Is the Martin Agency (GEICO’s ad agency) nuts? I think so. They created arguably one of the most memorable franchises in recent advertising history — the GEICO gecko — and now they’re using the critter to ridicule GEICO itself. I’m referring of course to the new round of ads that pits the “clever creature” against a fictional GEICO executive. We see bad idea after bad idea come from the hapless exec — from falling on the gecko “to show trust” to creating miniature 3-piece suits. Really makes me confident in GEICO as a company.
While the approach probably tests well with 20-somethings and gets written off internally as “cheeky”, I think making your own management look stupid is just flat out bad strategy. In the current environment, people already have a profound mistrust of insurance and financial companies. Does making your green gecko spokesperson look smarter than your executive team help?
Some may say, what about Jack in the Box’s commercials? Jack is often surrounded by corporate idiots isn’t he? The difference, and I think it’s a big one, is that Jack represents the CEO spot as hip, smart and in-charge. It’s still snarky and still pokes fun at the company but in a much less brand destructive manner.
Call me old school. While this new direction for the gecko may be fun and games for the agency, I think it’s bad for business in the long run. There are better targets than your own upper management.