Chapter 6 of Social Communication in Advertising discusses the shift from advertisements focusing on gratification from the product itself toward lifestyle-based advertisements. In lifestyle advertising, the product becomes “a totem, a representation of a clan or group” (200) that we, as consumers, can become part of the moment we identify ourselves with that brand and make a purchase. I think that this could be particularly interesting in cases where the advertisers must sell a product that is not actually a physical thing, and so I decided to look at an Allstate commercial:

    In order to successfully sell a particular lifestyle, companies must establish a product identity, which can be particularly useful when trying to sell a product in a market that is saturated with similar products, as well as to ensure a consumer market for future products. This ad achieves this through using personification, forming an association, and pitching a slogan.
Although, in this particular ad, the male actor is performing the role of a female, teen driver, the advertisers assume that the viewer is bringing prior knowledge of the campaign to this ad, and relying on the fact that we know this man as “Mayhem”. Although he is not a personification of the product, itself, he is a personification of the very thing that the product will protect the consumer from: chaos, accidents-inevitable mayhem. Giving mayhem human characteristics allows the advertisers to shape it as a tangible being that is mischievous and sneaky, something that is lurking out in the world waiting to prank any unlucky person that isn’t yet protected. It counter-argues against the person that says “I won’t get insurance and hope for the best; a tree isn’t likely to fall on my house and I probably won’t get into a car accident” because, the Allstate campaign suggests, those things will happen as long as Mayhem is out there.
Not only this ad, but the entire campaign associates its insurance product with relief. The ads instill a sense of fear; they do not promise that bad things will not happen. In fact, they promise the exact opposite. Bad things will happen, but they can be less bad if they don’t take as great a toll on you financially, and if you can easily replace the material things that were damaged. Additionally, this ties very closely in with the slogan.
By associating its insurance with a strong sense of safety, Allstate taps into a feeling that is widely desired across many different kinds of people. The slogan “Are You in Good Hands?” makes the consumer felt taken care of, safe, and as if he/she has some element of control over the uncontrollable.
Through these three tactics, Allstate successfully brands itself as fitting into the kind of lifestyle that a young yet responsible individual might find him/herself in. This lifestyle is for the people that are not afraid to laugh a little at the inevitability of accidents, and can find a bit of humor in either their mistakes, others’ mistakes, or simply bad luck.

Advertisements