Attention, sports fans: Allstate’s hockey follies

The video’s gone viral, but perhaps you haven’t seen the remarkable shot that has given a bit of a black eye to Allstate Insurance:

Before the shot, contestant Richard Marsh had agreed to donate the money to St. Vincent’s Heart Center and the American Heart Association.

As I’ve mentioned before, these contests are underwritten by an insurance company, a fact that spreads far and wide when the claim is denied. Which happened here.

Turns out the insurance the Indiana Ice purchased calls for the shot to take place behind the red line and Mr. Marsh was a good three feet in front of it. Meaning it was only a 175-foot shot. Claim denied!

The hockey team’s owners have made a donation to both charities.

(This could all be avoided if large blue mascots took their risk management role seriously and directed shooters to the proper spot.)

The big loser here is Allstate Insurance. It sponsors the shot every night.

Sponsorship means it gets to put a sign on the ice, have a representative present (read: comped tickets) and get mentioned in public address announcement.

But to the casual observer, it sounds like Allstate insured the shot and denied the claim. Now it looks like a bad guy. Here’s a screen cap from yahoo sports:

Good Hands, indeed

I note ‘thumbs up’ outnumbers ‘thumbs down’ 29-2. There’s more at the link, but you get the point.

To reiterate, Allstate didn’t insure the shot, nor did they deny the claim. They aren’t helped by the Indiana Ice, which has not named the insurer that did both.

They also aren’t helped by their reaction. I couldn’t find a press release at Allstate.com. The company’s Facebook page and twitter feed appear silent on the matter, at least as of Wednesday morning. (The shot occurred Saturday.)

An Indiana Ice press release quotes a regional marketing manager:

“Allstate commends the fan for choosing to offer his prize money to charity if he made the winning shot,” said Joe Barrett, regional marketing manager for Allstate Insurance Company. “We further support the decision that the Indiana Ice team made to donate to the fan’s designated charities.”

But this isn’t a regional issue. It’s gone viral. I decided to post about this when a friend (h/t DD) emailed me a link. He is in Missouri. I am in New Jersey. The shot was in Indiana.

And the internet links span the nation. The story has been in Huffington Post, msnbc.com and Yahoo sports. The youtube video had 370,000 hits as of Wednesday morning. An aol Fanhouse post is blistering, comparing the fiasco to a scene in the Will Ferrell movie about the ABA, Semi-Pro.

Allstate is suffering injuries sustained in a collision of poor risk management and poor handling of social media.

It didn’t consider the reputational risk involved in sponsoring an event that some other company is insuring. So the actions of another company have harmed it.

And as the mess unfolded, it didn’t turn to social media to help itself out. These days, the curious – potential customers or gumshoe reporters – check out Facebook and twitter to gauge the situation.

Silence in those quarters doesn’t help. It especially hurts a company like Allstate, whose ads try to make it seem young and cool. Failure in the social media – when it counts, as here – makes one look like a fogey hanging on, like a Mom in a mini-dress.

Allstate could help itself today by writting a six-figure check to the charities. In the future, Allstate should insure events like this when it sponsors them. The cost to the company isn’t so great – $1 million would be a terrible year but not even a blip to a company with a $15 billion surplus.

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One thought on “Attention, sports fans: Allstate’s hockey follies

  1. […] though, I don’t have a strong feeling on this denial – unlike here and here – other than to note these claims seem to be best honored in their breach. But maybe […]

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