Thursday, June 4, 2009

Too Much Time on my Hands

It's occurred to me that at some point, Geico will stop throwing mascots at us and finally settle on just one. I just don't think that the American Attention Span will sustain multiple spokespersons/digital images/etc. and that someone over at Corporate will put his career on the line and give the axe to one of the Geico mouthpieces. But which will survive?

Let's take a look at the contenders and handicap their chances:

1) The Geico Gecko. This one first appeared in 2000 asking people to please, PLEASE stop calling and asking him about how to get a great deal on auto insurance, because he's a GECKO, and the insurance company we are apparently trying to reach is called GEICO. Later, the digital lizard "interviewed" for the job of Geico spokesman, and the rest is history (well, not really. You know what I mean.) Over the last several years, the Gecko-as-Spokesperson has been carried....well, not very far, actually. Today's Gecko Commercials look a LOT like the ones that were being made eight years ago. We haven't been introduced to other digital animals that are acquainted with the Gecko, we haven't met the Gecko's family....for which we should be eternally grateful.

2) The Geico Cavemen. Grooooaaaan. Look, the first commercial, with a caveman coming out of nowhere to protest the "Even a Caveman can do it" line, was cute. The follow-up with the Geico spokesman taking two angry cavemen out to dinner as an apology was good, too. The Caveman discussing his issues with a Therepist was just plain funny. But Geico, having hit on a decent gag, decided to do what companies generally do to decent ideas- beat it to death, ressurect it, and then beat it to death again. Cavemen arguing over the propriety of working for Geico. Caveman attending dinner parties. Cavemen bowling, walking through airports, getting caught by the Fan of the Game camera at NBA games. Christ, ABC even had the brilliant idea of trying to create a sitcom based on these fricking commercials in the fall of 2007. It lasted about ten minutes. (When you try to make a tv show based on a commercial, you've run out of ideas. Especially when it's based on a commercial puttering along on a joke that's as stale as last year's donuts.)

In short, look for the Geico Cavemen in the dictionary under the word Played. As in, enough already. As in, let it go.

3) The stack of money with googly eyes. This is a triumph of minimalism which puts "Five Dollar Foot-Longs" to shame. People oddly startled by the sight of a stack of bills wrapped in rubber bands and decorated with googly eyes. Except for the fact that the meaning has to be explained in each commercial, and that we have to endure a remix of bland 80s hit Somebody's Watching Me, there's not much to complain about with this one. Simple, and to the point. No "adorable" lizard with Australian accent, no need to come up with story lines involving sensitive cavemen.

My guess is that when it comes time to cut overhead, the Googly-eyed stack of bills survives. After all, the production costs must be close to zero- no actors to demand more money if and when the commercials become more popular, and I doubt that Rockwell is gouging the company for the use of it's 1984 hit. No need for Kelsey Grammer or anyone else to provide voice work. And best of all, it's hard to see a tv network trying to build a sitcom around the adventures of a bundle of cash with eyes.

Memo to networks: that is NOT a dare.

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