Everyone Into Geico’s ‘Car Pool’

Special effects and droll humor star in The Martin Agency’s new television commercials for Geico Direct.

Three 30-second ads broke on network, national cable and spot TV last week for the Washington, D.C.-based auto insurer.

The campaign focuses on the client’s immediate claim response, 24-hour service and guaranteed repairs. The tagline: “Fifteen minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.”

Steve Bassett, group creative director at the Richmond, Va., agency, oversaw the commercials, which were shot and directed by Traktor in Los Angeles.

In “Squirrel,” written by Joe Lawson and Raymond McKinney and art directed by Tye Harper, the joke revolves around a pair of squirrels playing chicken with a motorist. At the critical moment, squirrel A dodges between the wheels of a passing car. The insured motorist misses the animal but not a nearby tree stump. Sounds of the crash play over the chittering of the two creatures, which engage in paw-slapping high fives. The special effects were crafted by Sight Effects in Los Angeles.

The same team supplied the visual touches for “Wuxia,” a television spot that parodies Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. A policy holder wonders, “How does Geico process my claims so quickly?” The answer, delivered deadpan by a company man, is simple. “Ancient martial arts secrets from the Wuxia,” he says, holding out an ancient text. Behind him, claims adjusters pass paperwork effortlessly among themselves à la Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh in the motion picture.

“Car Pool,” created by copywriter Anne Marie Hite and art director Clairborne Riley, goes right to the sweaty reality of the carless. A plump pedestrian, burdened with the baggage of a working mother, hurries along suburban streets, the ubiquitous “Proud parent” bumper sticker loyally stuck to her rump. As she scoots into the car line, children, including her mortified daughter, pour out of school. Mom, armed with a portable car horn, tries to attract her daughter’s attention. It’s no surprise when the child would rather ride the bus.

“The work reminds people that Geico stands for great savings and amazing service,” said Bassett. “I think we dramatized them in some compelling ways.”