Geico Answers Its Own Questions

Geico today broke a campaign dubbed “Rhetorical Questions,” which is the latest of at least four concurrent initiatives for the auto insurer.

The effort via The Martin Agency spotlights the savings car owners get when they switch to Geico insurance. The four spots, however, don’t feature any of the company’s mascots like the Gecko, the Cavemen, or Kash. Instead, Geico tapped actor Mike McGlone (from The Brothers McMullen) to play a reporter who asks rhetorical questions, such as: “Does Elmer Fudd have trouble with the letter R?” and “Did The Waltons take way too long to say goodnight?”

In one spot, McGlone asks the familiar question: “Could switching to Geico save you 15 percent or more on car insurance?” He then follows up with a rhetorical question: “Does Charlie Daniels play a mean fiddle?” The ad goes on to answer the obvious question by showing Daniels playing the fiddle with incredible speed. The other three commercials follow a similar question-and-answer format.

“Rhetorical Questions” isn’t replacing Geico’s other campaigns featuring its mascots, and it doesn’t change the insurance provider’s message or strategy, said Steve Bassett, creative director at The Martin Agency.

“Geico runs several story lines at one time and that’s because there are different messages. In fact, they’ve had success with the multiple story lines,” said Bassett. The Cavemen, for example, relay the message of how easy it is to use; Kash is the recent icon that represents savings; and the Gecko has been the main brand icon for more than seven years. “[The new effort] is strictly a savings campaign,” he added.

In 2003, Geico debuted a campaign called “Good News,” which featured humorous ads that ended with the tagline: “I’ve got good news! I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico.” Bassett said that campaign was misdirecting since the Geico brand name only appeared at the end. “Rhetorical Questions,” however, introduces the insurance provider’s name so consumers make an instant connection.

According to Bassett, Geico and the agency haven’t set a time frame for the new campaign. Its success will be monitored to determine how long it will run. “[But] it seems this campaign has the potential to run longer term,” said Bassett. “The rhetorical questions are almost endless and we can do a lot with that.”

Geico spent $561 million on advertising in 2008 and $473 million through October of this year, per Nielsen.

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