Animal distraction: Geico's disruption of automotive insurance advertising using lizards, cavemen and pigs

Geoffrey Precourt

The moment in 1999 that sowed the creative seed for the start of Geico's long-running series of widely-celebrated animal-based commercials sounds more like a scene from the TV series "Mad Men" than a tactful piece of deliberate marketing.

Ted Ward, vp/marketing for the automotive insurance company, recounted its beginnings during the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) annual Transformation conference.

"We had some focus groups in Scottsdale, Arizona, looking for creative input. We were trying to get a handle on why [some] consumers were not responding as well as we would have liked to some of our advertising.

"Basically," he continued, "they didn't know who we were. We hadn't developed the brand to the extent we would have liked." Moreover, the brand had just a 2% share in an ultra-competitive market.