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Commercial Break: Kill the Geico gecko?

October 17, 2012|By Roy Rivenburg

When it comes to annoying ad mascots, Geico has something for everyone: the squealing pig, the cavemen, the googly-eyed pile of cash, the rhetorical questions guy and, of course, the Limey gecko, who charms some but creeps out others.

"When I stare into his viscous black eyeballs, I get the feeling he'd rather rip my throat out with his stubby fingers than insure my automobile," one critic deadpanned

QUIZ: Who's that voice?

But recently, Geico has crafted a string of amusing TV spots with none of these characters. There’s the discount Disneyland ad, the motorcyclist made of money, the woman whose pets perform 1980s music and – our current favorite – the parents who cut sushi costs by raiding their daughter’s aquarium.

A new ad strategy?

"Not really," says Geico advertising guru Steve Bassett of the Martin Agency. To reach the broadest audience possible — "essentially anyone who drives a car," he says — the company adopted a scattershot approach several years ago.

Incorporating everything from Fred Flintstone and Chatty Cathy to Gladys Knight’s backup singers and melon-murdering comedian Gallagher, Geico’s ad repertoire surely ranks as one of the most prolific and diverse in TV history.

Inevitably, some spots disappoint.

"When you run the quantity of advertising that Geico does, you're bound to have a few detractors," Bassett says.

QUIZ: Who's that voice?

But much of the feedback is glowing. Last year, for example, Fortune magazine rated Geico’s "always clever" commercials 24th on its list of "100 Great Things About America," sandwiched between the Mississippi River and Bill and Melinda Gates.

Although Bassett concedes "it’s hard to appeal to everyone with every ad," he thinks the variety of commercials ultimately pays off. "We do hope, with such a large body of work, almost everyone can find a Geico favorite."

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