A recent television spot for a major insurance company—set to the wistful tinkling of a piano—opens with evocative images from the Great Depression. "1931 was not exactly a great year to start a business," says spokesperson Dennis Haysbert. "But that's when Allstate opened its doors."

"And in the twelve recessions since," he continues, "we've noticed that after the fears subside, a funny thing happens." The score surges. "People start enjoying the small things in life. A home-cooked meal. Time with loved ones. Appreciating the things we do have, the things we can count on."

According to Christina Kerley—known to one and all through her blog as CK—this ad hits all the right notes. "They talk the basics," she says. "They keep it simple." And instead of focusing on everything that's gone wrong, it highlights the good to be found when we strip the chaos away. "Allstate doesn't speak to what we've lost," says CK, "but to what still remains."

The genius of the Allstate campaign is that it appeals to the optimism that underpins the American psyche. "They show images of past recessions, but they don't pander or instill fear," says CK. "Instead they offer hope since they, too, have weathered tough times."

The Po!nt: Talk plain, but ease up on the doom and gloom. It may be time to help customers and clients look to the future with a bit of good old-fashioned American optimism.

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