Thoughts on the GEICO Gecko, the Hyundai singer and Verizon

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

10 January 2011

The GEICO Gecko has played itself out

The holiday season is over, we’re all back to our regular routines so let me reflect on a few thoughts on brand meaning rolling around in my head: The GEICO Gecko: It’s time to retire the GEICO Gecko, and GEICO should have done it much earlier. Although the GEICO Gecko originally created a bit of a cultural stir, it has represented in my mind what has been the main problem with GEICO all along: Its characters, while interesting and sometimes funny, had no brand meaning. They just represent entertainment, not a reason to switch. Let alone steal market share.

And that’s the reason why the GEICO Gecko became tiresome and annoying. Because it never meant anything in the first place.

“The reason we are all tired of the GEICO Gecko is whatever appeal it had did little to support whatever brand meaning GEICO has. It might as well have been a caveman.”


GEICO GeckoWe often tell clients that they’ll get more tired of a campaign before audiences will – but that’s only the case if the campaign has meaning. Ronald McDonald has lasted so long as a character because he has meaning (fun for kids) that relates to the McDonalds brand.

The reason we are all tired of the GEICO Gecko is whatever appeal it had did little to support whatever brand meaning GEICO has. It might as well have been a caveman.

Hyundai’s singer: In case you were wondering (and I was), the girl singing in those Hyundai commercials is named Nataly Dawn of the folk-jazz group Pomplamoose. (I looked it up.) I found those spots damn appealing, with just the right tone, and they show what on-screen talent can do.

I doubt it sold more cars than usual, though I can imagine the spots raised awareness of the Hyundai brand just because they were different, memorable and appealing.

However, they do not increase preference because the tone/attitude/meaning of the spots do not relate to the Hyundai brand of “Assurance.” We’d get tired of Ms. Dawn just as quickly as the Gecko if those spots ran all year.

Verizon: As of 2 pm on Monday, Verizon’s stock was up while the Dow was down. Hmm, wonder why that is? Anticipation of Tuesday’s announcement of the iPhone coming to Verizon?

The conventional thinking is that, once the iPhone is at Verizon, AT&T customers will switch because of customer dissatisfaction and Verizon will have regained the market leadership it had before AT&T had the exclusive rights to the iPhone.

There will be some movement, sure, but I don’t think there’ll be some mass revolt. Switching is considered an ordeal, even if it really isn’t, and there’s little reason to switch when it’s Apple that’s carrying the brand, not AT&T or Verizon.

Once you have an iPhone, the most important move has already been made. The carrier doesn’t really matter.

See more posts in the following related categories: Apple GEICO GEICO gecko Hyundai iphone Verizon


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