Today, when people think of Allstate, they think of
automobile insurance. Over the years, however, Sears used the
Allstate brand name on a wide variety of products for the
automobile, from spark plugs to rebuilt automobile engines.
The Allstate brand began in 1925 as part of a national
contest to name Sears' new brand of automobile tires. Public
response in the contest was overwhelming. Before it was over,
937,886 people submitted a total of 2,253,746 names. Entries
came from every state and in 25 different languages. Hans
Simonson of Bismarck, N.D., received a $5,000 cash prize for his
winning entry Allstate.
In 1926, Sears adopted the trademark Allstate for initial use
on automobile tires and tubes. The tires-guaranteed for 12,000
miles-quickly became big sellers in the catalog and at the new
Sears, Roebuck and Co. retail stores (which first opened in
1925). Sears Chairman General Robert E. Wood credited the
Allstate tire with making an important contribution to the
success of Sears' retail store program.
Sears formed the Allstate Insurance Company on April 17,
1931. Allstate offered low rates, available to customers through
direct-mail sales (Sears catalogs) and through sales booths in
Sears stores. Allstate eventually expanded into fire insurance.
The highpoint for the Allstate brand came in the 1950s and
1960s, when the brand appeared on a wide range of products,
including garage door openers, fire extinguishers, motor
scooters and camper shells. During these years, before
seatbelts, heaters, radios, and air conditioners became standard
equipment on automobiles, Sears offered a complete line of these
accessories under the Allstate brand.
In 1952, Sears introduced the Allstate automobile. Built by
the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation, the Allstate automobile came in
two models: The Standard ($1,395) and the Delux ($1,796) models
came with a choice of optional four- or six-cylinder engines and
a transmission overdrive. All automobiles came with a 90-day
guarantee. As popular as the insurance and accessories were,
however, few people wanted to buy an entire car with the
Allstate name. Disappointing sales caused the Allstate
automobile to disappear from Sears stores after 1953.
By the end of the 1960s, Sears limited the Allstate brand
name to insurance, tires, and automobile batteries. By the
mid-1970s, Sears no longer used the Allstate brand on
merchandise. In 1995, Allstate became completely independent
after Sears divested its remaining shares to Sears'
stockholders, ending the company's 70-year
relationship with the brand it created.