My issue with AllState’s ‘Mayhem’ commercials

As I was watching tv the other night I saw all state’s newest commercial in their ‘protect yourself from mayhem’ series.  You know the sketchy guy in the suit who breaks a tree branch on your car, and is a teenage girl so distraught from a txt message that she crashes her car?  Right, well the one I saw left me speechless.  It was the same guy, in his suit but with pink handweights and a pink sweatband ‘jogging’ down the street.  A teenage guy is driving down the street and sees the ‘mayhem’ guy(who is supposed to be an attractive woman, he even mentions his perfect 10 figure) and is so distracted by oggling this female that he crashes his car into a lightpost.  Which causes the mayhem guy to say “protect yourself from mayhem like me”.  I nearly lost it.  I will disregard that teenage boys have the highest insurance rates, which I doubt can be attributed to thousands of jogging females.  I will also disregard that the handweights and sweatband were pink, get it because girls only wear pink?cleverright?

Here are my 2 big issues: the implication that slobbering over a woman from your car is generally acceptable, and that the woman is in fact the bringer of the mayhem.  This commercial says any woman jogging, or walking, or simply existing on any sidewalk in America is fair game to be sexualized, and rarely does that sexualization remain silent, it is usually accompanied by street harassment yelled from a passing car.  I personally jog about 2miles every morning and there are streets I will not jog on because I know someone is going to honk or catcall and at 8 in the morning that’s not something I want to deal with.  But this commercial is saying go ahead young men(any men really) stare, stare at her until your basic motor functions are compromised.  And then blame her.

She is the mayhem, she is the reason you crashed your car into a lightpole.  She made you do it, she made you crazy.  Does that sound like abuser logic to anyone else?  Why do you make me hit you, sounds a lot like, why did you make me crash the car?  Presumably if the ‘woman’ had not been so carelessly jogging along the sidewalk this young man would never have been distracted and would have been able to compotently drive his car.  But the message here is one we have heard before(in rape cases), men cannot biologically control their impulses when it comes to sexuality and women.

The solution is clear to me: women pose such a serious risk to male drivers that we can no longer be allowed to jog outdoors.  This is for the good of the nation, we simply cannot expect men to remain in control of their functions while we prance around the neighborhood.  America is counting on us.

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  • Holly Kearl

    Hi Liz.
    Thanks for writing this post. I hadn’t seen the AllState commercial before so I appreciate finding out about it. As a woman runner I’m sick and tired of men harassing me while I run and as an anti-street harassment activist and I more than sick and tired of street harassment being treated as a joke by popular culture, companies, the media, and regular people. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve cross posted your blog post on my Stop Street Harassment Blog:

    In solidarity

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  • honeybee

    As-if the same doesn’t happen in reverse.

    Surely I can’t be the only one who’s had a few close calls over the years as a result of passing a hot MAN on the street while driving!

  • Brad

    I am a 26 year old man. I do agree that it is wrong to blame a woman for “causing” a man to crash his car. I also agree with the other comment, as I myself have been the subject of honking and shouting by female drivers while I was jogging. I do not have a problem with that. There are so many things wrong with advertising today; not to mention, political correctness. I could go on and on…

  • Isaac

    i know this post is old but i just found it. I think the commercials do a great job of passing blame off of the insured person, giving the illusion of being the victim of circumstance. I dont think the underlying intent is to blame the woman. I really think they were trying to blame the teenager, BUT the commercial would have been bad on many levels if they had the mayhem guy as a teenage boy drooling over an actual hot lady jogging… right? I also think the target sales was the parents of these hormone driven teenage boys.
    I do however disagree with the stereo type that males become drooling idiots everytime a lovely woman is around. I thinking this type of mentality is much more insulting to men, like we need to be put on leashes.
    The boy in the commercial wasn’t whistling or cat calling…. he was just staring in aw

  • leann Alderman

    finally someone said something…i dont get pissed off tht easily by stuff like tht but who wouldnt get pissed off when someones implying tht itd be a womans fault if some dude cant keep his eyes to himself….and yea maybe thats not how they ment it….but if their too stupid to realize how it sounds wud u rlly want anything to do with them?

  • Crystal

    This is an old thread, but like the lady who posted ahead of me, I just came across it today as I was browsing the internet for information regarding the man who plays “Mayhem” in these commercials, and I happened across it.

    Relax! It’s just a commercial, and by now there are and have been so many Allstate mayhem commercials that we get the gist that they’re not out to “get” anyone (unless anyone has suspicions that they’re targeting the feelings of deer, raccoons, trees, and snow as well as jogging women..). Allstate’s goal is to advertise in such a way that a commercial sticks in the mind, and apparently they’ve accomplished that. I don’t believe they were out to say “hey, all jogging women are a hot distraction to any male that drives a car!” but more so a “teenage males get easily distracted while driving…get our insurance!” Very much like the teenage texting girl in the pink SUV commercial.

    Lighten up :) There are plenty of other issues that really target women in a purposely negative way to get worked up about. A 30 second commercial is nothing!

  • Shanna

    Maybe you should inform PITA about these commercials as well since they depict a raccoon as the only animal that infests your attic. Come on, I’m a female and it’s just a commercial! And it’s funny! Men are men, yeah they are going to oggle at a super hot babe jogging. They may not always get into a car crash but they’re still gonna look.

  • Stephanie

    This analysis of AllState’s Mayhem commercial is ridiculous. These commercials play on stereotypes. Stereotypes, to remind you, are true to some extent. The issue is in generalizing truths to all members of the stereotyped group. That being said, a stereotypical female jogger is a physically fit girl wearing a sports bra and tight pants. A stereotypical male jogger is a buff man jogging without a shirt. Mayhem commercials use pink to represent a female multiple times (recall the teenage girl commercial – pink everywhere). How else is the audience going to know he is a girl jogger? Pink is related to females. Although, thinking in a feminist way, I can see how relating color to ones sex is a bit absurd in and of itself. However, it’s a joke. It’s meant to be over the top, that’s why it’s funny. They use an easy method, although a stereotypical one, to portray to the audience the Mayhem is a girl. Also, the fact that a teenage boy is ogling over a female jogger to the point where he looses all focus of reality is also a stereotype. The commercial is saying that teenage boys are easily manipulated by sex and have a one track mind. Again, stereotype. You will find teenage bogs proving this stereotype true and some will not. Do not generalize these stereotypes that Mayhem commercials use. (Also recall the teenage girl commercial- it’s a stereotypical portrayal of their character. But, you’re not complaining about that one are you. Recall again another commercial where Mayhem is a ‘filthy rich executive’. If you watch that commercial the entire thing is a stereotype of a rich executives character.) I am pretty sure the makers of this commercial did not have malicious intent when portraying the female as the center of mayhem, therefore the reason behind getting insurance. Not everything is a hidden social message of women’s inequality. There are just some things feminists take too far.