Love or hate it, Geico’s carpet-bombing brand management is impossible to ignore.
The talking Gecko broke important boundaries in modern marketing and moved it forward into absurdism.
The Geico Gecko was the antihero, in a sense. Where the traditional cartoon spokesperson historically advocated for his or her product, the first gecko commercial was just the gecko’s attempt to distance himself from the brand, closing with his plea, in a British accent, that the public “stop calling me!” It’s absurdism at its finest: where you’d expect a conventional product push, you see a character that exists for the sake of the character, for the humor, for the wordplay- not for the product. The product follows the character loyalty naturally in the ideal scenario.
Even more advertising dollars were pushed towards Geico for this bold vision by Warren Buffet’s investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, in 2002 the brand passed the 5 million policyholder mark, and in 2005 the Geico gecko was named as Icon of the Year during Advertising Week. The icon remains, considering that the gecko now had 14.2K Twitter followers at @TheGEICOGecko.
Many, many similar templates followed the gecko, including the Geico caveman, the Geico bluegrass duo, and the hump day camel. Today’s advertising echoes that movement, with brands all across the market adopting templates of talking animals, non-sequiturs and really, really basic puns. With these maneuvers, the Geico brand attracted people to its personality first and its product second. It set a standard many brands have since followed.
Look no further than the Terry Crews Old Spice commercials or Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” to see the Geico character model on repeat. These characters have less to do with product and more to do with personality. Geico’s brand management appears to consist of throwing many characters at the wall to see which of them stick. Geico recently began to bring characters from other brands into their fold, as well, brilliantly increasing the visibility for both brands.
The Geico Cross-Brand Content Marketing Method
Seeing characters from different universes colliding in a single reality is a novelty that’s intended to draw in both brands’ audiences. An example of this was in 1987 when the first airing of Hanna-Barbera’s The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones occurred, where the characters from those oft-compared shows finally united for an instant cult classic. Its preview clip has over 200,000 views on YouTube today.
Geico has applied this crossover content marketing strategy to its own ad campaigns, incorporating the Pillsbury Doughboy and, more recently, Ms. Brown of M&M’S® fame.
From a content marketing perspective, now is the best time to mix brand characters this way. Take a look at your brand management and see if there are intersecting demographics. You can find a mutual advantage for your company and another working in concert. After all, advertising is about creating a form of entertainment.
A brand blend is advantageous because you can get your intersecting markets excited about each other. The connection is there, just waiting to solidify.
What are some of your favorite examples of brand blending? Let me know in the comments section below!