Allstate finds itself weathering a storm of bad publicity owing to a recent commercial that showed its "agents of good" rushing in to provide assistance in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. The spot showed the partially ruined Staten Island home of Sheila and Dominic Traina. But the Trainas, who claim that wind caused much of the damage, say the insurer's $10,000 payout is inadequate. They weren't covered for flooding, which Allstate says was the prime culprit in wrecking the couple's home of 43 years. The Trainas have hired a lawyer to help them get more money from the insurance company. "The commercial said how caring their agents are," says Sheila Traina. "But they are not caring at all." Allstate counters that it is "in contact with this customer and continues to work with them regarding their claim." The TV spot, the company adds, was made "in accordance with all applicable advertising laws." Phew, we can relax about that now. Of course, this type of controversy is nothing new. It just underscores the fundamental disconnect between the ad-driven idealized representation of a brand and how said brand behaves, or is perceived to behave, in real life. In terms of spin, this is a fight AllState can't win. You don't need a show of hands to judge how unpopular insurance firms are, even before these kinds of situations arise. So far, the company hasn't further tarnished its image via communications blunders, as Progressive arguably did last summer during its own media crisis. While predictably tepid, Allstate's response is probably the safest policy. Hopefully a deal with the Trainas can be worked out. Via Gothamist.
UPDATE: Leo Burnett in Chicago, which created the spot, declined to comment.