This Little Piggy…

This little piggy went to market. This little piggy went home. This little piggy had roast beef. This little piggy had none. This little piggy went to… Geico?Image

That’s right. Maxwell, the little piggy who cried “Wee Wee Wee” all the way home in the 2010 Geico commercial is now one of the most recognizable characters in the media today. Simply putting a name to one of the little pigs from the “This Little Piggy” song (that most Americans are familiar with) gave many viewers a chance to reflect on their childhood and build a connection with the viewer.

Kenneth Burke, an American theorist and philosopher, would refer to Maxwell as the agent in the series of commercials. Using Maxwell as a constant character in these commercials is an aligned way to tie the series of advertisements all together. Despite the various acts, scenes, purposes, and agencies used throughout the series of advertisements, Maxwell is always present throughout and that offers the viewers the opportunity to classify him as a sort of mascot. Similar to the Geico Gecko, despite what he is doing, many viewers will now instantly link Maxwell with Geico because of the conduciveness of the ads.

Geico now has a series of at least 5 commercials all starring Maxwell. He is shown participating in a range of acts and in an array of different settings throughout the various commercials. From zip lining down a mountain to driving a convertible all the way to a romantic night on a secluded mountaintop, Geico has stopped at nothing to incorporate their little piggy and keep their marketing consistent. Sometimes, Gieco also takes the opportunity to crack a quick joke and or pull in a well-known cultural saying. For example, in one of their most recent commercials, Maxwell is on a plane and they seize the opportunity to tie in the old saying of ‘I will believe it when pigs fly.’


With that being said, many other companies are now utilizing a similar method. Commercials featuring characters that parallel to those of the big bad wolf, little red riding hood, and the three bears have rushed the media. Clearly, the use of recalling characters from cultural fairy tales and our past experiences is an effective way to set a product ahead of its competition. Furthermore, using a consistent character, although it could get annoying, is also an effective way of building an advertising campaign and creating a name or face for the company.

– Dann Williams

11 thoughts on “This Little Piggy…

  1. I agree that these commercials are very effective in gathering large numbers of viewers. When I saw the first “little piggy” commercial when it first came out, I loved it. It put a real life almost sarcastic spin on an old childhood favorite, and I couldn’t get enough. They even named the little piggy! Then, since I had liked the first commercial so much, I’ve eagerly watched all the ones that have followed. People love to be reminded of childhood things; toys we played with, stories we read, games we played, songs we sang, and even shows we watched. To see a beloved figure that had such an importance on our past now “teamed up” with a brand, it makes us want to trust that brand like we trusted that character or figure from our younger years. Road Runner was one of the first to do this on a large scale and they executed it perfectly. The Road Runner was always outsmarting the Coyote, so we wanted to believe that, in turn, as users of Road Runner internet service, we were outsmarting someone too.

  2. This is such a strong point in how to make commercials and the product or service they are promoting recognizable by using the same character. Especially when using culturally rooted characters that already have a strong branded story behind them. Although with the Geico pig commercials are slightly overbearing, there is a connection made with the viewers that forces them to acknowledge the commercial, whether it be welcomed or not. The commercial is not about the product or service anymore, but it is about the story that it is presented with. People do not want to be loaded with information about the product, they want to have something fun or catchy to view which will cause a connection with product or service that is being advertised.

  3. I believe it is a smart move of Geico to connect its mascot to a childhood memory of many viewers. This way the ad will create immediate positive responses from the audience. With the steady repetition of those advertisements the positive feelings created from the mascot will be transfered to the brand at some point, creating a favourable image for Geico.

  4. I completely agree with you that using a character from the past is very beneficial. I really enjoy commercials that connect me to my childhood as it automatically gives me a sense of connection also to the company’s product. I really enjoy the Geico commercials that involve Maxwell. I love the commercial that he is on the plane as the advertising also incorporates comedy to connect to the audience. I believe that Geico does a better job of using his character to connect to all audiences.

  5. I love Gieco commercials. They are always something different that catches me off guard, yet I always find them really funny. For me, I at first thought the pig was random but that is also what made it stick in my brain and easily had me remembering Gieco commercials. I do like how the pig plays on our childhood side because it does make me familiarize with the character more, which also leads me to trust the brand more. Gieco continues to produce a strong connection with consumers.

  6. I think this was a very smart and clever move for Geico to use this childhood character for their advertisements. When I saw the commercial I immediately looked and paid attention to what they were advertising for because it was something that I could relate to. I mean who doesn’t love that little pig?! I think this was very smart on their part. My personal favorite was the commercial when they say I will when pigs can fly!

  7. I completely agree! I must say the cute little Gecko was a fantastic character to intertwine with the Gieco brand. Over time though, to keep up with this constantly changing world, there had to be a change in character to keep the Gieco brand in the consumers mind. Using a fairytale character such as Maxwell, one of the little piggies, was genious. Personally, when I see that commercial it perks my interest just because I enjoy seeing his cute little face. Because they used such a likeable character, it gives Gieco somewhat of an advantage atleast enough to draw people in to what they have to offer.

  8. I personally do not think that Geico had plans to run a several commercial campaign that included Maxwell. I believe that they tried him out with the “this little piggy” commercial, saw that he received good enough ratings, and decided to use him again and again. When I watch the latest Maxwell commercials, I often wonder what the purpose is. The first of the series was clever and played on the nursery rhyme, but the latest issues have been a bit pointless. I think that the only exception to this is the airplane commercial, where Geico gave a subtle parallel between the Alec Baldwin airplane scandal, and then added the “pigs fly” quote at the end. Personally, I want something to connect to in a commercial and I think that the well-known sayings and rhymes are good connectors. On the flip side, I believe that a random pig on a zip-line has little purpose and leaves me a bit confused.

  9. Commercials are becoming more and more effective with their use of characterizations or mascots. Geico is a great example of a company that does this. Something that continues to catch the viewers attention is the witty and appropriate humor in these commercials. Parents aren’t cringing when their kids see these commercials, which might be a good thing. Not only are the kids now asking mommy and daddy if the “gecko” is protecting them, but now if little piggy helps them with insurance.

  10. In psychology we are learning about this concept of “collective memories,” otherwise known as symbols/stories that are believed to just be inherently known by everyone because of their persistence in our society. One of the “collective memories” are common folk tales/stories and I believe the little piggy character falls in this category. It is brilliant for Geico to use this reference because it is a concept that really will most likely be recognized by more people than not.
    The Maxwell commercials are some of my personal favorites and I think they epitomize a lot of concepts that we have touched upon in IMC. The use of Maxwell throughout the course of several unique commercials creates narrative coherence: the story or situation he is in changes in each commercial, but he remains the same and always represents the same thing: that Geico offers you the best insurance products. In a sense his character is misleading because Geico is misattributing human characteristics/emotions to an animal (pathetic fallacy) but the idea of a talking pig is almost so outlandish that nobody anticipates this to be reality in the first place, thus it is not misleading.
    Finally, I think little Maxwell is a good example of postmodernism. Geico has taken the well-known child’s story about the little piggy and made changes to it to suit the humor of a more adult audience. Similar to how the Honda CRV commercial we viewed in class changed the story line of Ferris Buller’s Day Off and geared it towards car consumers, Geico uses the piggy but creates a more mature story line for the pig (something that would be relatable and even humorous to people buying insurance).

  11. In an IMC video we watched, we learned that the only way to avoid advertising is to sleep. WIth so much media coming at you constantly, it is very important for companies to really stand out in their marketing campaigns. I have to say, Geico did a very good job with creating Maxwell. I have caught myself on several occasions replaying the “wee wee weeee” in my head, even though I have not seen that commercial in ages. Another example of this kind of advertising would be the dancing hamsters commericals that Kia Soul designed. Regardless of whether you like this marketing strategy, I think everyone can agree on one thing- it works.

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