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Why Has The Geico Gecko Been So Affective

Posted by jackson on 500 Points
I, like you, love the Geico Gecko, but the question is why does America love him?
He has changed from a rather upper class character when he first hit the TV and has evolved into this lovable gecko who has for some reason a London (Cockney) accent.
I am would like to get expert opinions on why consumers have taken the character to heart and more importantly, why the campaign has resulted in incremental sales. For instance, the copy clearly states the benefit of savings, but do we pay more attention to a character than a real presenter. What is the magic that makes this particular character work?

  • Posted by Ann H. on Moderator
    Hi Jackson,

    There's some good background on the GEICO gecko in a MarketingProfs article we re-ran this past week, as one of the "Best of 2007" MP articles. Doesn't exactly address your question, but I thought you might find it interesting, nevertheless:

    Lessons From Warren Buffett: Getting the CEO to (Willingly) Write Checks for Marketing
    by Paul Barsch
    http://www.marketingprofs.com/7/best-of-mp-2007-barsch.asp

    Best,

    Ann
  • Posted by Inbox_Interactive on Member
    Here's an article that might help:
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/advertising/adtrack/2006-07-16-geico_x.htm

    Without adding any expert opinion on the matter, I'll just say that Americans love a British accent.

    Don't know why. They just do.

    Consider Jonathan Pryce and Infiniti...James Bond...and the Beatles. And so on.

    Play the GEICO/gecko commercials in your head with an American accent. Disaster, no?

  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    I think a large part of the gecko's success traces to the fact that the advertising itself is good advertising. If you look at the characteristics of a good ad, the Geico advertising hits just about all of them. And it does it in a way that provides strong name recognition and a mnemonic hook -- association with an easily recognized character with an unusual name that is similar to that of the brand.

    Beyond that, I think the personality of the character is well communicated and consistent, so people don't get bored or turned off by too much exposure. They must have 5 or 6 commercials in the pool ... not much wear-out.

    Contrast that to Maria Sharapova's cute dog who makes the camera commercial memorable (along with Maria, of course), but you have to work hard to remember the brand ... because it's not a Maria, a Sharapova, or a dog.

    (It's Canon, isn't it?)
  • Posted by MONMARK GROUP on Accepted
    Geico-Gecko...Geico-Gecko...Geico-Gecko!

    All of the above, especially Michael's, and let me add that the discussion that the commercials are not hard sell. It barely addresses the issues directly...but still brings to light, their offerings, which increases the viewer's curiosity.

    It's advertising light...with giant impact.

    (I have no idea which camera it is...don't care, but I wish they were in higher rotation).
  • Posted by CarolBlaha on Member
    Depending on what poll you watch-- the ones I've seen list him as one of the most annoying critters out there. Which is where I am with it. The reason it works is no matter your opinion of the reptile-- you remember it. And that is the goal.

    Carol
    Sell Well and Prosper tm
  • Posted by Steve Hoffacker on Member
    The gecko was cute once. That's about it. And then they have so many other commercials - the people who need to have celebrity interpreters, etc. I'm turned off. But then I wouldn't buy their product anyway.

    Steve
  • Posted by rockyboy2 on Member
    If we experts knew the how and why of these irritating little adverts that suddenly start people talking about them we would earn a fortune. They all seem to have the one thing in common you either love em or hate em. To me that is the key the create an emotional response good or bad it does not matter
  • Posted on Accepted
    jackson,

    Like other posts, I think the Gecko seems to work for most people in the audience because of a number of factors:

    1. it is non-threatening (tiny lizard & non-poisonous - can't be much of a threat to most people).

    2. it has a quirky, self-assured personality - seems to exude an air of "I really don't much care what you think of me".

    3. the ads are scripted like a friendly coffee-house chat with a buddy - the Gecko is not talking "at" you.

    4. the british accent makes people's ears perk-up (I don't necessarily think Americans "like" a British accent, as much as that they "notice" it, which translates into more focus on the advertisement and by extension perhaps more receptivity for the message).

    Having said all the above, I agree with Steve - I wouldn't buy Geico's product, but I do seem to remember their ads more than most others.

    Hope this helps.
    John
  • Posted by BARQ on Member
    Geico targets women with the gecko. (Men with the Cavemen.) Many women find the Brit accent to be sexy. That is the attention grabber. After that, the message is ALWAYS the same -- 15 minutes, 15 percent.

    The gecko initially was a play on words, but the response was so great that the agency (The Martin Agency, I believe) re-scripted the character based on the demo's of those responding to first ads.

    Kudos to The Martin Agency, who also does the UPS ads -- in fact the "white board" guy is allegedly the agency's real creative director. Aside from being a very creative shop, I understand Martin is a highly regarded employer.

    BARQ
    SELMARQ Brands' Best Friend
  • Posted by HartfordWoman on Member
    Oh, it's definitely the English accent. I used to work at a museum with a British fellow who had no more education than a cab driver back home but when he was speaking to Americans here they were usually eating out of his hand. I used to kid him - "Do you send letters home telling them all to come here because Americans are so gullible? You could get away with anything!" lol
  • Posted by CarolBlaha on Member
    skoobie99 is right. The accent makes your ears perk up. Its like the people hawking hand lotions in the mall kiosks. It is a different, non obtrusive voice. I dont buy -- when I first heard it I stopped, but I don't even do that now.
  • Posted on Accepted
    The gecko provides entertaining interaction and is the mascot of the company. A character (such as the gecko) is sometimes more convincing than a sales presenter because of psychological reason. Humans are hurt and lied to by other humans before but how can an animated character posses such traits (we only blame the person who is using the character, not the character itself)? Humans look at sales presenter much more differently than an animated character. By creating a cute and loveable animated character to do the sales pitch, sometimes they can be more convincing than humans (also no actors fee, strengthens your brand, no replacements, doesn't age).

    A good part of Geico's success is their commercials. All of Geico's commercials have light humor to it with the last 5 sec with the same selling pitch "15 mins can save you 15% percent or more on car insurance" (for retention rate). There's always a batch of ads (each year) to keep the consumers from watching the same old ads to make it easier to consume the commercials. Recently they have started making their ads not look like an ad until the very last 8-10 secs with their selling pitch. This is a really good approach since most viewers will switch to a different channel if they see a commercial so why not make it entertaining 3/4 of the commercial and the last part the "selling pitch" to have more consumers watch it till the end.
  • Posted by billthomasweb on Member
    Repetition, repetition, repetition.

    Geico simply won't let any of us not love that thing. They have committed 100%.

    And, I think the dialect is Australian, not British. A wisecracking, common sense character that reminds me a bit of an Aussie Bugs Bunny.

    Sure beats smiling housewives, and plastic announcers.
  • Posted by Inbox_Interactive on Member
    Aussie, Cockney...he ain't sayin' for sure:

    http://www.geico.com/fun/blog/blog42.htm

  • Posted by billthomasweb on Member
    I just sent an email asking Mr. Gecko where he is from -England or Australia.

    I'll keep you posted.
  • Posted on Member
    Get your facts straight. Success? Ithink not. The Gecho is only one of their three confusing campaigns. They also run CAVEMAN and the assinine Jed Clampet ads. Geico is the largest ad spender in auto insurance but are a distant number three in market share. Their media ROI is about 10 cents on the dollar.
  • Posted by Inbox_Interactive on Member
    We should all be as unsuccessful as GEICO...or its owner.

    http://www.marketingprofs.com/7/getting-ceos-write-checks-for-marketing-bar...

  • Posted by mgoodman on Member
    blanalytics, where did you get YOUR information?

    I don't have any data on Geico's Marketing or Media ROI, but I seriously doubt they'd continue to spend at these high levels with an unsatisfactory ROI.

    Maybe their profit margins are high enough that 10% is an attractive return for them. It's certainly higher than investing in a CD or in the LIBOR.

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