Once upon a time, back in an era where beer commercials were all the talk and insurance ads tried to bully you into buying a policy, Geico took a stand.
They broke the mold.
Zigged when everyone else zagged.
And upended every other cliché you can think of.
Geico took on fear when fear was the category.
Are You in Good Hands?
Like a Good Neighbor.
The insurance industrial complex depicted a world where,
if you didn’t buy insurance, you’d immediately have a fatal heart attack
and your kids would end up as indentured servants, while your wife would now spending her evenings wearing a mini-skirt under a streetlamp.
Every spot seemed like a paternalistic nightmare.
But then Geico said, hold my beer.
They knew that no one wants to be scared into buying anything.
Especially a product you legally have to have.
That costs a lot of money.
And you never want to use.
Hell, if that was the case, no one would use soap.
Except it’s cheap.
But insurance isn’t.
That’s what’s key.
And it’s certainly no way to start a relationship.
Nor develop long-term loyalty.
Geico and the Martin Agency decided to trust people.
To trust that they’re smart.
That they understand what insurance does.
And that they want their insurance company to take
their jobs seriously, but not themselves.
And look where they are now.
Geico is a marketing juggernaut.
With ads that people actually look forward to seeing.
Campaigns every creative wishes they were working on.
It’s been an amazing run.
But lately, things seem to have shifted a bit.
Geico doesn’t seem so adventurous.
Leading me to wonder, Is Geico is finally succumbing to the
same fear that it once subdued? And seemed to have vanquished.
That’s the question here to answer today on Episode 44 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the curious world of creativity & marketing.
My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, where we have the gall to question advertising’s golden child, Geico.
Maxwell the Pig.
And the Grand Prix winning Unskippable pre-roll ads.
Who hasn’t seen and laughed at these smart, witty pieces of work?
Hit after hit. Staying ahead.
And not by outspending. But by being relevant.
How? The human truth.
It seemed like every ad found a new and unexpected way to drive home its point.
Keeping people excited to see what would come next.
Then it happened.
The most forward-looking advertiser in the business stopped dead in its tracks and decided to take a look back.
The Best of Geico campaign was announced.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I was excited to see some of these classic chestnuts.
That is until two things began to register with me:
- Maybe I loved seeing these old spots so much because I merely liked the new ones. Some of which seemed to try to push the envelope by inserting
Skittles-like randomness into the work. Weirdness over wit.
- For the first time I got the sneaking feeling that maybe, just maybe Geico had started to run out of ideas.
Check yourself, I said. Give them a chance. They certainly have earned it.
And then some.
So, I waited for their next thing. Deeply hoping that I was wrong.
Unfortunately, it happened again.
Geico Sequels was released.
Taking 5 popular characters from the past, Geico has created new scenarios for them.
Yet somehow, they don’t feel the same.
They seem…UnGeico. (If that’s a term.)
They seem like funny for funny sake.
And contrary to popular belief, that’s not what Geico does.
Geico at its best tells a simple human truth.
Even when expressed through a raccoon…
Someone trying to get you to nibble on something that they’ve
already declared to taste awful is a truth we’ve all experienced.
The sequel on the other hand is just a silly spoof of food truck foodies.
And while none of the sequels are bad, they’re just not as good as their originals.
Not to mention that the notion of sequels standing for ongoing savings seems like a tenuous thread that doesn’t get paid off strongly.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that our 20-year romance with Geico advertising is over.
I’m not even saying that this is the beginning of the end.
And I’m certainly not saying that people aren’t enjoying this stuff.
It’s certainly better than the vast majority of the dreck filling the media cesspool.
To their credit, as an ad guy, Geico and their legendary partners at the Martin Agency have made me care so much about their work that I’m protective of it. And they’re not even my insurer!
But the enemy of creativity is fear.
And I smell fear here.
Work that looks to the past instead of the future.
Remixes instead of fresh directions forward.
Who knows what’s going on.
New clients? New agency leads? Burnout?
I hope not.
I think that there’s lots of life left in the Geico brand and their marketing.
Time to Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)
…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m your host, Wegs, wondering out loud if advertising icon, Geico, needs to overcome the fear of the uncertain instead of getting trapped in the safety of the familiar. It’s not too late. And the earlier they innovate, the better.
Well, that about wraps up our 45th episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.
Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, and thanks again for listening in and supporting us. We’re now over 100 5-Star reserves.
Knowing that this may ruffle a few feathers, please feel free to reach out to me personally at email@example.com or NavigatingTheFustercluck.com, where you can find transcripts to this episode and every other of our 43 efforts. Finally, remember, we’re all in this together, if we have constructive criticism, we should share it. Even when it’s unpopular, we’ve got to keep each other honest. So thanks when you speak up with your unpopular opinions. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.