STORY’s John Komnenich recently directed Allstate chairman and CEO Tom Wilson and actor Dean Winters in a 30-second TV spot produced for Leo Burnett.  In the ad, Wilson has trouble reading his lines due to a prankster holding his cue cards.  He contorts his body to make out the words on the moving card. A cut to the camera crew reveals the culprit: Allstate’s malicious troublemaker Mayhem.

The charm of the spot lies in the contrast between Wilson’s self-effacing performance and the antics of Mayhem (played by actor Dean Winters). “Incorporating Mayhem into the story adds an element of comedy,” says Komnenich, “and it helps to humanize Tom Wilson and make him seem more fun.”

Viewers would never know it, but the commercial is actually a cleverly-constructed composite. Komnenich shot Wilson in Chicago, Winters in New York City and the stadium—the Superdome—in New Orleans. The parts were assembled seamlessly in post production. “Coming from an editorial background, I am very careful about lenses, camera position and other details to ensure the optics and the angles match,” Komnenich explains. “It came out very well.”

Komnenich has worked on Allstate advertising for a long time and has directed a number of previous ads featuring Tom Wilson and Mayhem. “It’s been great working with Tom over the years,” he says. “He’s very loose and relatable on camera. With Mayhem, since he has already developed his own character, it’s just a matter of putting him in the situation and then working with him on timing and interaction. He’s a very talented actor.”

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