Why Does GEICO Run So Many Different TV Ads All At Once?

January 14, 2015

By Michael Berberich, manager, marketing knowledge center

If you’re like me (or like the writers of 30 Rock) you’ve always been curious as to why GEICO runs so many different TV ads concurrently. From an overly-sensitive (but highly cultured) caveman to a camel who loves Wednesdays to the now-iconic GEICO gecko, no other brand in the history of advertising has used so many branded characters and ads with differing tones and messages at the same time. At first glance it might not seem like a wise use of budget, but GEICO has two very good reasons for its TV strategy.

First, think of GEICO’s target audience: car drivers. There are more than 200 million Americans with driver’s licenses, and GEICO wants their business, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, taste, or region. Even megabrands like Coca-Cola are focusing on some sort of niche (younger consumers typically drink more sugary soda), but car insurance is as close to a “universal commodity” as you might find: if you don’t live in a major metropolis, it’s very likely you have a car, and if you own a car you have car insurance. At least I sincerely hope you do. When you think of it that way, it starts to make sense why GEICO would offer ads that range from straightforward and tame to the borderline absurd. 

The second reason for the volume and diversity of the ads is that people consume content (specifically TV content) differently than they used to. Fifty years ago, popular TV shows like Dragnet used to focus on one storyline per episode; today, shows like Game of Thrones, which has one of the largest TV followings of any show, can easily feature half a dozen intersecting storylines in a single episode. The digital revolution of the 1990s and early 2000s made us all media multitaskers, so it makes sense that a brand showing us so many different presentations of its messaging would appeal to us. Oh, and if you’re wondering if it’s made a difference in sales, how’s this: for the past 10 years GEICO has been the fastest growing insurance company in the U.S., going from the eighth- to second-largest provider in a category where the competition dwarfs them.

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