A Poem from Allstate

Allstate Insurance has created an eye-moistening, persuasive, thunderbolt of a poem in “Back to Basics” with this inspired advertisement.

The words start with –

  1. A stanza of uncertainty
  2. one of appreciation of basic values
  3. care and protection of those values

Now thats a great combination! It’s timeless but appropriate for now: we are in the sea of uncertainty. Let’s explore the music, the images, the words and even such a subtle thing as the echo of the room.

The music is simple, but hypnotic. It repeats in the manner of Robert Heinlein’s “pepsis” — note well how it goes over and over in your head for days triggering a memory of the message. The transition from solo piano to warm sweet orchestra comes at the end of the first verse and mirrors the verbal transition from thinking of uncertainty to emotional caring for basic values.

The images start cold and hard: Black and White. Stark. Of having to drink water from a fire hydrant. A woman worn by care, wondering about an uncertain future. Long lines for soup and bread: lines full of the camaraderie of stress and deprivation, lines that could end in “sorry, no soup left” for those unfortunate depression era souls.

But during the second and third verses, the scope changes, we see the gallery (as we watch, we sigh in relief, “it’s only a gallery where children are visiting”) and the color comes back into view. There are children and we can identify with them. Either we can be warm parents, or we can imagine that we are the children and the world is a grand place. Either way, it is so much better than we had just a second ago.

The images shift from cold and chilly to the warmth of the sun. But note the warm golden shades of the color: The shades of sunset — the reward of the day: the time spent with hearth and food and family.

Let’s talk about the voice of Dennis Haysbert: James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman are finally a trio with their “voice from beyond.” Moving, believable, solid and firm as a grassy knoll on a summer afternoon when you can hear the voice of God from the clouds. Haysbert is perfect to deliver this poetic A-bomb about uncertainty, worth and protection.

Even the audio is in alignment with the message: It is very subtle, but the echo of a great hall for the first words are replaced by a more intimate surrounding by the end of the message.

1931…was not exactly a great year to start a business.
But, that’s when Allstate opened its door.
And through the twelve recessions since,
they’ve noticed that after the fear subsides,
a funny thing happens.

People begin enjoying the small things in life.
A home-cooked meal.
Time with loved ones.
Appreciating the things we do have.
The things we can count on.

It’s back to basics.
And the basics are good.
Protect them.
Put them…in good hands.”

This advertisement hit all of the senses: sound, sight, feeling — it has alluded to and activated the cold of a depression day and the warmth of the sunset. And after feeling comes taste and smell –”a home cooked meal” is one of the basics.

And the monologue takes us from bewildered child to protective parent all guided by our wise grandfather, Dennis Haybert — Who tells us to put it in… Good Hands

This review by Jim Hinds is not meant to endorse any product by Allstate Insurance or any other provider — but it is meant to help shape our perceptions of art: a great message that connects with our most intimate needs.

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