy with coverage to meet their needs,” said Pam Hollander, vice president of marketing for Allstate Insurance Company, in a statement. “Through these new commercials, Mayhem helps spotlight some vulnerabilities people face when attempting a project to improve or renovate their home and highlights the importance of understanding your coverage.”

The tone of the videos could strike some viewers as condescending, however, as they characterize handy homeowners as having “all of the enthusiasm and optimism [of a professional] with none of the skill or ability.” With a message like that, rather than buying insurance, people could be inspired to drop DIY projects altogether.

Allstate brought these real-life stories to video by creating re-enactments of the events it unearthed online, including its Mayhem character in a bid to inject humor. In an introduction, he falls through a ceiling, blows out light fixtures and plunges through a stair railing.

After introducing the four DIY storytellers — via “teaser” TV ads during college football bowl games and through organic social media posts — Allstate has asked people to vote via Twitter or at the MayhemDIY microsite, with the result of the vote determining which of the DIY scenes would be played out to its conclusion.

People were incentivized to cast their votes by being entered into a sweepstakes for participating — a winner was randomly chosen each hour to receive a tool set, and one grand prize winner was awarded a $25,000 Lowe’s gift card, along with the tools depicted in the winning ad.

On Twitter, users were asked to vote using one of four hashtags:

  • #PipeMayhem #Sweepstakes for Leanne’s Dad
  • #DrainMayhem #Sweepstakes for Chris
  • #TreeMayhem #Sweepstakes for Caleb
  • #ToiletMayhem #Sweepstakes for Julianna

The Mayhem character spread the word online via his own Twitter account with posts like these:

Meanwhile, the original storytellers were also sharing info about the contest, seeking votes for their own tales.

Perhaps understandably, these tales of DIY Fails inspired other folks to share their own mishaps via Twitter, as part of their sweepstakes entries.

After all the voting was done, Caleb Gauff, aka #TreeMayhem guy, got the most votes, so the video depicting his fail in its entirety was shown during the telecast of the college football National Championship game played on Monday night.

About the author

Pamela Parker
Pamela Parker is Research Director at Third Door Media's Content Studio, where she produces MarTech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager, Senior Editor and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She's a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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