09 August 2009

Ninety-nine percent of advertising doesn’t sell much of anything.

David Ogilvy

In today’s world we are bombarded by a never-ending stream of advertising.  Due to this constant bombardment, people have begun to automatically filter out and ignore the messages that companies are trying to convey, assuming that they don’t matter much, and can’t be trusted.  This makes it difficult for companies to communicate the benefits of their products in traditional advertising spots, because we don’t trust the direct “my product is better then the competition” message since it is being said by the guy who wants to take your money.

Enter the Geico commercials.  They take the message of Geico being a low cost insurance option, and do a great job at getting that message into the mind of the consumer, without being direct.  They do this particularly in two of their campaigns:  The Geico Gecko, and the “Kash” character.  The Geico Gecko is an animated gecko with an Australian accent whose job is to tell people about the money they could be saving with Geico.  The Kash character is a stack of money with some googley eyes that dramatically pops up at random times that represents “the money you could be saving with Geico.”  For example, a couple will be on a date at the movie theater, and the girl will ask, “Who’s that staring at you all strange?”  We then see “kash” and the guy goes “Oh, that’s just the money I could be saving with Geico.”

The genius of these campaigns is that they get around the filters that people create for themselves so as not to be swayed by advertising.  Instead of directly saying, “We can save you money,” they get across the same message without raising anyone’s internal alarms.  I particularly like the “kash” character, because it takes an abstract thought of the cash someone can save with Geico, and turns it into something tangible and real.  When asked to describe what the stack of bills in the Geico commercial is, people will say, “Oh, that’s the money I could be saving with Geico.”  This is truly amazing, because it presupposes that people can save money by using Geico.  Same with the gecko.  If people are asked what the job of the gecko is, they would say “to tell people about the money they could be saving with Geico.”  This also presupposes that people will save money.

They follow it up with a great tagline:  “Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance.”  Simple, catchy, and does an incredible job at quickly conveying the value proposition to potential clients in a way that gets around people’s filters.  They’re not asking for cash, they’re only asking for a little time, with the presupposition that if they could save you money, you would switch.  Amazing.

Geico uses The Martin Agency as its ad agency.  A+ work.  If I had a fortune 500 company, I’d throw some business their way…