GEICO – Geckos, Caveman, and Kash, Oh My!

August 6, 2009 at 10:46 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, economy, Florida, marketing, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

GeicoI doubt that when Leo Goodwin founded Government Employees Insurance Company, GEICO, in 1936 the thought crossed his mind that the company would produce such a hailstorm of odd characters as to make the Brothers Grimm jealous. No doubt it’s great to have an effective and well developed ad campaign for your company. Advertisements have life spans and like anything else once they have surpassed their usefulness it’s time to let them go. With this in mind, I ask myself “why is it possible that during a one our television show I can see three completely different and distinct advertisements for one company?” Why is GEICO going through such a spastic identity crisis?

To begin the journey through GEICO’s multiple personalities we have to go back to the last millennium to the Screen Actor’s Guild strikes of 1999. The Martin Agency came up with the idea of using an anthropomorphic Gecko in attempts to work around the strike. Originally voiced by Kelsey Grammer, the GEICO Gecko now has an English accent. After 10 years we’re getting a little tired of him, but Day Geckos can live for up to 15 year so I guess they’ll keep animating him at for least 5 more.

Since 2004 GEICO has been running the Caveman commercials. These commercials originally aired with the tagline “so easy, a caveman could do it.” The caveman ads proved to be so successful that ABC decided to make a sitcom based on the idea – it was the shortest-lived ABC sitcom of 2007, quietly sinking away into obscurity. Over the years the company has dedicated several websites in the caveman’s honor, all of them have been shut down. Even in their death throws the caveman GEICO commercials live on. The ad has been around so long that the tagline doesn’t even need to be present anymore – in the most recent ad we witness the caveman just running down a street to the song “Let me be myself” by 3 Doors Down. What does it mean? I still don’t know.

For a little while GEICO aired commercials featuring “real GEICO customers” telling their stories while celebrities embellished and narrated the tale. These featured celebrities like Charo, Little Richard, and Don LaFontaine to name a few. I actually liked these; they came, made their mark, and then left with dignity.

In 2008 we were subjected to a stack of money with eyes named Kash. The “googly-eyed” character reminds me of the old Florida Orange Juice commercial with a talking sandwich, just not nearly as cool (if that was even cool). The character for me is creepy and, frankly annoying. I get it, it’s a stack of money, his name is Kash, he follows people around to remind them they can save money – I just can’t get behind a creepy sales persona who stalks people.

So in 10 years we have had nearly 20 years worth of advertising space dedicated to GEICO – I think I saw that in The Butterfly Effect. It’s time that GEICO saw a therapist and worked through it’s multiple personality disorders. Let the Gecko live out his golden years in retirement, the cavemen should be allowed to party all night hassle free, and, please, put a restraining order out on Kash!

Advertisements

Permalink Leave a Comment

Ad Age Celebrity

July 9, 2009 at 1:18 pm (advertising, Branding, commercials, marketing, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

News1_0

Sure we know Billy Mays, Anthony Sullivan, and the ShamWow Guy because their job is for us to remember them, trust them, and as a result buy their amazingly life changing products. But what about the actors who have repeating roles on commercials?

In the past we had some memorable endorsers, such as Donavan Freberg – the Encyclopedia Britannica Kid, but now there seems to be a new and growing multitude of these single product (or company) pitchmen.

Starting in 2001 we were introduced to Paul Marcarelli – the Verizon guy who brought us the “Can you hear me know” phrase. They’ve even gone so far as to bring the “network” to an actual customer (or so it seems). Some people claim the phrase is more popular than the service.

We had the GEICO Caveman ads, which have aired for GEICO Insurance since 2004. The ad series has produced 19 commercials to date, had a short-lived TV spin-off, and has also had viral videos, websites, and a short film made with the characters.

2006 brought us the “Get a Mac” commercials with John Hodgman as a PC and Justin Long as a Mac. The American version of this ad runs in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, while other spin-offs are shown with different actors in Britain and Japan, according to wikipedia. The number of TV and web based ads for this campaign is nearing 70 for the US and Canada alone.

In 2008 we were introduced to Flo, the friendly & helping Progressive Insurance cashier played by Stephanie Courtney. The actress, already known by some for her work with The Groundlings, has an ever-growing fan base.

So who will be the next great ad age celebrity? Time can only tell, but for now we have some strong competitors.

Permalink 2 Comments