I can hear the boos already. What? Kill the Gecko? We love the Gecko! Sure the Gecko is cute and green and has that charming English accent. Without a doubt, he has been an excellent branding device for Geico Insurance. The Martin Agency deserves high praise for their consistently great creative work on the account. And whoever approves the creative at Geico gets my kudos for sticking with this simple, memorable series of commercials.
Still, I wonder if the Gecko might be reaching the point of diminishing returns. I watch a lot of sports on TV. So I see a lot of Geico spots. Lately, I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern in the storyline of the commercials. Each one opens with the Gecko and his human sidekick in a restaurant or hotel lobby. Either the Gecko or the human delivers a copy point or two, like what a great job customer service has been doing or how Geico insures motorcycles and RVs as well as cars. They get this boring stuff out of the way pretty quickly so they can get to the fun part – the joke. For example, the human trying to figure out how the Gecko carries a wallet, or the angry woman who mistakes the Gecko for a guy named Stanley, whom she apparently had a one-night stand with back in ’03.
Yes, the spots make me chuckle. And the presence of the Gecko tells me that I’m watching a Geico spot. Is that enough? Maybe yes, maybe no. Being in the advertising business, I pay an inordinate amount of attention to commercials – exponentially more than the average viewer. I work hard at gleaning the selling message imbedded in the spots. Will anyone else? I doubt it.
The problem, as I see it, is that the spots are no longer about Geico. They’re about the Gecko. And, to my mind, that is the tipping point for the effectiveness of the advertising. Creatively, they seem to have run out of ways of delivering a selling message that is connected to the entertainment. Not a good thing. The Gecko deathwatch has officially begun.
Now, let’s talk about woodchucks chucking wood . . .