Strangely Free-Range Ad for Insurance

Hi (from Vienna!) readers: This ad is so sane, so Free-Range, it’s making me a little suspicious.Why is an insurance company reminding us about the importance of taking small risks? Is it to make us less lawsuit-happy when something bad happens? Or to get us to buy insurance? (“A car can crash…”) Or maybe Allstate’s ad agency has been reading this blog?  Hmmm. – L.

45 Responses to Strangely Free-Range Ad for Insurance

  1. Linda Wightman June 12, 2013 at 7:39 am #

    I’m no particular fan of Allstate, but that’s a good ad!

  2. Kimberly June 12, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    ok my question is which state doesn’t have poisonous snakes? It has to either be Alaska or Hawaii.

  3. meg June 12, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    That was my question, too, Kimberly. I’m guessing Alaska.

    I love that the ad about taking risks includes at least two “do not attempt” disclaimers!

  4. Earth.W June 12, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    Encouraging people to go out and get injured to either be denied their claim or make money for the insurance company through their claim? Ahh, I’m such a skeptic. LOL

  5. Earth.W June 12, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    My 12 year old daughter heard the video played and said that a lot of people need to be shown this video.

  6. Naomi Mat June 12, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    Made me a little weepy at the end. Good ad!

  7. Warren June 12, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Just record the ad, delete the disclaimers, and allstate crap, and use it to promote FRKs.

    Shhhhhhh, we won’t tell anyone where you got it, Lenore.

  8. lollipoplover June 12, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    This is probably advertising for their Homeowners insurance. Since most of accidents with our generation’s indoor children occur INSIDE the house, they want to encourage our youth to engage in fun, amazing pursuits OUTSIDE of the homeowner’s property. That’s why the girl went out the gate by herself. If your going to get hurt or need insurance, do it on someone else’s property. That way, Allstate can sue other insurances because the accident happened on their turf. Brilliant.

  9. Alicia June 12, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    I loved it :) Maybe we need to have those phrases in our back pocket for when other people tell us we are being too risky. “People get struck by lightning all the time, but we still go out in the rain, right?”

  10. Papilio June 12, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Snakes are reptiles, reptiles need an external heat source to be active (a.k.a. the sun (and I don’t mean that newspaper)), so they don’t like cold areas, so it has to be Alaska. Just my guess.

    @Lollipoplover: Or they’ve read that report on Swedish children having the lowest child injury rate in the world as well and decided US kids need to learn to assess risks to avoid accidents altogether… But I might be optimistic.

  11. pentamom June 12, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    lollipop, it does mention “coming home” and showing people going into their houses, so it’s probably not that.

    More likely, it’s not targeted at any specific behavior they want people to engage in, it’s one of those “image” ads — it makes people feel good about life, and therefore the hope is that they’ll feel good about the company that promoted their good feelings. Also, it is strongly associated with activities and possessions, things you insure. So you will want to make sure that those things are properly insured so that you can enjoy them to the fullest. So it’s a subtle connection, based on associations that are already in people’s minds. That’s how modern marketing works.

  12. anonymous this time June 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Agree with pentamom.

    However, it’s a pretty bold statement, and one that runs extremely counter to the fear-mongering we see nearly everywhere else.

    Can totally imagine Allstate choosing a strategy showing people living a comfortable, safe life, full of warmth, connection, love, closeness, caring, and the endorphin-producing imagery that wires up our brains, then telling us that the way to all of that is through their company.

    So this one is definitely going another route, and certainly one I advocate, as it does its work to encourage brand loyalty by encouraging people to look at risk as an inevitable part of a full and happy life.

  13. anonymous this time June 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Possibly the closest thing we’ll ever get to a “corporate endorsement,” eh, Lenore?

  14. Gina June 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    No venoumous snakes in Maine.

  15. Gina June 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Also Alaska and Hawaii have no snakes at all, although there are sea snakes in Hawaii

  16. Krista June 12, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    I love this ad. Thanks for the warm fuzzies.

  17. JJ June 12, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    I could probably think of reasons to be cynical about this ad but I am not going to try. It is, as Lenore says, sane and it sums up the way I feel (minus the guy popping a wheelie-I don’t endorse that, not worth the risk). And it’s beautifully done. Love the girl’s voice.

  18. Crystal June 12, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    This ad makes me want to switch to Allstate! Loved it!

  19. Donald June 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    This is great news!

    This is another advertising technique. Sometimes companies will give you a message to warm the heart. It doesn’t need to have ANYTHING to do with the product they sell. I often see an advert for a health insurance company. It has a song in it.

    You’ve got to accentuate the positive
    Eliminate the negative
    And latch on to the affirmative
    Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

    The rest of the advert doesn’t have anything to do with health or the necessities or medical coverage. However, that doesn’t matter. Your sub conscious thinks of this insurance company whenever it gets a similar warm feeling

    Over here there is another advertisement from a large chain pawn shop. It also has a song in it

    Life is easier when you consider things from another point of view

    They make no attempt to tell people about the bargains in their pawn shop or anything like that. Your sub conscious thinks of the pawn shop whenever it gets a similar warm feeling.

    This is very powerful. In fact it is so powerful that Allstate is encouraging you to take risks. This is like the Pope trying to convert people to Buddhism!

    I think this is great news! It’s so good that it overrides the sinister way they tap into your subconscious. The advertising experts are saying what Lenore has been saying all along. People are stressed out from trying to be too careful. We all know that but an advertising company is gambling that this will pay off. Therefore they know that lots of people feel this way. 100 million or more?

    When an advertising company invests in this, that’s like Donald Trump making an investment in something. He has inside information. The advertising company knows that free rang thinking is gaining momentum in a very big way.

  20. Lisa June 12, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    I loved the message. It made me tear up a little at the end.

  21. Deborah Caldwell June 12, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    There seemed to me to be all kinds of threats in every single paragraph. I did not get one, not even one, fuzzy warm thought until i read all these great and happy reviews. I feel totally odd, but then … i usually do. I feel as if I can see things that others do not see because i have never had a TV and therefore have not been subjected to this kind of thing. Huh. I will have to think about these reactions a bit more.

  22. Caleb June 12, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    I distrust the motives behind all ads and any ad, however I do not distrust good.

    Ads always focus on good things, usually for the wrong reasons.

    Even the “chocolate sugar bombs breakfast cereal” in the old “Calvin and Hobbs” comic script was advertised using “vitamins” and “extra energy,” and those are good things.

    One good thing to remember is that the original idea of insurance was a good idea. IE: if good people face roughly equal odds of bad luck, say one in twenty, then twenty people paying a small amount can lessen the suffering of the bad luck, if and when it occurs to one.

    The system was good, but sadly bad people pervert and rip-off the system. That is why we distrust ads.

    However good remains good.

  23. David DeLugas June 13, 2013 at 12:39 am #

    Would someone hunt down the ad executive AND the Allstate representative who gave the go ahead on that ad? FRK might want to get Allstate to team with FRK. I know the National Association of Parents wants to find those people! Who will do so for us? Thanks in advance to the ingenious (or connected) person who does so and send it to me (and to Lenore).

  24. Bernard June 13, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    An absolutely beautifully rendered ad, except for one thing. . . It’s made by an insurance company. . . And that is just weird based on this one point. . .

  25. Linda Wightman June 13, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    I don’t find it weird at all that it is an insurance company ad. If anyone knows risk/benefit analysis, it’s the insurance companies.

  26. pentamom June 13, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    “However good remains good.”

    Yep. We don’t have to believe they’re all sweetness and light to call this a culturally positive development, in itself.

  27. EricS June 13, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Awesome! Great message! But in a marketing point of view, that was some pretty good subliminal reverse psychology.

    Points out all the bad, off set it with positive thoughts. Ends it with “good”. Then blam! Allstate logo. To make life good, because so many bad things can happen, Allstate will give you peace of mind. lol

    But let’s stick with the positive messages of the ad. 😉

  28. Havva June 13, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    I think I am seeing this a bit like Deborah Caldwell sees it (And I used to be a TV watcher). The message in the ad is very clearly:

    No matter what you do, no matter where you go, you can’t isolate yourself from risk.

    Which is a perfect message, in a lot of ways, for an insurance company. Because if you can’t eliminate the risk, that leaves you pretty much with the options of pray and/or insure against it so it is easier to pick up the pieces after the fact.

    The subtext however is a world of difference. I this one’s subtext as “Having insurance should just be part of your life. Just buy it and don’t think about it too much. Just like you do all these other (not too risky) things (that could still go horribly wrong) without thinking too much about it.”

    Rather than the usual hardly subtextual: “This could be you, this could be your family, your life could be RUINED! Buy the right insurance product so you can get slightly less runaround in putting the shattered remains of your existence back together.”

    I do like it, though.

    So many people can’t get past the sense of risk. And this tries to pull away from fear of risk with the repetition of … but you still do x. Basically hammering in the message, that reacting to individual fears is non-sense. That no you can’t get away from risk. But thinking about it too much can suck the joy out of these ordinary happy things. So you need to just get out there and accept risk, because life is still worth living.
    That understanding, is really what broke me out of the severely risk adverse model. Unfortunately it took watching the word trade centers fall and days of inhaling that dust cloud for me to finally understand. I thought a lot about the victims, whose ashes were in the air. I couldn’t see myself doing any different than them had our places been reversed. I could tell “who would work in such a tall office building” or “After the first bombing… why didn’t they…” was all after the fact victim blaming. I thought about how I would feel if it were me. And realized that I’d be really be cheesed off at my self. Standing there with the fire cutting me off from help, knowing how much fun I skipped out on because I spent my life “playing it safe.” I would really be annoyed to be dying anyhow and at work no less. I decided that I didn’t want death to take me before I’d had some fun.

  29. lollipoplover June 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Like others, I was put off by the passive/aggressive “live for the good” and do adventurous things but disclaimed “don’t try this”. It’s like buying cigarettes advertised “Great Flavor” and in equally large letters “Causes Cancer”.

    I love the message of the ad and the moments portrayed (kissing a baby) and active, happy kids doing things on their own. But it’s for insurance. And for me, that’s the Debbie Downer. Honestly, I’d rather this ad be for National Parks or Let’s get moving Presidential Challenge, then it would feel warm and fuzzy.

  30. pentamom June 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Havva, I like that analysis.

  31. Edward June 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    I don’t mind having insurance. (It paid for a rather expensive operation once.) But I do mind being told by the company how to live my life in order to continue using their service. I hope this ad is the opening floodgate of a sensible trend in this industry – stop dictating to us!
    Individual lives do not care one bit about your statistics.
    Things happen or they don’t. Life is always 50/50.
    And if YouTube would let us have featured videos on our channels again – this would be mine

  32. lollipoplover June 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    @Caleb- love the Calvin and Hobbes reference. We are big fans!
    I’d like to think this ad will influence children like the strip where Calvin spent an afternoon watching subtitled Japanese Monster movies (“I wonder why Japanese people keep moving their mouths after they’re through talking”) and mimics the monster rising from the ocean (his bath) then spews a mighty fireball (bath water) all over his mother downstairs. She yells “NO MORE AFTERNOON TV MOVIES FOR YOU EVER!!”
    I would love this ad to inspire kids to get up off sofa and find adventures in their neighborhood.

  33. Katie June 13, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    Assuming they came across this ad on the internet (and not regular tv) here is how I would explain it. The powers that be of the internet have become good and powerful at tracking your likes and dislikes. From tracking they can often tell the difference of someone who is a free ranger from someone who is a helicopter parent. Therefore they will give you an ad like this. My guess is they will give a helicopter parent a completely different ad.

    Is this a good for bad thing, that’s hard to say. Ultimately the goal is to get you to buy and they do that by doing things such as giving you a positive image of their company. I guess in conclusion I’d say it’s business.

  34. Katie June 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    By the way speaking of good free range videos a few weeks ago the BBC did a piece on children who were gardening and then learning how to cook the vegetables they gardened (in the UK). The elementary school aged kids in the video were using knives and peelers and this was presented as a good thing! And I would say it’s a good thing too! The benefits of learning healthy eating, greatly outweigh the pretty much non-existent dangers of a vegetable peeler!

  35. Natalie June 13, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    Eh, I’m too cynical, or maybe I’ve watched Mad Men too much. I see a bunch of ad execs running some focus groups to see what insurance buyers respond to more.
    It’s an ad.

  36. Bob Davis June 14, 2013 at 2:11 am #

    Regarding snakes: This week’s “Peanuts Classic” has Linus with a feeling of impending doom as he rides the bus to summer camp, sure that a “queen snake” is just waiting for him to show up so she can “chomp” him. Of course, if his camp was in Ireland, no problem, because we know that St. Patrick chased all the snakes out of the Emerald Isle.

  37. Suzanne June 14, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    I love this ad – I have a sudden urge to change insurance companies.

  38. Hugo S. Cunningham June 14, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    I share Lenore’s enthusiasm for this Allstate ad.

    And now for a light dose of cynicism:

    The ad is akin to health insurance promotions at workout spas.

    Viewers attracted by this ad are desirable insurance customers: self-reliant and reluctant to sue over minor matters.

    viewers repelled by this ad are the sort an insurance company woud like to avoid– ones who feel there should be a lawsuit for everything.

  39. pentamom June 15, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    “Eh, I’m too cynical, or maybe I’ve watched Mad Men too much. I see a bunch of ad execs running some focus groups to see what insurance buyers respond to more.
    It’s an ad.”

    But isn’t it a good thing, a hopeful sign, that people respond positively to this ad?

  40. Natalie June 15, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    @Pentamom –

    Yes, it is good.

    But (sorry, there’s a “but”) people always respond to those types of messages: “Live life to the fullest!” “Take risks!” “Get dirty!” (or maybe I’m just quoting Miss Frizzle from the Magic Schoolbus)

    There was that graduation speech a while back- Always use sunblock – which has the same message, and I think it’s a message we see a lot in movies and shows. People have always responded to the “Live Life!” message when presented in this way. I don’t think that’s new, or that it presents a turn of the tide. People can get behind those messages and still helicopter the heck out of their kids – not seeing the contradiction.

    You can also present the same actions in a different sort of ad describing uber-safety like on those TV ads that you see while waiting for the pediatrician. You just need different background music, a different narrative – It all depends on how it’s presented.

  41. pentamom June 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    But it’s a good thing because it shows that people still respond that way — that all the helicopterishness in the world does not undermine the basic idea that deep ddown people know that adventure and reasonable risk (reasonable in terms of what you’re willing to risk for what you get in exchange) are still good things.

    And that’s a hopeful sign. Even if we go through a cultural period where the helicopter mentality rules, this kind of thing shows that it doesn’t always have to be that way — that it can be turned around, because a more free-range mentality it’s closer to the normal instinct anyway.

    I understand the “buts” and don’t dispute them, I only dispute that they need make us cynical to the point not believing that things can change.

  42. Natalie June 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Hmmm, let’s put it this way then, because I think we’re in agreement.
    I’m cynical in that I don’t see this ad as a change in the times, but just reiterating a positive message that people like hearing, and have liked hearing for a long time now. Regardless of lifestyle.
    I believe that things can change, and I’m hopeful that they will, and I think its already happening, and has been happening. There’s a backlash against helicopter parenting now. Lenore’s book/site is a part of it.
    I don’t find myself in the minority as far as parenting styles go. The parents I know run the gamut along the scale between free range and helicopter. They just don’t call it free range or helicopter.
    Ssome that are more towards free range have some aspects that could fall in the realm of helicopter, and vice versa. I never thought it was such a cut and dry thing. Every parenting style is such a mish-mash.

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  44. Susan Rosenthal June 20, 2013 at 4:44 am #

    Alaska is the state that does not have poisonous snakes. Alaska has no reptiles because it is too cold.

  45. Andrea June 20, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    I saw this ad in a morning show on TV while I was at the doctor’s office. I LOVED it.