By Adam Kaz
Geico may be the only company that understands total universality in advertising. Maybe this is a bold claim, but I would venture to argue that Geico has solved the age old problem of finding subject matter with intrinsic value to all their viewers. This is not an easy feat. With this country’s vast array of demographics, how can you possibly create an ad that all viewers can connect to? Perhaps even more amazing than Geico’s solution to this problem is the glaring obviousness of its answer.
The question, “What do all consumers have in common” is answered in the question. They’re all consumers. Therefore, the least common denominator of subject matter would have to be the advertisement itself.
This could explain Geico’s 2014 television campaign that began the same way, which shows a person seeing a Geico ad.
“Did you know 15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance,” one asks to another person.
“Of course, everybody knows that.”
Art imitates life in these strangely meta ads, as consumers watch Geico portray consumers.
It’s no surprise that this campaign came from an agency rather than in-house work from the company. Geico the company is concerned with how people consume their service. However, Geico the brand is concerned with how people consume the image of their service. You can imagine this advertisement as a copywriter’s dream; an artistic representation of the people they think about day in and day out– the average consumer.
Maybe we can imagine these ads as a mirror. Martin Agency (the Richmond based advertiser for Geico) has shown what the screen sees when we stare at its advertisements. Unfortunately, the image doesn’t look very appealing.
The opening characters are blasé, dimly lit and unbearably passive aggressive. They are
seen in everyday locations, usually associated with routine and passive disinterest, e.g., an elevator, a long car ride, a movie theater, an office, a construction site, a living room.
The characters never start by looking at each other. Since the ad within the advertisement is the main plot device, one character has to turn away to acknowledge the ad. This ostracizes the other character from the point of the story.
The only conversation they have is a short-lived, strained exchange about Geico’s promise to save 15 percent or more on car insurance. Rather than present this information as a revelation, as most ads would, the observation is relayed from the advertisement to the characters with disinterest and a hint of contempt.
Maybe this is Geico’s apology for their aggressive ad campaigns.
The Geico executive thinks, “We’ve told these people the same message year after year, they must be sick of it.”
This could be an advertiser’s representation of Geico’s greatest fear, that a company founded on uncompromising promise of swiftness and affordability, has overtaxed itself with advertisements. The very public they promised to serve now sees them as a detestable intrusion in their lives, so much that the mention of their tagline is followed by a series of condescending retorts.
Martin Agency’s Chief Communications Officer Dean Jarrett doesn’t quite see it that way.
“I understand what you’re saying, but I really don’t think the creative’s team intention was necessarily all that calculated in that regard,” Jarret said. “It was really a device that we used that we thought would have a lot of legs, that we could think of a lot of executions that could be a part of that campaign and that they would deliver with Geico really well in terms of being memorable, getting the message across and hopefully being entertaining.”
Whether or not Martin Agency actively meant this campaign as an apology or a reenactment of their public can be argued for years. However, I refuse to believe that these soulless consumers were made by chance. Even if they were born from some quiet part of a copywriter’s brain their inclusion in this campaign has to carry some meaning, right?
“Of course, everybody knows that.”