The GEICO… Body Builder?

As the economy begins to pick up its pace once again, businesses have to stay on top of their IMC strategies so that they can stand out over their competitors. In order to do this, many companies have delved into the tactic of creating commercials that are often silly and strange. GEICO Auto Insurance is one company in particular that has had unique marketing tactics since day one, but has recently stepped their game up (or down?) with their interesting and quirky commercials. One of their most recent commercials includes two guys that play guitar and a mandolin who talk about how happy saving money on insurance could make someone. The guitarists on stage are located among a backdrop of cars zooming past, and a bodybuilder directing traffic. This definitely shows the quirky and fun character that the GEICO brand has created with its advertisements in the past. This commercial seems to be intended to make the audience laugh and view GEICO in a lighthearted way, but the commercial also diverges from the traditional GEICO commercials we are familiar with. What happened to our friendly GEICO lizard?!

From the many GEICO commercials we’ve seen in the past, we would expect to see the GEICO lizard. However, in this one he does not make an appearance at all. The question is: does this help or hurt the mission of GEICO? As viewers, we become accustomed to certain characteristics within advertisements for a company and the absence of our affable friend immediately generates this question. Clearly, GEICO is trying a different approach for this commercial, because usually we might expect the lizard to be directing traffic rather than the bodybuilder in the video below:

A quick assessment from GEICO’s Youtube Channel says:

“When you think about it, a bodybuilder is the perfect person to direct traffic. He’s fit enough to move his arms around for hours at a time, he’s big enough to be noticed by passing motorists, and he is, one would hope, savvy to local traffic laws. I guess the last one doesn’t have much to do with bodybuilding…

He does know one other important fact: switching your car insurance to GEICO could make you happier than a body builder directing traffic…”

Here we can understand the choice of the body builder as the person directing traffic, except of course the assumption that he is a savvy, traffic law-knowing body builder. At first glance, the commercial seems a peculiar choice, yet we still giggle at the silliness of a body builder directing traffic—with his arm motions very much resembling the same moves he would do at a body building competition to show his physique. As far as getting the viewers’ attention and eliciting a positive reaction, this commercial is good. Another positive point is that GEICO stays true to their theme: You will be happier if you have GEICO Auto Insurance. The gap though is, why would a body builder enjoy directing traffic? But, maybe that is the humor and why it works.

–  Rachel BetterbidNicole BetterbidLucy RojoSierra ScellatoShauna Seaver

4 thoughts on “The GEICO… Body Builder?

  1. Seems like Geico is being very consistent in that both efforts are humorous and both rely on a running joke. Wasn’t it Geico that also had the cavemen? Also, just about all humor is based on filling in a gap. Good humor works just like the Greek enthymeme in that filling in the gap ourselves is funnier/more powerful than if someone else does it for us. We have to connect body building poses with traffic directions and the narcissistic aspects of having everyone look at the bodybuilder. They are doing it for safety but he gets to enjoy the attention. The great thing about this campaign is its versatilty. There are already several in this series including antelopes with night vision goggles. The larger question to me is why we as a public are able to equate humor with safety. Between Flo, the AFLAC duck, the Geico ads and others, we are putting our lives in the hands of the company we find most funny. That seems like an odd pairing and worth exploring. We don’t, for example, link car safety with humor, or fine dining, or banking. Why is the car industry unique?

  2. I don’t know about this advertisement. Personally, I feel like GEICO is undermining my ability to be an information-seeking consumer. Insurance is a big investment. Insurance falls into Brand Attitude Strategy #3 – High Involvement/Informational. This is described in Dr. Persuit’s IMC 1 as a higher risk investment, focusing on solving problems or preventing them. This commercial is assuming that consumers purchase insurance based on transformational motivation (gratification, approval, stimulation.) Consumers need to know that an insurance company will benefit them securely and financially. The company should display their brand with a product consumers know that they can count on when in need.
    Maybe GEICO and the other companies mentioned are using such a blatant humorous approach because they are trying to target a younger audience. Perhaps the demographic age isn’t the driving (ha…pun) factor of this phenomenon. Maybe GEICO is trying a more postmodern approach to humor a cynical audience.
    At least the gecko informed us of policies and benefits of “switching to GEICO.” They were able to create subtle humor by choosing a cartoon animal with an accent to try and persuade us. I thought this was creative because it generally didn’t distract from the message.
    Regardless, I don’t trust a cartoon character enough to buy insurance from the company he represents, and now I don’t trust the company because they are trying harder to make me laugh than provide me with information to make a logical decision. When someone rear-ends me, I don’t want them to prioritize humor over giving me my claim money. It’s difficult for me take them seriously anymore or expect them to take me seriously.

    • I like how Geico is trying to appeal to the emotions of the audience by providing several outlets of humour in their advertisements. This is definetly a way to get attention and an effective way to sell life insurance. Although at times I feel as if we are choosing our life insurance plans based on which commercial is most comical. This isnt right.

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