Brand: Allstate (+ NASCAR)
Link: Click Here – It is the fifth spot entitled “Girls Day Out”
Target: Beer Drinkers
Rating: * (for Allstate)/ **** (for NASCAR)
An SUV with four women out for a day at the races is reversing into a parking spot at the racetrack when they spot NASCAR heartthrob Kasey Kahne. The spot moves into slow motion as the women gaze adoringly at Kahne who stares back, smiles and nods. The sound track plays a romantic seventies-type song as we see several of the women with wind blowing in their hair attempting to attract Mr. Kahne. The slow-mo and the music abruptly stop with a crash as the SUV backs into a triangular ad tower which collapses and kills a sedan. The voiceover says “Your rates shouldn’t go up just because of an accident. Introducing Allstate Your Choice auto insurance with accident forgiveness.”
This is a very nice spot for NASCAR. Women constitute an important part of the NASCAR fan base and lots of research has shown that most NASCAR fans identify intensely with the drivers rather than the venues or even the sport as a whole. So the right way for NASCAR to promote itself to the faithful is to create interaction with the drivers. This fantasy-fulfillment scenario is made more palatable by an injection of humor at the end (with the crash). NASCAR and Kasey Kahne capture the brand imprint from this spot.
Here are the two major issues with this spot:
Branding â€“ There is one thing worse than leaving your brand unnamed until the last five seconds of a spot; leaving your brand unnamed until the last five seconds of a spot whose first twenty-five seconds are spent building a completely different brand. By ceding most of the spot to the NASCAR message and trying to flip it to Allstate at the end, Allstate fails to make a lasting imprint of their brand in this spot.
Persuasion â€“ There is a selling proposition in this spot â€“ see if you can spot it. Itâ€™s hidden at the end with the description of Allstateâ€™s â€˜Your Choiceâ€™ program, where consumers can apparently be forgiven for an accident and not have their rates raised. This unique selling proposition is not only buried (it shows up in the voiceover near the end and is easy to miss), but it is missing a couple elements. First it lacks a logical link to the premise of the spot itself. It implies that these women should be forgiven for their momentary lack of parking attention as they were distracted by a NASCAR driver. But do we really want to forgive them for being distracted? Isnâ€™t that one of the major causes of accidents? And what if they were backing over a child instead of into a sign tower? Secondly, we donâ€™t really understand the value proposition behind â€œYour Choice.â€ Why are you forgiven accidents in this program? Do you pay a higher rate? Do you have to be a good driver? It is not clear.
The biggest question this spot leaves us with is why Allstate would run a commercial with NASCAR and come up with the short end of this stick. But this is not a NASCAR spot. It is an Allstate spot. In fact, it is very likely that NASCAR did not pay a cent for this commercial which works so effectively builds the NASCAR brand. In April of this year, Allstate announced a multi-year partnership with NASCAR. This includes a race called the â€œAllstate 400 at the Brickyardâ€ as part of the NEXTEL Cup Series. The Allstate Press Release modestly announces that â€œAllstate becomes the first-ever insurance company to officially partner with NASCAR.â€
Funny, that. Why has there never been an insurance company partnership with NASCAR? Lots of people watch NASCAR and it is one of the fastest growing sports in the US. And the sport is all about cars. Allstate insures cars, right? Hmmm.
Perhaps it is because NASCAR is also a sport where cars are driven around an oval at around 200 mph, over three times the legal speed limit. Possibly itâ€™s because there are a lot of spectacular crashes in NASCAR. Perhaps the fact that the fans actually enjoy the crashes (if nobody is hurt) is also relevant. Or the thought that four of the major car sponsors are Budweiser, Miller, Coors and Jack Daniels. Just maybe the symbolism when the race winners douse themselves with alcohol is not ideal.
The real problem with this ad is not the ad at all. Itâ€™s the underlying partnership. NASCAR makes no sense at all for Allstate. So it is not surprising that when the two brands are combined in a TV spot, NASCAR gets the better end of the deal. Because NASCAR has already gotten the better half of the deal with Allstate.
Even seemingly sensible sports partnerships are a tricky game. When Coca-Cola first got into NASCAR with the Coca-Cola 600, exit polls suggested that most of the fans watching the event (which featured a huge bottle of Coke in the center of the race oval) did not remember who sponsored the event. Not even the ones walking out with cups of Coke in their hands. So Coke got smart and created an affiliation with the drivers, who are the heart of NASCAR. All of which goes to say that with sponsorships, your money can be highly leveraged or completely worthless depending on how good the fit is and how well you activate the relationship.
Allstate Chief Marketing Officer Joe Tripodi seems more like a golf and Scuba guy than a NASCAR fanatic, but surely someone in Allstate marketing actually watched NASCAR before they invested in it. Yet they still invested in NASCAR. What were they thinking?
Branding Bottom Line:
Allstate goes on a bender and ends up in bed with NASCAR.