Mayhem and Flo have become household names thanks to the persistent commercials by insurance companies Allstate and Progressive. I find the dark and humorous Allstate ads much easier to watch than the bright and quirky Flo ads by Progressive. But is a funny commercial enough to establish a strong ad campaign? Let’s break it down.

In 2011 Allstate spent $239.5 million on TV ads, making them #10 in the top 10 ad spending brands for that year. Progressive, meanwhile, was the number one spender for internet ads. Think about it: which company did you last see on your computer screen? I’d have to go with the starch white banner and big blue letters spelling out Progressive. But commercial-wise, I think it was Mayhem pretending to be a dog during a burglary.

Who remembers a Progressive commercial pre-Flo? Not me. But look at Allstate. They have an entire other set of commercials starring Dennis Haysbert. This isn’t a disadvantage, but it does make me think that Allstate sounds like two different companies, which leads me to another question: with commercial campaigns, is two better than one? Not necessarily. If you went to Allstate’s website, who would you see? Dennis Haysbert of course. After experiencing
mayhem, who would want to see him smirking at you on a website? Head over to Progressive’s website, though, and there’s no doubt who you’re going to see looking back at you with big blue eyes.

Progressive built their campaign around a character, which isn’t a bad thing, but quick question: what’s Progressive’s slogan?

This one made me think quite a bit. If you asked the same question about Allstate, I could throw “You’re in good hands” out there without thinking twice. I could even tell you their other slogan (“Protect yourself from Mayhem, like me”) before I could tell you Progressive’s. Does “Think easier, think Progressive” ring a bell? But what about “You could save hundreds on car insurance by switching to Progressive” and “Now that’s Progressive”? Although they have stayed consistent with Flo, Progressive hasn’t consistently thrown out a line for the audience to remember them by. Allstate has been using “You’re in good hands” since the 1950s. They only started asking “Are you in good hands?” in 2004: a perfect change for them because they barely had to change at all.

The competition is tight, but for me Allstate wins it. The determining factor: Mayhem’s Facebook. Although Flo has a Facebook and Twitter, they both contain the same posts and her Facebook does not look like a two-way street. I couldn’t find a post by anyone other than Flo. However, Mayhem’s Facebook is full of posts by him and tons of other people reporting the mayhem they’ve endured. The best part: he comments on all of them. One of my favorite posts read: “Yo, Mayhem. The second car hitting my car after the crash was a nice touch. Just sayin’” and the first comment: “I didn’t think anyone was watching that” from Mayhem himself.

Another wise comment from Mayhem

At the end of the day, all jokes aside, people want to be assured that they are in good hands. Allstate has Dennis Haysbert for that.