Posted by: David Kiley on August 18, 2008
I’m trying to figure out why there is an effort to leverage the Geico cavemen into something besides ad characters.
Last year, there was an attempt to put the inferiority-complex laden Neanderthals into a TV series. It bombed. Indeed, it was unwatchable. Now, the cavemen will be integrated into ESPN’s media properties in roles as fantasy-football salesmen, as well as stars of a series of vignettes promoting the network’s flagship “SportsCenter” program.
According the Ad Age article on the deal: [“ESPN is basically using an advertiser’s icon to drive viewers to its shows,” said Bill Koenigsberg, CEO of Horizon Media, Geico’s longtime media agency, which crafted the deal. “It’s very unusual, but for these two brands we think it’s a perfect fit.”]
We’ll see. The Geico cavemen have been one very successful leg in Geico’s advertising stool.
What fascinates me about the Geico campaign is that the cavemen, as memorable as they are, are only part of the effort. The other part of the campaign [all done by Richmond Va.’s Martin Agency] are the ads in which a celebrity appears with a real life Geico customer. Like this ad:
When I think of the most memorable ad icons—The Marlboro Man, Mr. Whipple, Charlie Tuna, Mr. Clean—I have no memory of the agency or the client saying: “Wow, this is too valuable a property to just waste on one brand!” I can actually for a minute imagine that someone would have had the idea of turning Charlie Tuna into a Saturday morning cartoon for kids. Let’s face it, Charlie could have been a character in “Finding Nemo.”
Memo to Geico, Martin and Horizon: The cavemen are a great and memorable ad property for the company and brand. But sometimes a duck is just a duck. Just let the cavemen be the cavemen.