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A Love & Hate for Car Insurance Brands
By: Sarah Jane Dunaway
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Earlier today, while watching Friends and catching up on some industry news, a commercial came on for GEICO featuring a little pig character who gets pulled over for a broken taillight. Frankly, there isn’t one GEICO commercial I’ve ever understood.

I find the GEICO commercials ridiculous, pointless, and lacking in strategy. There are too many characters to count and the gecko is annoying. At the end of the commercial comes the one consistent message that “15 minutes can save you 15% or more!”

In the past, off the top of my head, GEICO commercials have featured a caveman, gecko, pig, and the cash motorcyclist. I know there are several others.

Most men I know, including my husband, love the commercials. They think the caveman is intriguing, the gecko quirky, and the pig just downright funny. But what is the purpose? The GEICO brand feels disjointed, lazy, and cheap.

Allstate did a fantastic job featuring the man we have all come to know and love as the voice of Allstate. I don’t know who he is, but when I see him I feel safe and protected from the bad guys (aka those drivers insured by anyone except Allstate). When Mayhem appeared as the new representative of Allstate, I feared another GEICO situation featuring various unrelated characters.

The folks at Allstate have managed to keep their two identities separate, while allowing the personalities behind their two personalities to flourish. The Allstate man with his strong and confident voice now speaks through other confident drivers who know they are well taken care of in a car crisis. And Mayhem, my personal favorite, has become such a hit that his 1.5 million Facebook fans wait patiently each day for their dose of “I’m you’re [fill in the blank with a Mayhem-related incident].”

The reality is that car insurance companies are constantly fighting for our attention. GEICO features quirky characters in an attempt to keep it real and connect with consumers on a light-hearted level. Allstate taps into our sensibility that a gecko really won’t save us from a major car accident and that we need something more dependable. Mayhem reminds us that life is at times mayhem and luckily the trusting Allstate guy is on our side. 

Regardless of whether men in their 20s and 30s love the GEICO commercials or if the brand strategy is fragmented, consumers will always go with what makes the most financial and practical sense. When you’re talking about car insurance and something much more than just coverage for a scratched bumper, the decision to pick an insurance company isn’t as black and white as Mayhem having a great social media presence. Perhaps that’s why no matter how much I despise GEICO or love Allstate, I’m covered by USAA.


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About the Author

Sarah Jane Dunaway is a brand strategist and design consultant, and the writer and creator behind the blog Clean & Proper. A former member of the paper and printing industry, Sarah Jane specializes in helping businesses of all sizes streamline marketing communications by creating compelling brand identity systems and corporate identity packages. Find her online here

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