Last week Allstate Insurance sent out a press release detailing people’s accidents based on their astrological signs. The data that Allstate used was real, based on the birthdays of customers actually involved in accidents.
Controversy ensues and Allstate retracts an innovatively creative press release. Was this really as bad a PR blunder as the media or even Allstate is making it out to be? From our perspective absolutely not.
In 2009, a Pew Research Center poll concluded that 1 in 4 Americans believe in astrology (and we all know many people who read their horoscopes daily). Not a bad idea for Allstate to engage the 75 million people enthralled with the stars. The controversy apparently was sparked by this factually based conclusion:
“Over the past year, Virgos were nearly 700% more likely to be in a car accident when compared to the determined and aware Scorpio.”
Why the shock? Why the outcry? Just about every Virgo we know has an accident track record longer than Mike Tyson’s rap sheet! We won’t get into a Virgo’s car without receiving our last rites. Every Scorpio we know apparently has divine protection with perfect road records. Were you aware that Sandra Bullock’s character from 1994’s “Speed” was a Scorpio? How many tickets and accidents did that out of control bus at 55 mph she was driving get?
In our polarized culture, we have a bunch of people believe religion is the end all means for gaining an answer and we also have bunch of people who believe in absolute science. There’s also another group of people who believe that information comes in all shapes and forms – this group also doesn’t care whether this information originates from religion, science, or even astrology. Either way, Allstate press release wasn’t an affront to either of these groups and nor did it deliberately slander anyone.
At heart, Allstate’s astrology press release was only considered a PR blunder because millions of people either apparently take life way too seriously or don’t have the capability to process light humor (that was factually based).