GEICO


GEICO

Infobox_Company
company_name = Government Employees Insurance Company
(doing business as GEICO)
company_
company_type = Subsidiary
slogan = 1. "Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance."
2. "It's so easy a caveman could do it"
3. (Geico Motorcycle) One call could save you money on your motorcycle insurance too...let's ride.
foundation = 1936, Fort Worth, TX
location = Chevy Chase, Maryland
key_people = Olza M. "Tony" Nicely, CEO & Chairman
num_employees = 23,000
industry = Insurance
products = Auto insurance
owner = Berkshire Hathaway
revenue = $9.212 billion USD (2004) [Revenue: premiums written (2004), from [http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1067983/000095012905002423/a06623e10vk.htm Berkshire Hathaway 10-K] ]
homepage = [http://www.geico.com/ www.geico.com]

The Government Employees Insurance Company, usually known by the acronym GEICO, is an American auto insurance company. GEICO is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway and, as of 2007, provided coverage for more than 10 million motor cars, trucks and other motor vehicles owned by more than 8 million policy holders. GEICO writes private passenger automobile insurance in the District of Columbia and in all U.S. states except Massachusetts. The company is notable for its television advertising, with several prominent campaigns running simultaneously in national markets.

History

GEICO was founded in 1936 by Leo Goodwin and his wife Lillian Goodwin to provide auto insurance directly to federal government employees and their families [See [http://www.geico.com/about/background/geicoHistory.htm History page] on company website] . GEICO's original business model was predicated on the assumption that federal employees as a group would constitute a less risky and more financially stable pool of insureds, as opposed to the general public. Despite the presence of the word "government" in its name, GEICO has always been a private corporation and "not" a government agency.

A dominant figure in GEICO’s history is David Lloyd Kreeger (1919-1990), who became president of the company in 1964 and helped to steer it into a major insurance enterprise. As noted in his New York Times obituary November 20, 1990, Kreeger was the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia. He was graduated with high honors from Rutgers and from Harvard Law School, where he was editor of The Law Review. Kreeger joined the Department of Agriculture as a lawyer early in FDR’s presidency; he later worked in the Department of the Interior. He then worked for the Justice Department. In 1948, he formed a group of investors who bought into GEICO. He became senior vice president and general counsel of the company.

Six years after becoming president of GEICO in 1964, he was named chairman and chief executive officer. He retained those titles until he retired in 1974. He continued as chairman of the executive committee until 1979, when he was named honorary chairman.

An accomplished amateur violinist, Kreeger was internationally known as a collector of Impressionist and modern painting and sculpture. He was was president and chairman of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington for almost 20 years. Today, he is perhaps best known for the Kreeger Museum, a mansion on Foxhall Road in Washington, DC, in which he and his wife, Carmen, also a patron of the arts, lived since 1968. It was designed by the architect Philip Johnson as a showcase for the Kreeger collection.

Intriguingly, the GEICO web site avoids any mention of David Lloyd Kreeger (http://www.geico.com/about/corporate/history/).

In the 1970s, under Kreeger's leadership, GEICO began to insure the general public, after real-time access to computerized driving records became available throughout the United States. In 1996, GEICO became a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

GEICO generally deals directly with consumers via the telephone and the Internet, freeing up capital that would otherwise be spent on employing insurance agents in the field. As a result, the company is now the largest direct writer of private auto insurance in the United States. [http://www.geico.com/about/background/geicoGlance.htm GEICO at a Glance] on company website] Today, GEICO does market their products through a small number of field agents, most of whom are based near military bases [ [http://www.bamautoinsurance.com/geico.php Geico ] ] ; more recently, GEICO has begun opening offices in locations other than near military bases. These agents are known as GFRs (GEICO Field Representatives).

Advertising Campaigns

GEICO's advertising strategy incorporates a saturation-level amount of print (primarily mail circulars) and television parody advertisements, as well as radio advertisements. A common tagline used by GEICO is "fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance."

Individual Ads

Airing roughly in the same time period as the "Stupid Things" ads, GEICO presented a number of memorable one shot ads. A man whose insurance company didn't offer a loaner car left his house covered in magnets and "bummed a ride" by attaching himself to a passing car. A man's dog wears a metal heat protection suit as he delivers a competing insurance company's bill because its 'too hot to handle'. Another man's dog rolls on his back laughing hysterically as his owner reads his bill. As an example of other companies' lack of service, a man in a diner tells a waitress he didn't order mayo on his sandwich, at which point she scrapes it off the side of the table. To showcase GEICO's 24-hour service, GEICO employees are shown wearing hats with cups of coffee attached to them instead of beer. A police unit tracks down an apparent earthquake, only to find the source is a man joyously jumping up and down over the money GEICO saved him. A man hires a team of bloodhounds to find his Acme Insurance agent after hours, only to find only a terrified janitor in the building. One of the most popular of these ads featured a man using the code name Bob Wehaddababyitsaboy to avoid having to pay long distance collect phone bills. This commercial ran for a few weeks with just the joke and the pitch for GEICO, and then another shot of the man on the telephone saying "Last name is Wehadababyitsaboyandweighs8pounds3ouncesandisdoingfine". The commercial was re-edited to remove the tag joke and add "Don't cheat the Phone Company, save money the legal way with GEICO" after the opening joke.

"Stupid Things" Ad Campaign

Early GEICO ads were animated in the style of Bill Plympton and showed a man doing something foolhardy, such as pressing a button and causing a cannon to fire at him. A voice over would then say, "We all do dumb things. Paying too much for car insurance doesn't have to be one of them." These were very short and were generally aired with two back-to-back.Fact|date=October 2007 A few live-action "Stupid Things" ads were also filmed. A man engrossed in a movie starts eating the dried leaves on a nearby plant instead of his popcorn. A man spills coffee on himself as he checks the time. A barbecue chef played by Paul Goebel pours too much lighter fluid on his grill and creates a fireball. These commercials also ended with the tagline "We all do dumb things. Paying too much for car insurance doesn't have to be one of them."

The GEICO gecko

The company's ads sometimes focus on its reptilian mascot, the GEICO gecko, a talking Day Gecko created by The Martin Agency and most recently a CGI creature generated by Framestore CFC. The gecko first appeared in 1999 during the Screen Actors Guild strike that prevented the use of live actors. In the original commercial, where the gecko pleads for people to stop calling him in error, mistaking "gecko" for "GEICO", he was voiced by Kelsey Grammer. In the subsequent commercials, the gecko speaks with an English (Cockney) accent, because it would be unexpected, according to Martin Agency's Steve Bassett. Jake Wood, a British actor and comedian, is the current voice of the GEICO gecko. In current commercials the gecko's accent is more working-class, perhaps in an effort to further "humanize" him. ["Little Lizard Says 'Ello To A New Inflection", The Hartford Courant, 22 February 2006.] "As computer animation got better and as we got to know the character better, we did a few things," says Steve Bassett, creative director at The Martin Agency. "We wanted to make him a little more guy-next-door. And he looks a lot more real than he's looked before." [http://www.usatoday.com/money/advertising/adtrack/2006-07-16-geico_x.htm Gecko wasn't first choice for Geico.] USA Today, July 16 2006. Retrieved Feb 16 2007.] A recent series of ads show a nature show host, clearly patterned on David Attenborough, attempting to observe the gecko and obtain footage, but failing to do so.

Parodies

Another common theme is misdirection, in which the commercial appears to be about an unrelated product (or, in fact, may not even be a commercial) and suddenly changes to become a plug for GEICO. The commercials use a variety of fictional characters such as Speed Racer, Mrs. Butterworth, Jed Clampett, and Bill Dutchess as well as real people such as Tony Little, Little Richard, Joan Rivers, Peter Frampton, Don LaFontaine, and James Lipton spoofing themselves. Other commercials relate to a hair loss doctor who has saved by switching to GEICO, a nature show about a fish, and a soap opera of a couple who are breaking up. Another set of GEICO ads involved a fictional reality show called "Tiny House" in which contestants were forced to live in a half-scale house.

An additional commercial theme is the promotion of fictional products. In 2006 parody ads featured such products as long distance phone service, tomato soda, fast-food, a reality TV show, dolls, and even poking fun at the Old Navy commercials - in all cases, the parody portion of the ad ends with "but it won't save you any money on car insurance." After the GEICO slogan is heard, the commercials end with "Why haven't you called GEICO?" This use of fictional products in commercials is reminiscent of the Energizer Bunny campaign for batteries from the late '80s.

The parody pitch crossed over to the Caveman campaign (see below) in a recent 10 second spot that appears to be a talking heads news interview, but features the popular caveman.

"I've got good news"

In another ad campaign, a character would be breaking bad news to another (such as a baseball manager lifting a struggling pitcher for a reliever), but then offer helpfully, "I've got good news," and explain, "I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to GEICO!" That news, of course, is of no immediate use at all to the other character. Some of the ads were parodies and/or featured celebrities, including, for example, Esteban. The exchange became parodied for a time while the ads were popular. One of the most watched "I've got good news" spots was a soap opera parody featuring television actor Sebastian Siegel.

Bland salesman

In another series, a GEICO pitchman is played by actor Jerry Lambert in an extremely bland and understated way, parodying the stereotype of an insurance man, such as reading to some bored-looking kids, from a book of fairy tales about insurance. In one segment, he reads a supposed e-mail from a viewer saying it would be "the bomb", i.e. something good, if the Gecko would do a dance called "The Robot". Cut to the Gecko doing that dance smoothly and gracefully (to the tune of a not-for-public-sale melody called "Sweet World" by a group called "Comega Men" [http://www.geico.com/fun/blog/blog19.htm] , which was used in the arcade video game "In the Groove 2") and then back to the insurance salesman attempting to do the same dance, seemingly more stiffly than an actual robot would.

Celebrities

There are also GEICO ads that feature stories from GEICO customers about situations in which Geico assisted them, but narrated by celebrities such as Charo, Burt Bacharach, Little Richard, Don LaFontaine ("that announcer guy from the movies"), Peter Graves, and Verne Troyer. D.C. Douglas was also featured. [ [http://advertising.about.com/od/commercialspotlight/p/spotlightgeico.htm Commercial Spotlight: Geico Featuring Celebrities ] ]

Other recent ads have included James Lipton, Police Academy's Michael Winslow ("that guy who does those funny sound effects"), Peter Frampton, Joan Rivers, The Pips, and Mrs. Butterworth's talking syrup bottle.

Cavemen

A popular series of well-received advertisements uses cavemen as pitchmen. Also developed by the Martin Agency, the ads center on Neanderthal-like cavemen, no different from modern-day individuals (outside of the somewhat pre-historic facial features), encountering either an ad or commercial with the tagline "GEICO: so easy a caveman could do it," followed by their disgust with the supposed stereotype of caveman stupidity. The ads posit a world where cavemen are still alive and active members of society in the present day, behaving and living nothing at all like the stereotypical caveman. The main characters presented in the ads are affluent, educated, and cultured, eating at fancy restaurants, going to exclusive parties, and seeing their therapists (portrayed in the commercials by two-time Oscar-nominated actress Talia Shire). The humor revolves around the relative normality of the cavemen's presence and their reactions to the stereotype represented in the ads, and their attempts at defending themselves from the stereotype.

The ads were so successful that the commercial actors are appearing in a successful series of interactive websites written and produced by GEICO's in-house creative team at [http://www.cavemanscrib.com Caveman's Crib] and most recently, [http://www.iheartcavemen.com iHeartcavemen] . A spin off TV series, titled "Cavemen" and starring new actors, debuted on ABC Television in October 2007 [ [http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117960384.html?categoryid=1300&cs=1 ABC developing 'Cavemen' - Entertainment News, Pilot Watch, Media - Variety ] ] to overwhelmingly negative critical reaction.

My Great Rides

In 2007, GEICO also launched a social networking site, [http://www.mygreatrides.com My Great Rides] , for motorcycle owners. My Great Rides is a place for cycle owners to share stories about trips they have taken on their bikes, as well as post pictures of their motorcycles, and comment on other members stories and pictures.

GEICO Racing

The number 7 car of the NASCAR Nationwide Series is driven by Mike Wallace and is sponsored by GEICO. Commercials involving the race team are of a young boy, played by actor Eddie Heffernan claiming to be a relative of Mike Wallace and being a better driver. The boy says, "When people see Mike Wallace and the Geico number 7 doing well, they'll think of saving a bunch of money on car insurance. But when they see me, they'll say, 'There goes Lauren Wallace; [http://www.geicoracing7.com/photos.html Geico Racing] the greatest thing to ever climb into a racecar.'"

The commercials are sometimes presented in an interview fashion, where an unseen narrator speaks to the ambitious go-kart driver. "What do you think of Mike Wallace?" the child is asked, to which he responds, "Whatever, he's out there selling car insurance, I'm out there to win." When questioned on his relation to the NASCAR driver, Lauren shakes his head and concludes, "I didn't say I wouldn't go fishing with the man, all I'm saying is if he comes near me, I'll put him in the wall." To which the narrator questions him, "You don't race in the Busch Series." Lauren replies "Listen, go-kart track, grocery store, those ; when it comes to Mike Wallace the story ends with me putting him in the wall."

New ads in this lineup include Lauren referring to himself as being, "100 miles away and ready to strike," and "lightning in a bottle."

The success of those ads resulted in the launch of an interactive website written and produced by GEICO's in-house creative team at [http://www.geicogarage.com GEICO Garage] . The site includes cameo appearances by Lauren Wallace and drivers Mike Wallace, his daughter Chrissy Wallace, Speed TV's Tommy Kendall, Paul Tracy, Christian Fittipaldi and Max Papis.

15 Minutes Online

Another series of advertisement features separate YouTube videos of seemingly nonsensical actions, such as a hallway mattress fight, or a highly unusual collection of expressions uttered by a webcam user (YouTube's Brandon Hardesty). As the videos continue, an announcer states, "There may be better ways to spend 15 minutes online." Similar to the 'Stupid Things' ads, these commercials are also often aired back-to-back.

TRS: The Real Scoop

Introduced in September, 2007, this series of ads features an "E! True Hollywood Story"-type show about famed fictional characters such as Fred Flintstone, Jed Clampett, and even a Cabbage Patch Kid named Ben Winkler claiming to have their cars (the Flintmobile, Jed's 1923 Oldsmobile truck, and a Plymouth Reliant, respectively) insured by GEICO, featuring interviews with made-up investigators (however, the Ben Winkler spot does not have an interview). These commercials were voiced over by narrator David O'Brien.

Competition

GEICO's major competitors include State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, Nationwide, and USAA. Progressive is particularly countered in their commercials, with many GEICO commercials countering Progressive's claims of being able to quote their rates and those of several of their competitors' rates by stating that GEICO quotes are only available at GEICO.com.

College Recruiting

Current college student can apply for paid summer internships that involve working on projects and interacting with management. Undergraduate seniors and graduate students can apply for the prestigious Emerging Leaders Program. Emerging Leaders are full-time employees that rotate through several departments while working on projects to be prepared for management positions. More information can be found at [http://careers.geico.com/college_recruiting] . According to Business Week's "The Best Places to Launch a Career 2008", Geico was ranked #62 out of 119 companies featured on the list. [http://bwnt.businessweek.com/interactive_reports/career_launch_2008/index.asp]

References

External links

* [http://www.geico.com/ GEICO] official website


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