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GEICO advertising campaigns are known for using surreal scenarios which attempt to be humorous and satirical, often featuring distinctive characters such as the company's mascot, the GEICO gecko. The advertising strategy incorporates a saturation-level amount of print (primarily mail circulars) and television parody advertisements, as well as radio advertisements. A common line used by GEICO is "15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance"; and the common (yet overused and outdated) motto is "Trusted for 75 years." As of February 2021[update], however, it's currently 85 years old.
In the mid-1990s, insurance company advertising was considered novel and GEICO wanted to move towards insurance as a commodity rather than through a long-term relationship with a full service agent, as was the model at No. 1 State Farm. The predominant advertising for traditional insurance companies focused on the bad events which needed insurance (similar to Allstate's Mayhem) and GEICO believed that its target audience felt that insurance was just another necessary expense. Many of the most prominent television ad campaigns, such as the GEICO Gecko, the GEICO Cavemen, the Rhetorical Questions campaign featuring Mike McGlone, Maxwell the Pig, and the GEICO Hump Day Camel were developed by the Martin Agency, which has held the contract since 1994.
Investor Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of GEICO parent Berkshire Hathaway, has stated that he would spend $2 billion on GEICO ads if he could, approximately double the spending in 2012, which was $1.1 billion, over twice that of second place Progressive Corporation, with 6.8% of premiums going into commercials. In 2018, GEICO was the top advertiser for YouTube, supplying 6% of its revenue. On television, GEICO was the top spender in the insurance category, with 27.9% of ad spend and 22.4% of impressions in its category. GEICO is the second largest television advertiser in the United States after Procter & Gamble, which advertises many more consumer products from its various brands compared to a single product.
However, this is offset by not paying agents commissions, since GEICO uses a direct to consumer model. This has resulted in GEICO being the second largest auto insurer in the United States.
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