GEICO's advertising campaign strategy incorporates a saturation-level amount of print (primarily mail circulars) and television parody advertisements, as well as radio advertisements. A common tagline used by GEICO is "fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance."
The ads are effective at getting customers to switch to GEICO. Warren Buffet, owner of GEICO parent Berkshire Hathaway, has stated that over 40% of Americans could save money with GEICO. He has indicated that he would spend $2 billion on GEICO ads if he could, far exceeding the $751 million in advertising in 2007, the last year where data was available.
As part of the early GEICO Direct ads and the "Dumb Things" campaign, those 15 second long commercials were animated by Bill Plympton, and feature a curious little man walking up to an object and end up getting hurt after being curious about the object (for example, he encounters a cannon, presses a button, and a ball fires and sticks to his face).
GEICO has presented a number of memorable one shot ads. Amongst these are:
- A duck (similar to the Aflac duck) says, "Am I on? (clears throat) GEICO could save you hundreds of money on car insurance. Result..." The duck then removes his bill, revealing a smaller one, whilst saying in a high-pitched voice, "...Smaller bill."
- A man, whose insurance company didn't offer a loaner car left his house whilst covered in magnets and "bummed a ride" by attaching himself to a passing car, the announcer said "At GEICO auto insurance, we handle your claim quickly, so you don't have to bum a ride to work".
- A woman with no car decides to pretend to be one to pick up her daughter from school. She uses her hands as signals, has a license plate stamped to her rear, and uses an air horn for a car horn. The girl and her friend notice this and the latter asks the former "Isn't that your mom?" before the girl responds "Ummm...no."
- A man's dog wears a fire proximity suit as he delivers a competing insurance company's bill because it is "too hot to handle".
- A woman arriving home to share a heartwarming cuddle with her rather fuzzy dog as the announcer states: "You can't stop all bad things from happening to you, but they sure can be there when they do." The woman then walks in another room with the dog, claiming that she smells something.
- People running away from a giant piggy bank "terrorizing" the city.
- A montage of three men doing "dumb things". First one is on a treadmill, and cranks up the speed to maximum, sending him flying. Second one checks the time on his watch with a mug in his hand, spilling coffee on his lap. Last one pours an insane amount of lighter fluid on a grill, and strikes a match, where an explosion occurs from behind his house (the third segment sometimes aired solo in later airings).
- As an example of other companies' poor customer service, a man in a diner tells a waitress he didn't order mayo on his sandwich, at which point she scrapes it off onto the side of the table.
- To showcase GEICO's 24-hour customer service, GEICO employees are shown wearing beer helmets with cups of coffee attached to them instead of beer.
- A mime trying to contact GEICO, but realizing he can't speak, he frowns and hangs up.
- A comparison of a regular insurance company's small coffee mug and GEICO's big coffee mug.
- A police unit tracks down an apparent earthquake, only to find the source is an obese man joyously jumping up and down over the money that GEICO saved him.
- A man trying to make a wooden toy for his kid, as the announcer states that it can't be done in 15 minutes, but calling GEICO can.
- A vacuum cleaner sucking up money from the floor, until it goes far enough to unplug itself.
- A man, year after year, showcasing the different car models he has, with the last one, as an old man, being a floating, futuristic car.
- A man hires a team of bloodhounds to find his Acme Insurance agent after hours, only to find a terrified janitor in the building.
- Multiple people seemingly fitting into a normal sized car.
- People riding around a city on donkeys, with one elderly woman attempting to make one move by tugging its harness.
- A man juggling balls as the announcer describes how he's a person who doesn't have to worry about renewal. Meanwhile, his dog tries to stand, but falls over.
- An obese man dressed as a fairy trying to renew an ACME bill, but he only succeeds in making the bill itself smaller. He then falls.
- A man digging a hole to retrieve his car insurance money from underground, but is shocked by the fact it's missing.
- Two cars driving side to side as the announcer discuses that one costs 15% less to insure. The car described then speeds up to reveal it's towing a speedboat ("It gives one driver more money for....accessory").
- A man walks on stage, apparently representing all the people who switched to GEICO. When asked to raise his hand 10,000 times, he immediately leaves the scene.
- A man looks at his most recent auto insurance bill with his dog at his side; the dog, finding out his owner spent way too much money, rolls on the floor laughing.
- A group of people in a small town bursting into a happy-go-lucky musical number, overjoyed about their successful car insurance bills.
- A man (played by Benton Jemmings) walking into a car wash with no car and is subjected to the cleaning methods, getting himself wet.
- A man places a long-distance collect phone call through an operator, using the code name Bob Wehaddababyitsaboy to avoid having the call's recipient billed for the call's charges. This commercial ran for a few weeks with the name joke and the pitch for GEICO, followed by a parting shot of the man on the telephone further exploiting his name trick, saying "Last name is Wehadababyitsaboyandweighs8pounds3ouncesandisdoingfine". The commercial was later re-edited to remove the ending joke and add "Don't cheat the telephone company, save money the legal way with GEICO" in its place.
- A squirrel causes a car to swerve and crash off screen and performs a series of fist bumps and high fives with another squirrel.
- The camera pans up to a night sky to show a constellation of a car, whose "windshield" is hit by a shooting star, the announcer said "At Geico, we get your ball rolling on your claim quickly....even in the middle of the night."
- A man drives a golf cart retrieving a golf ball he found in the river and when he goes to tee off, the ball ends up in the river again and he sets off to retrieve it, but ends up sinking in the river.
- A man watches TV and thinks he had eaten chips, only to find he had eaten dead leaves off a plant.
The GEICO Gecko Edit
The company's ads sometimes focus on its reptilian mascot, Martin the Gecko, an anthropomorphic Day Gecko created by The Martin Agency and most recently a CGI creature generated by Framestore CFC. The gecko first appeared in 1999 during the Screen Actors Guild strike that prevented the use of live actors. In the original commercial, where the gecko pleads for people to stop calling him in error, mistaking gecko for GEICO, he was voiced by Kelsey Grammer. Later "wrong number" ads used Dave Kelly as the voice of the gecko. In the subsequent commercials with Jake Wood, (which portray him as a representative of the company), the gecko speaks with an English (Cockney) accent, because it would be unexpected, according to Martin Agency's Steve Bassett. Paul Morgan, a British actor and comedian, is the current voice of the GEICO gecko. In current commercials the gecko's accent is more working-class, perhaps in an effort to further "humanize" him. "As computer animation got better and as we got to know the character better, we did a few things," says Steve Bassett, creative director at The Martin Agency. "We wanted to make him a little more guy-next-door. And he looks a lot more real than he's looked before." A recent ad shows the gecko in a GEICO sales meeting. One of the people at the meeting says, "I could sell more insurance too if I was green with a British accent." to which a female counterpart says, "British? I thought you're from Australia." The commercial concludes with the gecko saying, "Actually I'm from-" and the commercial cuts off.
Another common theme is misdirection, in which the commercial appears to be about an unrelated product (or, in fact, may not even be a commercial), suddenly changing to become a plug for GEICO. The commercials use a variety of fictional characters such as Speed Racer, Mrs. Butterworth, Jed Clampett, and Bill Dutchess as well as real people such as Tony Little, Little Richard, Joan Rivers, Peter Frampton, Don LaFontaine, and James Lipton spoofing themselves. Other commercials relate to a hair loss doctor who has saved by switching to GEICO, a nature show about a fish, and a soap opera of a couple who are breaking up. Another set of GEICO ads involved a fictional reality show called "Tiny House" in which contestants were forced to live in a half-scale house.
An additional commercial theme is the promotion of fictional products. In 2006 parody ads featured such products as long distance phone service, tomato soda, fast-food, a reality TV show, dolls, and even poking fun at the Old Navy commercials - in all cases, the parody portion of the ad ends with "but it won't save you any money on car insurance." After the GEICO slogan is heard, the commercials end with "Why haven't you called GEICO?" This use of fictional products in commercials is reminiscent of the Energizer Bunny campaign for batteries from the late 1980s.
The parody pitch crossed over to the Caveman campaign (see below) in a recent 10-second spot that appears to be a talking heads news interview, but features the popular caveman.
"I've got good news"Edit
In another ad campaign, a character would be breaking bad news to another (such as a baseball manager replacing a struggling pitcher with a reliever), but then offer helpfully, "I've got good news!", and then explain, "I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to GEICO!". That news, of course, is of no immediate use at all to the other character(s). Some of the ads were parodies and/or featured celebrities including, for example, Esteban. The exchange became parodied for a time while the ads were popular. One of the most watched "I've got good news" spots was a soap opera parody featuring television actor Sebastian Siegel.
In another series of ads, a GEICO pitchman is played by actor Jerry Lambert in an extremely bland and understated way, parodying the stereotype of an insurance man, such as reading to some bored-looking kids, from a book of fairy tales about insurance. In one segment, he reads a supposed e-mail from a viewer saying it would be "da bomb", i.e. something good, if the Gecko would do a dance called "The Robot". Cut to the Gecko doing that dance smoothly and gracefully (to the tune of a not-for-public-sale melody called "Sweet World" by a group called "Omega Men", which was used in the arcade video game In the Groove 2) and then back to the insurance salesman attempting to do the same dance, seemingly more stiffly than an actual robot would. The newest commercial featuring the GEICO gecko depicts the Gecko receiving a business suit from the salesman, in order to present a more professional appearance, but he declines.
There are also GEICO ads that feature stories from GEICO customers about situations in which the company assisted them, but are narrated by celebrities such as Charo, Burt Bacharach, Little Richard, Don LaFontaine, Peter Graves, and Verne Troyer.
Main article: GEICO Cavemen
A popular series of well-received advertisements uses cavemen as pitchmen. Also developed by the Martin Agency, the ads center on Neanderthal-like cavemen, no different from modern-day individuals (outside of the somewhat pre-historic facial features), encountering either an ad or commercial with the tagline "GEICO: so easy a caveman could do it," followed by their disgust with the supposed stereotype of caveman stupidity. The ads posit a world where cavemen are still alive and active members of society in the present day, behaving and living nothing at all like the stereotypical caveman. The main characters presented in the ads are affluent, educated, and cultured, eating at fancy restaurants, going to exclusive parties, and seeing their therapists (portrayed in the commercials by two-time Oscar-nominated actress Talia Shire). The humor revolves around the relative normality of the cavemen's presence and their reactions to the stereotype represented in the ads, and their attempts at defending themselves from the stereotype.
The ads were so successful that the commercial actors are appearing in a successful series of interactive websites written and produced by GEICO's in-house creative team at Caveman's Crib and most recently, iHeartcavemen. A spin off TV series, titled Cavemen and starring new actors, debuted on ABC in October 2007 to overwhelmingly negative critical reaction. It was canceled after only six episodes were aired.
My Great RidesEdit
In 2007, GEICO also launched a social networking site, My Great Rides, for motorcycle owners. My Great Rides is a place for cycle owners to share stories about trips they have taken on their bikes, as well as post pictures of their motorcycles, and comment on other members stories and pictures.
The number 7 car of the NASCAR Nationwide Series is driven by Mike Wallace and was sponsored by GEICO prior to 2009. Commercials involving the race team are of a memorably disdainful young boy, played by actor Eddie Heffernan claiming to be a relative of Mike Wallace and being a better driver. The boy says, "When people see Mike Wallace and the GEICO number 7 doing well, they'll think of saving a bunch of money on car insurance. But when they see me, they'll say, 'There goes Lauren Wallace; the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car.'"
The commercials are sometimes presented in an interview fashion, where an unseen narrator speaks to the ambitious go-kart driver. "What do you think of Mike Wallace?" the child is asked, to which he responds, "Whatever, he's out there selling car insurance, I'm out there to win." When questioned on his relation to the NASCAR driver, Lauren shakes his head and concludes, "I didn't say I wouldn't go fishing with the man, all I'm saying is if he comes near me, I'll put him in the wall." To which the narrator questions him, "You don't race in the Busch Series." Lauren replies "Listen, go-kart track, grocery store, those remote controlled boats; when it comes to Mike Wallace the story ends with me putting him in the wall."
New ads in this lineup include Lauren referring to himself as being, "100 miles away and ready to strike," and "lightning in a bottle."
The success of those ads resulted in the launch of an interactive website written and produced by GEICO's in-house creative team at GEICO Garage. The site includes cameo appearances by Lauren Wallace and drivers Mike Wallace, his daughter Chrissy Wallace, Speed TV's Tommy Kendall, Paul Tracy, Christian Fittipaldi and Max Papis.
15 Minutes OnlineEdit
Reminiscent of the old "Stupid Things" commercials, these show videos of people doing stupid things, such as running in hallways with pillows, done YouTube style.
TRS: The Real ScoopEdit
Introduced in September, 2007, this series of ads features an E! True Hollywood Story-type show about famed fictional characters such as Fred Flintstone, Jed Clampett, and even a Cabbage Patch Kid named Ben Winkler claiming to have their cars (the Flintmobile, Jed's 1923 Oldsmobile truck, and a Plymouth Reliant, respectively) insured by GEICO, featuring interviews with made-up investigators (however, the Ben Winkler spot does not have an interview). These commercials were voiced over by narrator David O'Brien.
Starting in 2008, GEICO has been airing a series of television ads featuring "The Money You Could Be Saving," in the form of two paper-banded stacks of U.S. bills with a pair of Googly eyes on top. This character is possibly similar to Fajo from Conker's Bad Fur Day and is known as "Kash". In some commercials, someone discovers this "character" (or "stalker") sitting nearby, and in others it simply stares at the camera while a voice-over talks about how it wants you to save money. These ads includes a remix by Mysto & Pizzi of the 1980s song "Somebody's Watching Me". During the Halloween 2009 season, GEICO tied in with HBO's True Blood series on bus bench ads and dressed up Kash in fang dentures.
Talking inanimate objectsEdit
In 2009, GEICO began a series of commercials featuring talking inanimate objects doing damage to cars. So far, they have used a talking tree limb falling on a windshield and breaking it. The tree limb makes fun of the car right before a smaller limb falls on the hood. The next one is a talking pothole with a thick southern girl accent causing a flat tire. The pothole somewhat apologizes then says she'll get her cell phone out and call a wrecker before realizing that she doesn't have one because she's a pothole. Other recent ones include a talking car bumper and talking husband and wife pipes that have Russian accents.
Robert Stack "Unsolved Mysteries" ParodyEdit
Another ad campaign GEICO released in late 2009 includes actor Mike McGlone looking into the camera and asking "Will GEICO save you money on your car insurance?" (or a similar question) followed by another question that has an obvious answer. In one commercial, the man asks, "Is Ed 'Too Tall' Jones too tall?" The commercial then cuts to a clip of Ed Jones being measured at a clinic with the measuring stick being too short. The clip is then followed by the slogan. Another commercial featured the same routine, only this time the second question was, "Does Charlie Daniels play a mean fiddle?" cutting to a clip of Daniels showing a restaurant violinist "how you do it" with another after that with the second question being, "Does Elmer Fudd have trouble with the letter 'R'?" followed by Elmer Fudd saying "We're hunting wabitts" and the "diwector" is "wubbing" him the "wong" way. Another question is, "Did the Waltons take way too long to say good night?" It then cuts to a scene where the Waltons family saying "good night" to each other numerous times. Another question is, "Does a ten pound bag of flour make a really big biscuit?", ending with a child buttering an enormous biscuit on the kitchen counter as his mom looks in, dismayed. The most recent rhetorical question, "Did the caveman invent fire?" naturally refers to a GEICO caveman. Sitting on his couch with his girlfriend, he looks disdainfully at the camera, then activates his fireplace by remote control.
Emma Watson moviesEdit
Main article: Emma Watson GEICO ads
- ↑ http://inoculatedinvestor.blogspot.com/2009/05/2009-berkshire-hathway-annual-meeting.html
- ↑ http://web.archive.org/web/20090514072408/http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-35522806_ITM
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Gecko wasn't first choice for GEICO. USA Today, July 16, 2006. Retrieved February 16, 2007.
- ↑ "Geico Gecko Campiagns". The Inspiration Room. Retrieved on 2010-04-22.
- ↑ "Advertising > Animal Mascots > Geico Gecko (GEICO Insurance)". tvacres.com. Retrieved on 2010-04-22.
- ↑ "Little Lizard Says 'Ello To A New Inflection", The Hartford Courant, 22 February 2006.
- ↑ "Geico Gecko Doing the Robot". Auto Insurance helper. Retrieved on 2010-04-22.
- ↑ ABC developing 'Cavemen' - Entertainment News, Pilot Watch, Media - Variety
- ↑ "Mike Wallace - NASCAR - Nationwide Series drivers". autoevolution. Retrieved on 2010-04-22.
- ↑ Montgomery, Lee (2008-12-01). Template:Citation/make link. scenedaily.com. http://www.scenedaily.com/news/articles/nationwideseries/GEICO_leaves_Mike_Wallace_scrambling_to_find_sponsor_for_2009_season.html. Retrieved 2010-04-22.
- ↑ "Lauren Wallace: 'I’m a hundred miles away, son, ready to strike'". NASCAR News (2008-05-01). Retrieved on 2010-04-22.
- ↑ "Geico Has the Best Car Insurance Ads in the Industry Bar None". Car Insurance 357 (2008-02-25). Retrieved on 2010-04-22.
- ↑ http://www.conker-base.com/artworks/6.jpg
- ↑ The Remake of "Somebody's Watching Me" at geico.com
- ↑ http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/alissa-walker/designerati/did-seasons-true-blood-campaign-achieve-immortality-or-just-plain-suc
- ↑ Malykhina, Elena (2009-12-28). Template:Citation/make link. Brand Week. http://www.brandweek.com/bw/content_display/news-and-features/direct/e3i5b1f69da4015d79c5ef9248f92c76983. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
- ↑ Llovio, Louis (2009-12-24). Template:Citation/make link. Richmond Times-Dispatch. http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/business/local/article/MART24_20091223-222005/313354/. Retrieved 2010-04-13.