Geico: Marketing 301

Throughout the history of television, there have been mind-numbingly boring advertisements. They have frustrated viewers for decades by interrupting their entertainment for a (usually) dull and irrelevant 30-second block of garbage. At best, these boring ads quickly slipped out of consciousness and into the back of the mind. At worst, advertisements can cause a viewer to become angry enough to negatively influence the brand’s image. The vast majority of ads that I see either cause me to change the channel.gecko

Once every so often though, I see a funny ad. These funny bits do more than just break up the monotony of countless dry pharmaceutical advertisements and injury lawsuits. If they are funny enough, they can cause people to not only remember the ad and the product, but they can positively influence a viewer’s perception of the company. Enter GEICO

GEICO cavema

Insurance is surely one of the most boring of all services. No one talks about insurance until they need it; and when they do talk about it, it’s just to complain about it. Marketing and selling insurance surely must be a bland and boring enterprise as well, right?

It was for many years until a company with the most boring of names began a marketing effort that was anything but conventional. The Government Employees Insurance Company surely doesn’t sound like a fun group, but tell that to their animated gecko spokesperson, or his surprisingly intelligent Neanderthal counterparts. A funny side-note about the now famous GEICO gecko, he was introduced in 1999 when an actor’s strike prompted the Martin Advertising Agency (Whom are responsible for nearly all the famous GEICO ads in the last 2 decades) to create an animated spokesperson.

Advertisements aren’t what made GEICO the nation’s second largest car insurance vendor; in fact GEICO has been around since the mid 1930’s and had already sold a million policies by 1964.Warren Buffet bought his first GEICO stocks in 1951, but it wasn’t until Berkshire Hathaway bought the remaining GEICO stocks in 1995 that he vocally supported the large advertisement campaigns the company is famous for. In fact, Buffett is reported to have said that if it were up to him he would effectively double the advertising budget to $2 billion. (In 2010 GEICO spent $1.1 billion on advertising and marketing efforts.

Warren Buffet

Since the early 1990’s GEICO has spent the most on advertising out of all the major insurance companies. They are able to do this by going straight to the consumer, thusly eliminating the commissions that other insurance companies pay to their agents. Throughout the past couple decades GEICO has used unconventional advertisements: (“15 minutes”, the Gecko, the Cavemen, and now Maxwell the pig), to reach a larger number of consumers than the competitors. Some of the newer ads aren’t funny, but they still are memorable. And in the end, that’s what counts.

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Vive Bracelets to Help Party Safely

In a college town like Amherst it is inevitable that there will be weekend nights you don’t entirely remember; either that, or nights that you spend searching for one of your friends who got separated from the group. But now, it seems, you may be able to party a little bit more safely.

Recently, at the annual design expo at Microsoft’s Research Faculty Summit a group of students at the University of Washington presented Vive, a non-working prototype for a bracelet that can detect your alcohol and dehydration levels. Not only that, but Vive can connect you to your friends or ‘party group’ through social media and enable you to alert them if you get too drunk or get into an uncomfortable situation. Furthermore, the bracelet checks in on you periodically, and if you don’t respond to the check-in it will alert the rest of your party group immediately.

While I initially thought this idea was a little over the top, and admittedly couldn’t get over how unappealing the bracelets looked aesthetically, I was pretty impressed by how the product was marketed. The group proposed entering the market through events that involve alcohol such as music festivals, raves, concerts, and college parties. The Vive bracelets would act to replace entry wristbands at party venues, and could even be returned to the venues at the end of the night to be reused at future events. Though there are obvious safety benefits to using these bracelets at such events, the innovators also marketed the fun side of the bracelets.


By tapping your Vive bracelet to someone else’s bracelet, you are automatically connected to the other person’s Facebook profile when you log onto yours and have the option to friend request that person. This cuts out awkward phone number exchanges and allows you to take a second look at the people you met at party events, and potentially connect with them further. As a college student, to me this seemed like a fun and innovative new way to meet people. Moreover, it would be nice to not have to babysit your irresponsible friends, or have them babysit you if you get too drunk.

The University of Washington group ultimately said they envisioned the accessory becoming autonomous of party venues and becoming something everyone has and doesn’t leave home without. They plan to look into making the bracelet more visually pleasing (yay) and smaller. For me, they really sold the product. While at first I was skeptical and didn’t think I’d really want or need a Vive bracelet, I wanted one for my friends and myself by the end of their sales pitch presentation video, which proved that even I couldn’t deny the value proposition of the product.

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Anyone Want To Buy Some Pork?

Market the Mammal

            Have you ever thought about what to make for dinner and had nothing come to mind? As a food management major I have had trouble with this a lot, as I’m sure most people have. One thing that’s being done is the pork industry is advertising the meat in general. Usually you see brand names come across the screen or restaurants, rarely an entire meat industry. In order to have people think of pork as something more than just one thing like a roast or a certain brand they might not like, the National Pork Board has started airing commercials showing the different applications of the product and launched a website with different recipes and information about it.

Appeal to Inspiration

            The pork industry came up with the slogan, “Be Inspired.” When it comes to cooking you can do anything you want so inspiration is a huge thing. The first time I saw this I actually was inspired and went and bought some. There’s a win for their books. Featuring all of the recipes on their webpage also draws people to it, the images and write-ups make an interesting read and all market the same thing, pork. The commercials show all sorts of different gatherings like cookouts and parties while showing tons of different dishes showcasing this product. Seeing happy people and vibrant images always draws consumers and challenging them to create something by calling on their inspiration is an even better trick. The most interesting thing about this whole campaign for me is that it is on the broad product of “pork.” To me it’s like advertising crackers instead of Cheez-Its or Ritz. It worked on me though. I was inspired and continue to be through the constant reminders and media outlets used by the National Pork Board.

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My Summer at Chatham Bars Inn

This summer I was fortunate enough to work at the luxury resort Chatham Bars Inn as a guest service agent. It is safe to say I experienced a lot in the guest services department from early May to late August. During this time period, Chatham Bars Inn celebrated its 100th anniversary. Naturally, the resort was hosting many events using various marketing techniques. The centennial anniversary was exposed through social media and print advertising, and featured on the popular news series Chronicle.

The resort had signs and brochures listing the events across the resort and places all through the small town of Chatham. People would come to the front desk inquiring about the celebrations when there was a sign directly in front of them with answers to their questions. What I soon discovered was the guests were more attracted to the episode of Chronicle or Chatham Bars Inn pulled up on their electronics. People were constantly asking about pictures from the Chatham Bars Inn location on Instagram along with the separate Chatham Bars Inn instagram account. Since I was at the front desk, I communicated with the sales department when the Chronicle director arrived onto the property. I also heard the feedback from the guests about the events and what they thought of our resort on Chronicle. This experience gave me some insight to both sides of the marketing industry. I was able to see all the work and efforts of the sale and marketing department, and then how guests were reacting to it.

Also, I was surprised to learn was how often guests particularly older guests would approach me with an Ipad or Iphone already in hand ready to access the hotel’s social media. My home life this summer reflected this as well. I would come home to my grandmother twitching her thumbs over her Ipad. She would be constantly checking the ads for stores such as Ocean State Job Lot and Shaw’s. Of course, I have not been living under a rock the past ten years and was well aware of the addiction to technology in society. It was illustrated to me this summer the connection with social media and marketing is becoming stronger and stronger. The world is changing with advertising, straying away from not just being accessible with your eyes but the sliding of fingers. My summer at Chatham Bars Inn provided me with insight on both sides of the marketing field, and allowed me to see the power in social media and technology associated with it.

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Why do I already want the new Iphone?

Hello blog readers,

My name is Mitch Feldman, and I am addicted to apple products….Jeez, almost sounds like a support group introduction, but the fact of the matter is that I truly feel I am addicted. It all started when I bought my very first IPhone 4s. Knowing that I had an upgrade in the coming, and at around the same time of my upgrade, the new IPhone was being released, I needed it. Of course in my preparation for the arrival of the newly anticipated phone, I had to do my research. Every day after school, I would immediately come off the bus and look up youtube videos and read articles about the upcoming device. Finally, after my induction ceremony to the National Honors Society, my parents purchased me the IPhone 4s. My gateway device.

Fast forward to 2014. I now own a Macbook Pro, an apple IPad, and the IPhone 5s. Recently apple released the new IPhone 6, and unfortunately (or fortunately) for me, the screen on my IPhone is broken. Although I know it is a waste of money, and I could just buy an older phone for much cheaper, something inside me wants the IPhone 6 badly. How does apple make me feel this way?

At first I thought I was just a delusional individual with an obsession, but now I see the same thing happening with people around me. Walk into a college classroom and the glowing apples staring back at you will prove my point. That is exactly the reason we love the apple products. We love the apple products because of the apple. There are many products on the market that are extremely similar if not better than the apple products, but what apple does extremely well is branding. Stamping the apple logo will instantly make a product sell.

The other thing that apple does well is interweaving all of their products. If its on my IPhone, its also on my mac, and my IPad. If I were to switch to a different product, many aspects of my life would be directly affected. All of the apps I add on my devices make the switching cost increasingly higher. Brilliantly, apple markets their products as being interlaced, and the fact that they are interlaced makes it that much harder to switch.

Regardless of whether or not the new IPhone bends, because it has that apple logo, I want it.

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Normal Tuesday –> Special Tuesday

Screen shot 2014-09-30 at 7.50.17 PM

An adventure to the new renovated Blue Wall Cafe at UMass, Amherst.

It’s 1:30pm, a normal Tuesday afternoon. It’s the first day of the class, and I am hungry. ‘Where should I go to get my first lunch for this new semester? I need something new and fresh right now’

The destination I choose to go to is the new renovated dining facility called “Blue Wall Cafe”. Where exactly is it? What is it like to have lunch there? I found answers with my little experience on a normal Tuesday afternoon..

Once you reach to Campus Center at UMass, follow through a long maze that eventually leads you to “Blue Wall Cafe”. You will pass through a lot of rooms including a barbershop!

The first scenery that is exposed to your sight is a LOT of people. Tens of lines of people waiting for their food to come out. There are TEN different food stations. American, Italian, Mexican, Asian, you name it. You will be overwhelmed by a variety of choices. For me, I choose “Star Ginger”, because I’m South Korean and I love Asian food. Rice is my main meal everyday you know. The food I choose is grilled lemon chicken w/ rice and salad for the side. ‘I got plenty of time to try different food in other days’. I really liked it. Grilled lemon chicken, rice, and salad are perfect combination for a foreigner like me.

The interior of “Blue Wall Cafe” is simple and spacious which creates the atmosphere of happiness and full of vitality with people in it. It’s not just a eating place, but a socializing place with variety of people. Good food makes everyone happy, and good people is an extra.

So how about trying this new “Blue Wall Cafe” for your lunch? This renovated facility will save your time a lot between classes, and you will be provided with almost the same quality of food that you have in other Dining Commons. Provided with a variety of choices, you will be overwhelmed, and your normal Tuesday won’t be like normal Tuesday, but special Tuesday.

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U2: Given to U for free, only 2 be deleted later

Earlier this month, I was listening to music on my Iphone on shuffle, when a U2 song started to play. The song, “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone),” was one of eleven songs that I did not recall purchasing. Looking more into it I had soon realized that U2 and Apple had partnered up to distribute U2’s latest album “Songs of Innocence,” which is now the largest album purchase in history for FREE. Now giving away samples has always been a marketing strategy on a smaller scale, but to give away an entire album for free….

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The gift from Apple of course had a side deal with U2 in order to buy the album and distribute it freely to half a billion customers. The benefits for this bold marketing scheme has created a vast amount of conversation (positive and negative) for both U2 and Apple.

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Earlier in the year Beyonce distributed a surprise album only using word of mouth to market. Seeing the success with that had to have played a role in the decision for U2 and Apple to seek such innovative marketing techniques, much more aggressive techniques. However, there is a famous saying that Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) and Bono (U2 singer) did not recall. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.

The Apple customers are speaking up against the generous gift from Cook. Complaining to the point that Apple has now created an easy walk through to remove the new album from all Apple devices. After spending again roughly $100 million dollars on an ad campaign to distribute the new album, people are complaining about it. As a college student anything free is good enough for me, but then again Apple should have at least offered the album to its customers for free. Giving customers an option would have been much better than forcing it into Iphones with the new software upgrade.

So this brings us to the point, was the move worth it? An attempt to draw more attention for U2’s upcoming tour and encourage more people to sign up for Itunes, which if you do not have at this point you are behind the eight ball. Could this be the turning point that other innovators need to bring down a monopoly named after a fruit? Or was this all a plan to gather the attention of the media and customers indirectly in order to bring more attention to the Iphone 6 and new Apple watch?

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