One of the last places you'd expect to see 13th century Venetian explorer Marco Polo would be in a pool with a bunch of kids during a round of the modern-day water game Marco Polo.
But that's exactly where he appears in Geico's latest goofy commercial from The Martin Agency, which juxtaposes the surprise of the off-kilter visual gag with the obviousness of what the the insurer emphasizes as its competitive edge—lower rates for consumers.
"It's not surprising" is the theme of the new mini-campaign.
In the spot, the famous traveler stands, in full period garb, chest deep in a backyard pool, completely baffled while a handful of children swim around him yelling "Marco" and "Polo." His ineffectual attempts to bridge the gap are entertaining enough.
"Excuse me," he says in Italian, "I am Marco Polo." Alas, it's to no avail.
But the ad's true highlight is its llama—apparently Polo's ride to the party (which is in itself a bit of a surprise—it made it to South America sometime in the past 700 years, too). It stands outside the pool, peering over the edge at the commotion, face permanently fixed in a state of bored indignation.
That's a more subtle role than many of Geico's animal figures, who often stand front and center in its ads—earlier this year, an obnoxious talking alligator showed viewers how to properly dodge a lunch check, building on a long, amusing history of using animals to help sell its policies. This aloof, understated approach works well, and in the end, even the hapless Polo catches on to the rules and joins the fun, making for a charming little last shot.
Of course, perhaps most surprising of all is how calm parents and Geico customers Amanda and Keith are about the oddly dressed old man with the pack animal crashing their family afternoon. Then again, maybe saving $645 on car insurance when they have three kids to raise—the new campaign also notably shows actual Geico customers and their actual savings—might well have the same effect on them as popping a couple of Valium.
Vice President, Marketing: Ted Ward
Director, Marketing/Media/Advertising: Bill Brower
Senior Manager, Brand Team/Media Advertising/Sports Marketing: Melissa Halicy
Brand Team Senior Supervisor: Mike Grant
Brand Team Planners: Brighid Griffin, Tom Perlozzo
Brand Team Coordinators: Julia Nass, Tim Ware
Agency: The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.
Chief Creative Officer: Joe Alexander
Group Creative Directors: Steve Bassett, Wade Alger
Creative Director: Sean Riley
Senior Copywriter: Ken Marcus
Executive Producer: Brett Alexander
Broadcast Producer: Brian Camp
Associate Broadcast Producer: Coleman Sweeney
Junior Broadcast Producer: Sara Montgomery
Account Director: Ben Creasey
Account Supervisor: Allison Hensley
Account Executive: Jon Glomb
Account Coordinator: Allie Waller
Business Affairs Supervisor: Suzanne Wieringo
Financial Account Supervisor: Monica Cox
Senior Production Business Manager: Amy Trenz
Project Manager: Karen McEwen
Production Company: RadicalMedia
Director: Steve Miller
Executive Producer: Gregg Carlesimo
Head of Production: Frank Dituri
Producer: Jonathan Dino
Editing Company: MackCut
Editor: Ian MacKenzie
Assistant Editor: Mike Leuis
Executive Producer: Gina Pagano
Producer: Sabina-Elease Utley
Sound Design: Sam Shaffer
Editing Company: Running With Scissors
Assistant Editor: Drew Neuhart
Telecine: The Mill
Colorist: Fergus McCall
Finishing, Visual Effects: RWS
Flame Artist: Chris Hagen
Flame Assistant: Paul Widerholt
Post Producer: Katherine Leatherwood
Audio Post Company: Rainmaker Studios
Senior Sound Designer: Jeff McManus
Executive Producer, Owner: Kristin O'Connor
General Manager, Scheduler: Clinton Spell II