MHB WEEKLY: By the students, for the world

The Multiple Mascots of Geico | February 9, 2011

Most marketing campaigns only focus on one product mascot — McDonald’s will always have Ronald McDonald and Energizer will always have the Energizer Bunny. So in a world of monolithic mascots, Geico has bucked the trend by implementing multiple brand reps who coexist peacefully in a variety of advertising campaigns. And even though Geico uses multiple consumer-friendly characters, each one is as equally memorable and interchangeable as the next.

The most famous and consistent of Geico’s mascots is, of course, the Geico Gecko. This lovable creature is often paired with an adorable old man, and together they act as spokesmen for the company (see below).
The commercials that feature the Gecko, as above, are often lighthearted and humorous. While they do mention the benefits of using Geico’s services, the main focus of the commercial is the quirky story and endearing relationship between the lizard and his elder sidekick. The use of a cute animal promotes warmth and likability, so much so that there is now a YouTube channel devoted entirely to the Gecko — which features the character in various viral spots that, despite no mention of the Geico brand, have already garnered serious interest in the YouTube community. Because everyone can identify the creature as the Geico Gecko and not another animated lizard, Geico has been able to create a level of iconicity with its Gecko similar to that of other well-known power brands.

More recently, Geico began a series of commercials featuring actor Mike McGlone, in which he ask a seemingly-nonsensical rhetorical question to the audience — who then sees the question get played out in a humorous scene (see below). There are 16 of these commercials, all of which are available on Geico’s YouTube channel. Many have garnered millions of views, demonstrating how viewers actively seek them out for their surprising humor. These spots, unlike the Gecko ads, appeal to those that are not as attracted to the simplicity of a cute animal mascot; in particular, the rhetorical questions campaign seems more targeted to men who enjoy its ironic humor more than females, who are more drawn by the warmth of the Gecko. Using these commercials, Geico has been able to reach a different target audience and effectively widen its customer base — all without compromising the legacy or cannibalizing the effect of its original reptilian mascot.

Continue reading for more analysis of Geico’s diversity in advertising.

In between the Gecko and Mike McGlone sit the Cavemen, who represent Geico’s third concurrent campaign. Many can easily identify the company’s associated tagline — “So easy a caveman could do it” — and the subsequent commercials that feature offended Cavemen who are actually articulate and educated (see below). These commercials became so popular that a television series was created revolving entirely around the Cavemen — a failed and quickly-canceled show, but nonetheless the first program born of an ad campaign. No mention of Geico was ever made in the series, but, similar to the iconicity associated with the Gecko, viewers understood that these were the same Cavemen from those Geico commercials. And even though the show is gone, the Cavemen live on in further Geico spots.

Clearly, Geico has an uncanny ability to create just these types of mascots: those that are long-lasting and memorable, and highly associated with the actual brand. Many commercials become great hits with the public for their humor or unexpectedness, but oftentimes the actual message or product is lost in the transfer. This is never the case with Geico, as they have created mascots that will forever be linked to the brand and never forgotten — except maybe in the case below, an example of the one campaign never as accessible as the Cavemen, the Gecko or McGlone.

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