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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