Horizon Media Sends Geico’s Gecko Into the Wild

Horizon Media has engineered a multiplatform buy that will send Geico’s reptilian mascot to some wild and wooly places.

Per terms of a deal with National Geographic Channel, the insurance company will serve as the presenting title sponsor of Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr and Wild. The Geico buy includes a series of four 30-second vignettes, as well as branded content across NGC’s digital platforms and a customized insert in the March issue of National Geographic magazine.

The on-air “Unlike Humans” vignettes will run across NGC’s schedule throughout 2009. Each execution will feature humans attempting to mimic gecko behaviors, and while it’s unlikely that any of the subjects will detach his or her tail when threatened by predators, one can imagine that there will be a fair amount of gurgling, chirping and tongue-flicking on display.

The Geico brand enjoys prominent placement on the Dangerous Encounters mini-site, appearing in an interactive “How Gecko Are You?” game and in pre-roll ads attached to clips of the show. In order to gauge the efficacy of the campaign, NGC will provide Geico with a steady stream of research data and analysis.

“We found a unique way to take Geico’s signature campaign and integrate it with one of NGC’s popular series and most recognizable talent,” said Bill Koenigsberg, CEO and founder of Horizon Media. “What makes it even more engaging is the multiplatform execution in so many different media vehicles.”

Although terms were not disclosed, the Geico deal represents one of the most expansive in NGC’s eight-year history, and is estimated to be worth upwards of $10 million. NGC senior vp, media sales Rich Goldfarb nailed down the sponsorship during the 2008 upfront.

Geico in 2007 spent $595 million on measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, and about $470 million through September of last year.

The network and the insurance company have been partners since NGC’s inception. In addition to recurring 30-second on-air spots, the Geico gecko regularly makes appearances on the channel’s Web site in both traditional banner ads and skyscrapers.

“We always strive to partner with our clients to provide customized and effective solutions that address their marketing goals,” Goldfarb said. “This was an exceptionally creative approach and is the first time we have integrated our talent with an existing campaign in a way that combines humor and solid information.”

New episodes of Dangerous Encounters premiere Saturday nights at 8 p.m. on NGC.