GEICO advertising campaigns
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GEICO advertising campaigns are known for using humour and satire, often featuring distinctive characters such as the company's mascot, the GEICO gecko. The advertising 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 "15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance."
Warren Buffett, owner of GEICO parent Berkshire Hathaway, has stated that he would spend $2 billion on GEICO ads if he could, far exceeding the $994 million spent in 2011. Approximately 6.5% of the company's premiums are spent on advertising.
Animated advertisements 
Animated advertisements were part of the early GEICO Direct ads as well as the "Dumb Things" campaign. The 15-second long commercials, animated by Bill Plympton, featured a curious little man walking up to an object and eventually getting hurt due to his curiosity of the object. One of the commercials, for example, involved him finding a cannon and pressing a button, causing a resulting cannonball to fire out and stick to his face. The original saying in the commercial was "You could still save money on car insurance. Even if you made a few mistakes."; later modified to "We all do dumb things. Paying too much for car insurance doesn't have to be one of them."
Individual advertisements 
GEICO has presented a number of memorable one shot ads. Amongst these are:
- A white duck says, "Am I on? (clears throat) GEICO Direct could save you hundreds of money on car insurance. Result..." (The duck then removes his beak, revealing a smaller one. He continues, in a high-pitched voice) "...Smaller bill."
- A man, whose insurance company didn't offer a loaner vehicle, left his house while covered in magnets and "bummed a ride" by attaching himself to a passing car.
- 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".
- 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, followed by a comparison shot of a regular insurance company's small coffee mug and GEICO's big coffee mug.
- A police unit tracks the source of an apparent earthquake, only to find an obese man joyously jumping up and down over the money that GEICO saved him.
- A man employs a team of bloodhounds to find his Acme Insurance agent after hours but finds only a terrified janitor in the building.
- 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 man places a long-distance collect phone call through an operator, claiming to be named Bob Wehaddababyitsaboy to get his message across without having the call's recipient billed. 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. Having survived, the squirrel performs a celebratory series of fist bumps and high fives with another squirrel.
- The camera tilts up to a night sky to show a constellation of a car, the windshield of which is hit by a comet.
- On his way to participate in spokesperson auditions, the gecko runs into the Taco Bell chihuahua which says "Oh great, a talking gecko."
- While an ACME worker is at her desk, a man is seen going back and forth before falling through a trapdoor.
The GEICO Gecko 
The company's ads sometimes focus on its reptilian mascot, The Gecko, an anthropomorphic Day Gecko created by The Martin Agency, later modified to a CGI creature by Framestore CFC. The gecko first appeared in 1999 during the Screen Actors Guild strike that prevented the use of live actors. The original commercial features the Gecko, voiced by actor Kelsey Grammer, pleading for people to stop calling him in error as he is a gecko not to be confused with GEICO. 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 a British Cockney accent, because it would be unexpected, according to Martin Agency's Steve Bassett. In 2010s 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."
Maxwell the Pig 
Maxwell is an anthropomorphic talking pig and something of a recurring character in a few Geico advertisements. Maxwell debuted in an installment of the Rhetorical Questions campaign as the "little piggy who cried 'wee wee' all the way home" (referencing the famous nursery rhyme "This Little Piggy") being driven home by a friend's mother, squealing along the way. While Maxwell was originally intended as a one-time character, the popularity of his debut commercial resulted in his appearance in a few other advertisements, including a radio commercial. Coin banks manufactured in his likeness were even available at one point. However, he has not acquired as much of an iconic status as the Geico gecko himself.
At the end of 2011, Maxwell the Pig returned to advertise the new GEICO app.
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.
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 Verne Troyer, Tony Little, Little Richard, Joan Rivers, Peter Frampton, Don LaFontaine, The Pips, 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?"
The parody pitch crossed over to the Caveman campaign in 2007, in a 10-second spot that appears to be a talking heads news interview, but features the popular caveman.
In response to some of the parody ads, Seth Green and Matthew Senreich wrote a sketch using the character Jar Jar Binks in a parody of one of the celebrity ads for their second Robot Chicken Star Wars special.
"I've got good news" 
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 offers helpfully, "I've got good news: 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; one featured the popular anime character Speed Racer. 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.
Bland salesman 
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 a group of uninterested children 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.
Blueprint commercials 
GEICO also has several only blue-and-white ads, coined as "blueprint commercials", that focus on getting the point across that GEICO is "saving people money on more than just car insurance" (such as motorcycle, RV, boat, etc.), accompanied by the song "Gimme What I Want" by DCP Productions.
My Great Rides 
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.
GEICO Racing 
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 Online 
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. YouTube celebrity Brandon Hardesty also appeared in one such commercial, which included a clip from one of his famous Strange Faces videos.
TRS: The Real Scoop 
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.
The money you could be saving 
In 2008, GEICO began 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. In some commercials, someone discovers this character 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 objects 
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 belle 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.
Rhetorical Questions Campaign 
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Toward the end of 2009, GEICO introduced another advertising campaign in which Mike McGlone walks into an empty room and queries the viewer, "Could switching to GEICO really save you 15% or more on car insurance?" After this, he pauses and then asks a rhetorical and/or obvious question which is immediately followed by a scene cut to the subject at hand.
Such questions have included (in no particular order):
Television ads 
- "Is Ed "Too Tall" Jones too tall?" (Cuts to Jones in a doctor's office being measured for his height, even though he is too tall for the maximum length of the measure. The nurse then says, "I'm just gonna guesstimate.")
- "Does Charlie Daniels play a mean fiddle?" (Cuts to Daniels energetically playing a fiddle in a classy restaurant after taking it from a violinist. Once he finishes, he hands it back and states "That's how you do it, son".)
- "Does Elmer Fudd have trouble with the letter R?" (Cuts to Elmer hunting and telling the audience to be "vewy quiet" while he's "hunting wabbits", the director correcting his rhotacism to the former's frustration, and eventually stalking off the screen while muttering about how "this diwector is starting to wub me the wong way".)
- "Did The Waltons take way too long to say good night?" (Cuts to the Walton family saying "good night" to each other numerous times.)
- "Does a ten pound bag of flour make a really big biscuit?" (Cuts to a child buttering an enormous biscuit on the kitchen counter humming as his mom walks in with a dismayed look upon her face.)
- "Did the caveman invent fire?" (Cuts to the GEICO caveman sitting in a living room on a couch with a female companion. He looks disdainfully at the camera, then activates the fireplace by remote control before scowling at the camera once more.)
- "Was Abe Lincoln honest?" (Cuts to an old-style black and white film of Mary Todd Lincoln asking "Does this dress make my backside look big?" After a lengthy pause and deliberation, Lincoln sheepishly responds, saying "Perhaps a...", interrupted as she gets up and walks out perturbed.)
- "Is having a snowball fight with pitching great Randy Johnson a bad idea?" (Cuts to Johnson helping a man to his feet, the latter with a hole in the arm of his jacket, in a snowy street. After lamenting the heavily damaged garage door behind them, they agree to go sledding instead.)
- "Is a bird in the hand worth two in the bush?" (Cuts to an Antiques Roadshow appraiser examining a small statue of a human hand holding a bird. He tells the statue's owner that it is indeed worth at least two in the bush.)
- "Can fútbol announcer Andrés Cantor make any sport exciting?" (Cuts to Cantor loudly and energetically calling a slow-paced chess match, yelling his trademark "¡GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!".)
- "Does a former drill sergeant make a terrible therapist?" (Cuts to R. Lee Ermey talking to a man on a psychiatrist's couch, then abruptly yelling at him for crying and then throws a box of tissues at him, calling him a crybaby.)
- "Do woodchucks chuck wood?" (Cuts to a jovial pair of woodchucks throwing chopped logs into a pond and being admonished by the farmer who chopped them.)
- "Did the little piggy cry 'wee wee wee' all the way home?" (Cuts to a pig named Maxwell riding in the back seat of an SUV holding pinwheels, yelling "wee wee wee" out the window, before being dropped off at his house by his friend's exasperated mother.) (See section Maxwell the Pig)
- "Does it take two to tango?" (Cuts to a man and woman dancing the tango while another man tries to dance with them.)
- "What, do you live under a rock?" (Cuts to a man living underground who moves a rock so he can raise his head above ground to see outside, and then gets excited when he sees a GEICO billboard and invites his friend Rick to move his own rock and take a peek.)
- "Does the buck stop here?" (The camera zooms out as a deer walks onto the soundstage and stops next to McGlone, who then shrugs his shoulders.)
- "Do dogs chase cats?" (Cuts to a dog and cat engaged in a Bullitt-style car chase.)
- "Is the pen mightier than the sword?" (Cuts to a ninja menacingly demonstrating his swordsmanship to his opponent, who countermaneuvers by using a pen to sign for the delivery of his new taser, with which he promptly defeats the ninja.)
- "Would Foghorn Leghorn make a really bad book narrator?" (Cuts to a recording studio where Foghorn is reading "A Tale of Two Cities"—his ad-libbing and talking over the director cause an exasperated Henery Hawk to get up from the control panel and whack him with a club.)
- “Do people use smartphones to do dumb things?” (Cuts to 3 office workers using very silly smartphone apps to help celebrate the end of the workweek.)
Radio ads 
- "Would helium make opera sound less stuffy" (Cuts to male opera singer singing in a deep voice, then inhaling helium, and continuing in a high-pitched voice.)
- "Do mimes make even less sense when you can't see them?" (Cuts to a narrator describing a mime pretending to be inside an invisible box.)
- "Is sneaking out of a really boring meeting while wearing tap shoes a bad idea?" (Cuts to a boring meeting with tap shoes in the background, until the boss catches on.)
- "Does a rolling stone gather no moss?" (Cuts to the sound of a boulder rolling through various things until it crashes to a stop, with McGlone then saying, "No moss -- you're gonna have to trust me on this one.")
- "Do only dogs hear dog whistles?" (Cuts to the sound of someone breathing in, then blowing in a dog whistle a few times, before being interrupted by several barking dogs.)
- "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a noise?" (Cuts to the sound of a tree falling and crashing, with McGlone then saying, "Yep.")
- "Is texting getting way out of hand?" (McGlone then begins to elaborate, but is interrupted and distracted by several incoming texts, ultimately responding to one message with "LOL, UR my BFF.")
- "Can you find anything on the internet? "
Short Stories and Tall Tales 
Starting in 2010, there have been TV commercials in which a nursery rhyme, being read to the audience from an illustrated book entitled Short Stories and Tall Tales, turns into an ad for GEICO homeowner's insurance:
- In one, the cow who jumped over the moon crashes down through someone's roof; luckily, the owner was insured with GEICO.
- In another, the Itsy Bitsy Spider's home is flooded as a result of a clogged downspout, and his mattress is ruined; thanks to GEICO, he now has a "Sleep Number" bed. His sleep number is 25.
- A burglar breaks into Little Miss Muffet's house and steals her tuffets, which were fortunately insured. The burglar was later caught, given away by a whey stain.
Near the end of 2010, a new advertising campaign began made up of amateurish computer animated advertisements, supposedly made in 15 minutes, created with the computer software program Xtranormal.
Easier Way to Save 
Starting in the summer of 2011, a new series of advertising involved people discovering unusual ways to save money.
- A couple teaching their 6 year old son how to dunk a basketball in order to help him get a scholarship, with him getting stuck on the basket.
- A dog and a cockatoo playing A-Ha's "Take On Me" because their owner can't afford to keep downloading music.
- A sea captain living as a roommate, rehearsing "Major-General's Song."
- A woman turning her daughter's pet fish into her husband's meal.
- Robots hired in a daycare center because they "work for free".
- Three guinea pigs rowing their boat to produce electricity for their owner's computer.
- A couple adopting a black rescue panther who can protect their house.
- A man singing a personal ad to the tune of Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" because dating websites cost too much money
- Three middle school girls criticize on what the man is eating, only to watch his weight.
- A family forming their own theme park.
- Boy Scouts using paintball guns to decorate a couple's living room.
- A man adopting a pet possum for his kids, as a cheaper alternative to a puppy.
- A man who tries to cut his wife's hair, while she sleeps, instead of going to the hairstylist.
- A man who can only rely on toll-free numbers.
- A man consolidating his 5 daughters' weddings into one day.
- A woman carpooling with her daughter's school bus.
- An umpire who cannot pay for his contacts, using the lost pair of eyeglasses he found.
- A man turning his bathroom shower into an amusement attraction, instead of taking his family to an amusement park.
- A man using carrier pigeons to send letters because of the high cost of postage stamps.
- A man who can't spend money on the Internet for his home, thus using his neighbor's unprotected connection.
- A woman who is dreaming of being in Machu Picchu because she cannot buy Airline tickets.
Get Happy, Get GEICO 
Starting in 2012, GEICO ran TV commercials in which two men named Ronny (played by Director / Musician Alex Harvey) and Jimmy (played by Actor / Comedian Timothy Ryan Cole), respectively, talk about how happy saving money on insurance can make someone, and using examples intended to be humorous:
- Gallagher runs amok at a farmer's market, smashing watermelons with a huge mallet and laughing maniacally; people who save by switching to GEICO are happier than Gallagher at a farmer's market.
- A smiling bodybuilder is standing in an intersection and directing traffic while striking poses; saving money on car insurance makes people happier than a bodybuilder directing traffic.
- Christopher Columbus is shown on a speeding motoboat, accompanied by two other boats, while a crew member looks seasick; the tag is that saving money makes you happier than Christopher Columbus with speedboats.
- A family is shown sitting in front of a desk in an office. An excited Eddie Money is then shown behind the desk holding airline tickets, where he begins singing (a capella), "I've got Two Tickets to Paradise" while the family appears increasingly annoyed; the tag is that saving money makes you happier than Eddie Money running a travel agency.
- A witch is seen flying around on a broom inside of a broom factory. She lands and demands another broom from one of the employees and begins flying again, laughing and having fun; the tag is that saving money makes you happier than a witch in a broom factory.
- A Slinky is seen steeping backwards on an up escalator. While the Slinky goes backwards, others try to avoid it as they go to work and the slinky says "This is Awesome!" The tag is that saving money makes you happier than a slinky on an escalator.
- Two antelope are seen watching a lion through nightvision goggles. The two are secretly laughing at the lion and his poor stealth kills. The tag is that saving money makes you happier than an antelope with nightvision goggles.
- Dikembe Mutumbo appears blocking various things that people throw, such as a crumpled piece of paper, a pile of laundry, and a box of cereal. The tag is that saving money makes you "happier than Dikembe Mutumbo blocking a shot." The GEICO Logo then appears and Mutumbo knocks off the "G".
- Paul Revere who was inside of a home in Concord, Massachusetts, noticed a bell ringing from a church. As he looks out of the window, he calls on his cell phone and warns that the British are coming. Afterwards, he returns to his guests and plays charades. The tag is that saving money makes you happier than Paul Revere with a cell phone.
- At a blood drive, Dracula asks a man his blood type and what he ate today. The man replies either A or B positive and that he ate lebanese food. Dracula says that he loves the Lebanese. He then excitedly decides to skip the formalities and get started. The tag is that saving money makes you happier than Dracula volunteering at a Blood Drive. 
- At an airport, the Pillsbury Doughboy is going through airport security, but every time the security guard tries to pat him down, he is easily tickled. He promises to hold it together, but keeps failing. The tag is that saving money makes you happier than the Pillsbury Doughboy on his way to a baking convention. After both men said that tag, the Doughboy sings along as they continue playing guitar.
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- "GEICO Bodybuilder Commercial - Happier Than a Body Builder Directing Traffic". YouTube. 2012-08-03. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "GEICO Christopher Columbus Commercial - Happier Than Christopher Columbus with Speedboats". YouTube. 2012-08-16. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "GEICO Two Tickets to Paradise Commercial - Happier Than Eddie Money Running a Travel Agency". YouTube. 2012-08-24. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "GEICO Witch Commercial - Happier Than a Witch in a Broom Factory". YouTube. 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "GEICO Slinky Commercial - Happier Than A Slinky On An Escalator". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "GEICO Night Vision Commercial - Happier than an Antelope with Night Vision Goggles". YouTube. 2012-11-01. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "GEICO Dikembe Mutombo Commercial - Happier Than Dikembe Mutombo Blocking a Shot". YouTube. 2013-02-01. Retrieved 2013-03-03.