This title is redundant. Car insurance spokespeople, by nature, are obnoxious. Any marketing product that tries to make an exciting or hilarious adventure out of something as mundane and boring as car insurance is, by definition, obnoxious. However, there are some that are worse than others. The following are just a few of the worst.
CHARACTERS: The Cavemen
The only car insurance characters in history to spawn their own television pilot, the cavemen are one of Geico’s most successful advertising campaigns in history. However, it is time for them to join their forefathers in extinction.
After making the jump from commercial, to television, to a music video, there is no going back. The commercials were wildly popular, but the television show bombed, so now they are running commercials again. Unfortunately, this is the advertising equivalent of the college freshman who keeps hanging around his high school because it was the last place he was cool. I’m sorry, cavemen. There are no sloppy seconds in advertising.
CHARACTER: Money Eyes
“Somebody’s watching me” by Mysto & Pizzi is the perfect song to have on your playlist in case it ever becomes 1996 again and it’s your turn to throw the family rave. In the meantime, it should not be used to sell car insurance.
Aside from the fact that the main character in these commercials is an arts and crafts project from third grade, the song is so mind-numbingly catchy that it makes you want to throw a brick into the local Geico office long before you consider buying their insurance. Although the point of advertising is for commercials to stick with the consumer, it can be done in a way that doesn’t make the consumer want to slit their wrists.
Holding down the fort at the imaginary Progressive store, a location inspired by what Heaven would look like if it were located inside a Walgreens pharmacy, Flo is the commercialized version of a Wal-Mart greeter.
The problem with putting a greeter as the face of your company is that the majority of the public doesn’t like greeters. In fact, Progressive’s online-only business model is the complete opposite of what they are trying to convey in their ads. I would much rather Progressive embraced their methods of insurance sales and replace Flo with a robot, something akin to Johnny 5 or the robot Paulie had in Rocky IV. Either way, it would be a much more accurate, and far less shrill representation of what Progressive is selling.
COMPANY: All State
CHARACTER: Dennis Haysbert
Pedro Cerrano was the hardest hitting, most badass voodoo enthusiast to ever play the game of Hollywood baseball, before hanging up his cleats to sell a whole bunch of “be careful” to the masses.
Also known for roles in 24 and The Unit, everything about Haysbert suggests that he is a man’s man who likes to kick ass and take names. Therefore, selling his soul to an insurance agent makes no sense for this high-octane actor. This role should have gone to a much more fitting actor, like Rick Moranis or the dude who played Steve Urkel long before it went to Dennis Haysbert.
CHARACTER: The Duck
So as it turns out, Aflac doesn’t insure cars. Nevertheless, I’m blaming the rise of annoying car insurance commercials on Gilbert Gottfried and this campaign, as it seems to predate all other insurance commercials.
Who better than Gilbert Gottfried, the man who sounds like a tape recorder stuck on rewind with the volume at 11, to act as the pitchman for an insurance company? As it turns out, the answer to that question is “anybody.” Gottfried has a voice that can cut glass. Hiding it behind an occasionally terrifying robotic duck does not magically make it sound cute. Aflac may not insure cars, but their decision to try to make mundane insurance exciting and comical has single-handedly paved the way for the current onslaught of obnoxious spokespeople that the industry is producing.
CHARACTER: Japanimated Spy
A cross between a 1960’s spy movie and Japanimated porn, the Esurance commercials are obnoxiously difficult to decipher.
A failed attempt at making car insurance sexy (though the effort is enthusiastically applauded), these commercials feature a spy who is sometimes running, sometimes chasing, and always causing collateral damage to automobiles. While her objectives may not always be clear, her reason for selling car insurance is… well, also unclear.
CHARACTER: The Gecko
In all honesty, I like the Geico Gecko. He is refined, earnest, and likable. He can be seen here, from a commercial dating back to 1999:
Imagine then, my shock and horror when I found out that somewhere down the line, he had been recast by this chimney-sweeping hobo of a character:
It’s hard to imagine any actor in less demand than a CGI gecko, but apparently that’s not the case, as Geico felt the need to recast. Exactly what happened or what it says about Geico’s view of the public, remains to be seen. Turning a classy and refined British gentleman into a Cockney street vagrant in order to sell insurance to the masses seems like a massive mistake.
While commercials should be entertaining, oftentimes their ultimate goal is to just elicit a response from the public, even if that response is disdain. Whether or not these commercials were attempts at entertainment, infuriation, or both, the fact remains that these obnoxious spokesmen are some of the most effective ads on television. For many, that is reason enough to hate them.