Throughout the course of history, the ownership of car insurance has been something very important due the impact of cars on the everyday lives of people. The reason it is so important nowadays is because of the sheer amount of people who drive coupled with how often one must drive to get from place to place. With television as its means of transmitting its message to folks across the United States, Allstate’s series of car insurance commercials demonstrates some of the most effective uses of rhetoric on current television by utilizing the strategies of symbolism, kairos, and a mixture of both logical and emotional appeals. The series of commercials features famous actor Dean Winters who depicts various objects of unfortunate circumstance that may rear their heads whilst one is driving at any given time.
While all of these commercials share this common theme that is entitled “Mayhem”, the circumstances themselves vary in both type and believability. For example, in one of the commercials, Dean Winters depicts a deer who is curious about some object laying on the road, walks out onto the road to investigate said object, and is paralyzed by fear when the headlights of an oncoming car shines upon it. The car smashes into Dean Winters and is completely totaled as a result. Dean Winters, who now is representing a dead deer, looks to the camera and delivers his spiel about how one may not be covered if they got a low, flat rate or if they picked their own price. This is significant because low, flat rates and pick your own price are two strategies employed by other competing car insurance companies.
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In another mayhem commercial, Dean Winters plays a football player who has a poor sense of direction. After getting his team fired up, he accidentally leads them onto a busy road which causes a distracted driver to crash. One can see how these commercials have varying impacts because one is very realistic while the other is very unlikely to happen in a real life situation. In all of the depicted scenarios, whether they have a significant chance of happening or not, the use of rhetoric is very potent as Allstate attempts to sway viewers into purchasing its car insurance. First, the commercials are directed at a wide range of people as they are played on major TV stations like NBC, CBS, and ABC. They also are shown during regular programming as well as major events that bring in thousands of people like NFL football games and NBA basketball games.
Second, it is evident that the commercials use kairos because a higher volume of the commercials is played in the winter when driving is significantly more dangerous. They also utilize a very effective strategy in using a comedic appeal to make people aware of situations that they may not have been thinking about previously whilst making the commercials memorable. This is a common theme across every one of the mayhem commercials. Fortunately, the commercials are able to take a serious topic such car accidents and make it comical or else these commercials could be viewed as insensitive and actually cause the company to lose customers instead of gaining them. Continuing from the previous statement, these commercials are advertisements in the end, and they do a good job of trying to get people to switch from their current insurance companies to AllState.
While they may not cause every person who views them to switch companies, they provoke people to think about their current policies and coverage. This is a powerful tool because it means that some people will switch insurance companies completely of their own accord as opposed to other forms of advertisement which basically say “Buy our products or else”. Instead, the commercials set out to make AllState look like it has identified a common problem across the country and has the exclusive knowledge of how to solve the problem due to the identification. However, beyond all of the blatantly obvious strategies and implications of the commercial are the underlying meanings and thoughts that it would like to convey to the people.
Dean Winters in all of the commercials is meant to symbolize mayhem and its spontaneity. Regardless of the source of mayhem whether it be a natural occurrence or human error, he makes it clear that mayhem answers to no human and can happen upon anyone at any given time. Since people are indeed aware of situations that are out of human control, it puts a kind of fear or paranoia into their minds.
They also utilize a logical appeal in the sense that if one is afraid of these seemingly random occurrences of mayhem, then he/she would switch to AllState because they identified the problem as well as guaranteed coverage from the occurrences should they happen to someone after watching the commercials. They at the very least strongly urge people to take action in regard to their insurance policies if they have the opportunity to change it for the better. In addition, the use of emotional appeal is a prominent in the series of commercials as well. On a few different occasions, Dean Winters represents a person who is driving with his/her family. He has also played the role of a teenage girl distraught after finding out that her best friend has a crush on the same guy she likes. These particular commercials are especially effective because no person wants to lose hundreds and thousands of dollars when they have a family to support as well.
At that point, they would be putting their family at financial risk which would make them look like bad parents. In other situations, the mayhem that is inflicted onto unsuspecting people causes multiple things to be destroyed. For example, a man is trying to fix a satellite in one of the situations.
Dean Winters, who plays the satellite, talks about how the man wants to hurry and fix the satellite for the big game that day. While trying to fix it, the man inadvertently makes the satellite shaky, and because it becomes structurally unsound, it falls off of the roof of the house and lands upon the man’s nice looking car. The use of a nice car instead of just a decent car implies that it is both more expensive and more meaningful to the man.
This in particular is a demonstration of the pathos strategy of rhetoric. The commercial wants viewers to feel sorry for the man whose nice possessions have been destroyed. For this reason, anyone who watches the commercial as well as the man would undoubtedly want insurance that would cover said possessions in every situation because the average family/person does not have the pocket money to replace cars at any time it wants to.
The use of rhetoric is becoming more and more evident in today’s society as it seems that people must try harder to get people to believe the same things that they do. While thinking about the uses of rhetoric in everyday life may be rare, it is a strong force that, when used in the correct way, has a myriad of uses and applications. AllState’s mayhem commercials demonstrate the correct use of rhetoric because they are not forceful, they instill a kind of urgency into the viewers, they use a variety of different situations that may or may not be relevant to certain groups of people, and they use different appeals to sway people into thinking about their insurance including emotional and logical appeal. Hence, AllState’s series of mayhem commercials demonstrates some of the most effective rhetoric on television.