During the season premiere of IFC’s Portlandia on Jan. 4, viewers may have been taken aback by a Geico ad—dubbed “Piglandia”—that looked a lot like the show while also spoofing one of the comedy program’s classic sketches.
The 30-second spot features Geico’s Maxwell the Pig mascot and references the show’s two-year-old “Is It Local?” skit that mocked the Pacific Northwest city's farm-to-table restaurant craze. The commercial opened with the signature slanted font that begins every Portlandia skit, taking place at the same Farmer’s Table eatery that appeared in the original episode. (Call it humorous or simply curious, but it's probably worth noting for fans of the show that the restaurant is actually located in Portland, Maine, not Portlandia's home of Portland, Ore.)
During the Geico spot, Maxwell was nonplussed by Farmer's Table special of the day—pickled garlic pork loin. Appearing with the fictional pig was actress Dana Millican, who played a waitress just like she did in the “Is It Local?” original.
The ad is running during all 10 episodes of Portlandia, which stars comic Fred Armisen and musician-turned-actress Carrie Brownstein. Horizon Media, The Martin Agency, Geico and IFC collaborated on the project. It’s not the first time the insurance giant has tailored a spot specifically for a cable program, enlisting the Geico Caveman in an ad with History's Hatfields & McCoys characters last year.
When it comes to “Piglandia,” a Horizon rep said, “the goal was simply to stand out in a cluttered insurance marketplace and create something that people could relate to and find entertaining.”
Yeah, but is it local?