Allstate’s Marketing Boss Talks Up ‘March Mayhem’

Assessing the ROI from such a large-scale push

From the now-ubiquitous Good Hands field goal net program to the increasingly chaotic pratfalls of anarchic pitchman Dean Winters, Allstate’s Pam Hollander, senior director of integrated marketing communications, has developed some of the most highly visible marketing activations in sports. On the first big day of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, the Syracuse alum plots out the Xs and Os of the insurance giant’s busy March.

This is Allstate’s third year as an NCAA corporate partner. What kind of activations can we expect to see from you in and around March Madness?
Things are going to evolve with our “March Mayhem” positioning, let’s put it that way. Consumers can expect to hear from Mayhem, especially on this, the day of all days, when the inevitable bracket busting begins.

So it’s a full-court press on the TV front?
Yes. Our media buy is across the board —you’ll see us across the Turner networks and CBS, and we’re going to have our “Good Hands Play of the Game” features run throughout the tournament. We’re also rolling out some new ads that are specifically tailored around homeowners insurance, which is an area we haven’t focused on to a great extent in the past.

The @Mayhem Twitter account has more than 61,000 followers. How are you going to optimize that particular audience?
Social activity has definitely been kicked up a notch. Mayhem is already starting to have some fun with his followers in terms of playing off their busted brackets. Look out for some particularly inspired Vines and direct engagement with fans as the tournament progresses.

What sort of ROI do you see after such a large-scale marketing push?
Lead generation is a huge component for us. Beyond TV, we’re on the grounds at Bracket Town, we’re sponsoring the ESPN Tournament Challenge, we have Dick Vitale—who is obviously a terrific voice to have in your corner this time of year—in a bracket challenge against [Texas’] Joel the Longhorn. And all that engagement is designed to generate leads. … And we’ll get hundreds of thousands of leads from this. Because going from a lead to a sale isn’t something that happens overnight, we’ll look at the numbers 90 days out to really assess the full spectrum of our ROI.

With everyone walking around with the Internet in their pocket, how has your mobile strategy evolved?
Honestly, we start building things with mobile in view first and then look at other components. It’s a different world. We always used to think about how something would look on TV first and then adapt that creative for the other platforms. But now, we really engage with mobile first and work our way back to TV.

Who are you pulling for in the tourney?
The Orange. I have two brackets filled out, one where Syracuse goes all the way and wins a second title and, well, one where someone else wins.

The Syracuse Mafia looms large. There’s [Turner Sports chief] David Levy, and …
And, like, half of IMG. Yeah, we’re everywhere!

So, what made you decide to be a Clio Sports judge?
Oh, I consider it a tremendous honor to be included on the inaugural panel. It’s a neat opportunity … and maybe we’ll win something while we’re at it.