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Insuring They Don’t Need To Say Anything

Right now, GEICO’s main advertising campaign is geared around the fact that everyone already knows that 15 minutes could save you 15% or more – so they are free to spend most of their commercials entertaining the audience.

By saying you “could” save 15%, they are using slippery advertising speak to let you know that you also might NOT. Then they throw in the “or more” to get you really excited. But in reality, since you might not even save 15%, you certainly might not save more. They’re promising NOTHING. Not savings. Not better insurance. Not superior service. NOTHING.

There is, in other words, absolutely nothing of substance in their commercials at all. At the end of the day, their entire value proposition is complete bullshit.

GEICO is not alone in this tack. Consider Progressive Insurance and their “no price tags” approach. Again, this is not exactly true. In fact, it is exactly not true, which I think makes it even worse than GEICO’s approach. With Progressive (and any car insurance), there are just so many price tags, so esoterically assigned to so many variables, that you need to go to their web site and enter all of your variables to arrive at the final price. Name your own price? Really? Here’s how you name your own price: if what you want is too expensive, ask for less coverage or a higher deductible. WOW! Thanks, Progressive!

What Progressive Insurance does have is Flo. And over half a billion dollars to shove her bland personality down our collective throats. That’s only half of what GEICO spends, though. Yes, they spend over a BILLION dollars annually on advertising (which they can afford to do for obvious reasons). Geico can therefore ruthlessly bombard you with their message – which is, essentially, that they exist and they have a sense of humor. Why wouldn’t they?

Some brands wonder if spending their money on advertising is worth it, but the simple fact is, if you spend enough, you don’t even need to have anything to say. Once again, it supports the idea that effective advertising requires bucks or balls (see our agency’s “Campaign Success Predicto” below). Both are great, but enough of one can compensate for the lack of the other.

~ Adam Schnitzler, CCO, The S3 Agency

Editor’s note: If I had to choose one, I’d choose Geico. The Pinocchio spot is definitely in my set of current commercials that crack me up. I may not know if Geico will save me 15% (or more!), but now I know that Pinocchio was a bad motivational speaker.


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