This might come as a surprise, but those people who talk to you in car insurance commercials don’t actually work in the car insurance industry. They’re mascots. Their purpose is to entertain you while still making sure you do the responsible thing by buying car insurance.
Prior to the 1990s, auto insurance ads were stuffy and boring. All that changed when ad agencies began creating wacky mascots to stand out in the field; before long, every auto insurance company had some type of crazy spokes-character.
Here are 25 of the most ridiculous.
1. GEICO’s Stack of Money
While an inanimate object may not seem like a very good mascot, the GEICO stack of money has done a fine job at creeping people into saving some money on their car insurance. Probably the weirdest thing about the commercials involving the stack of money is the fact that it has a larger set of eyeballs than you would see on a stuffed animal, or even a Muppet.
The music playing when the stack of money is presented is a 1980′s song entitled, “Somebody’s Watching Me” by the hip-hop artist Rockwell. Consider this the Stack of Money’s theme song.
The Stack of Money campaign began in 2008 and shows that GEICO is serious about its mascots. We say that in the plural, because GEICO has several mascots that you’ve probably seen. Nevertheless, the stack of money is by far the freakiest.
2. Allstate’s Mayhem
One of the newest mascots to be found on television, the character Mayhem for Allstate represents all that could go wrong while driving. This may or may not be a suggestion to buy insurance, but who are we really fooling with that statement? If the mug on Mayhem looks familiar to you, that’s because the actor who plays him, Dean Winters, was a popular character on the HBO prison drama “Oz”.
Mayhem parades around in situations no one wants to be in, causing accidents that are softened by having the proper insurance. It’s surprisingly entertaining and is sure to be around for quite some time.
Remember, Mayhem is everywhere.
3. GEICO’s Gecko
If you’re not familiar with the GEICO Gecko, you must not have a television (is such a thing possible?), as the reptilian mascot has been a part of GEICO’s marketing for over a decade. You might be surprised to know that the Gecko originally had an American accent. Today, that foreign-tinged voice you hear is known as the Cockney accent, which is used by working class folks in London.
Interestingly, the Gecko appeared in 1999 when computer generated graphics were becoming cheap to use, and there was a Screen Actors Guild strike that severely limited pitchmen. This created a situation that necessitated a fictitious talking lizard. The first commercials featuring the gecko involved situations where people confused him (a gecko) with the word GEICO.
Today, no one’s confused in the commercials about who he is; he’s just portrayed as the spokes-lizard for the company. This, presumably, is because everyone knows him through the billions of advertising dollars that GEICO has spent on him.
4. Progressive’s Flo
The Progressive mascot Flo, who acts as a salesperson/cashier in a starkly white space intended to represent Progressive.com, has become one of the most successful advertising campaigns for the company. The character of Flo is played by actress and comedian Stephanie Courtney, who portrays a woman in gaudy make-up who is overly (some say <i>annoyingly</i>) enthusiastic about insurance.
The Flo concept, created by Boston ad agency Arnold Worldwide, debuted with Progressive in 2008 and will likely continue on for some time. The character has resonated well and has enjoyed quite a bit on success on social networks. A Facebook fan page featuring the character has over 500,000 fans.
Pretty impressive, considering the marketing was expected to target those looking to switch insurance from an older demographic that isn’t really interested in Facebook.
5. GEICO’s Cavemen
“It’s so easy switching to GEICO that even a caveman could do it.” We’re not totally convinced that cavemen are capable of understanding concepts like liability and deductible coverage, but the tagline resonated well. Along with their “Gecko” campaign, the “Caveman” series has been entertaining in exploring the stereotypes that something supposedly simplistic like insurance is caveman-proof.
The entertaining element of the commercial spots is the contradiction that cavemen actually live in modern society and have contemporary interests. The concept was popular enough to spawn an ABC series in 2007 (it was canceled after only six episodes). A popular spot has a caveman remarking that the claim that “it’s so easy to switch, even a caveman could do it” is condescending to cavemen.
The popular campaign has motivated a huge number of consumers to make an insurance company switch, even those who are slightly more evolved.
6. Aflac Duck
The slogan of Aflac Insurance, “We’ve got you under our wing” has been well marketed by the Aflac duck. Shown in printed media as well as television commercials, the Aflac duck has humored many while annoying others. Perhaps the voice of Gilbert Gottfried is the reason for that. Sometimes guest starring along with real life celebrities, the Aflac duck has become somewhat of a celebrity itself.
Whether the Aflac duck is getting hurt or just getting scared, when he screams, he screams “Afffflaaaac.” In most commercials, the Aflac duck is seen throughout, saying “Aflac” to try and help people remember the insurance company’s name.
All of the commercials focus on different aspects of the supplemental insurance company, such as how Aflac pays for loss of wages and other things that are not covered by traditional insurance. If you can’t remember the insurance company’s name, you will certainly remember the Aflac mascot duck.
7. Erin Esurance
Although a sexy super agent, Erin Esurance lives a double life as an undercover insurance sales woman, protecting the world from evil and making sure everyone has proper insurance coverage at the same time. Biographically born in 1977, Erin Esurance didn’t come to life until mid-2004.
Of course, as a super agent Erin has to look the part. She ditches her brown hair for hot pink hair and goes from a button down collar and vest to a black skin tight jumpsuit. Her waist is tiny, her legs are extra long, and she has super abilities with the help of some super devices.
The cartoons are clever advertising for Esurance since they use quick flashes of graphics and old time comic book type blurbs throughout the advertisements. The premise behind the super hero is to have insurance because it’s the legal and right thing to do.
8. MetLife’s Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang
When Charles M. Schulz developed his Peanuts gang characters, he had no idea that Snoopy would become a mascot for MetLife. While Snoopy became the main marketing image for Metlife in 1985, all of the Peanuts gang characters played supporting roles in the various advertisements.
Snoopy has always been a beloved character and still remains so today. He represents a piece of Americana and a warm and secure feeling. That is the exact emotion that Metlife wants to capture through their use of Snoopy to sell their insurance products.
Feeling secure with Snoopy is meant to feel synonymous with feeling secure with Metlife insurance. Linus has his security blanket and you have your financial security with MetLife. MetLife still uses Snoopy for its branding today, although it is not televised as it once was.
9. Travelers Umbrella
Travelers Insurance uses an umbrella as its mascot for all of its commercials to signify complete insurance protection for auto, home, and business. Using various live animals such as a dog, a rattlesnake, and jungle animals, Travelers Insurance commercials play off of the idea that using insurance removes some worries out of life.
All of the Travelers insurance commercials use music to tell the story, typically classical blues music. There is a small amount of narration at the end of the commercials to recap Travelers insurance products.
Of course, the umbrella makes an appearance in every commercial. Usually it is featured toward the end and flies in to place itself as part of the logo. Some commercials are actually dominated by the umbrellas, having them flying everywhere to offer protection to everyone.
10. The General
The General has been selling car insurance for over 40 years, and has been using its mascot for just as long. The General’s mascot is an animated General with a long white handlebar mustache. A short man, he is dressed in a green uniform shirt, yellow pants, and a green helmet. He wears combat boots and has a commanding type of voice.
In some commercials, the General stands on a podium next to a live human representative. In other commercials, the General is a driving a large motor coach, which is funny in itself since he is such a small character behind a large wheel.
The animations for the General are not top of the line using CGI graphics or any fancy technology. Rather, it is a simplistic combination of a moving cartoon interacting with real people. Why spend more money on advertising when the General very simply represents itself so well?
11. Churchill Bulldog
Churchill Insurance started issuing car insurance in 1989 and expanded its product line to home insurance the next year. While they have gone through a couple of different mascots, they are currently known for their animated dog named, you guessed it, Churchill.
Designed out of a staff competition, Churchill is a bulldog that has been representing Churchill Insurance since 1996. The contest was initiated in 1994 in an attempt to separate the Churchill Insurance name from the famous UK statesman, Winston Churchill.
Although Churchill is an animated cartoon figure, only his head nods up and down and side to side, similar to a bobblehead doll. The rest of his body remains stationary. He speaks, but only with limited vocabulary, such as, “Yes,” “Of course, “and “No,” that corresponds with his bobbing head. The Churchill bulldog is now known as the mascot who can save you up to 50% on your car insurance.
12. The Eastwood Insurance Gunslinger
A gunslinger for an insurance mascot? Of course, when your name is Eastwood Insurance! Playing off of the Clint Eastwood name association, Eastwood Insurance adopted a gunslinger for its mascot. The real life actor named Jason Jacobs can be seen in several commercials, although his most famous one is where he can really be seen . . . in the shower.
In most of the gunslinger commercials, the cowboy can be seen fully clothed from his white cowboy hat and shirt to maybe his blue jeans and boots. While the dialogues and even monologues are somewhat silly, the cute cowboy makes up for it for many TV viewers.
Sometimes the cowboy is the star of the commercial and other times he is just the post ad sidekick. Most of the commercials end with the cowboy saying the Eastwood Insurance slogan, “Should’a, could’a, Eastwood’a”.
13. Wawa Dog
Wawanesa Insurance is available in the United States and in Canada. Selling insurance since 1896, they offer protection for your car, home, farm, and business. Although most of the Wawanesa commercials are in French (Wawanesa is based out of Quebec), the insurance company chose an English Bulldog for its mascot.
The English Bulldog has a big head, a stocky body, and short and stubby legs. Unlike other bulldogs, it has extra wrinkles of skin around its belly, giving it an intriguing appearance. Cute and comical, it does make a good mascot.
Using real English Bulldogs for its advertising, the dog stars in various commercials featuring dangerous incidents. However, no matter how close he is to the risks and hazards, the dog is never in peril since he is the Wawanesa Insurance dog; which is what he tells you when he barks, “Wa-Wa.”
14. State Farm’s Magic Jingle
State Farm Insurance has tried several mascots over the years, but its most memorable one is probably its intangible mascot, the magic jingle. State Farm’s slogan is their jingle: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” Unlike other jingles in commercials, this one has a magical slant to it. When someone runs into trouble, all they have to do is sing the jingle and, like magic, their State Farm agent appears to take care of everything.
The State Farm representative that appears may be either male or female and both play the role of serious State Farm insurance agents. The actors and actresses in the commercials are everyday people who, quite honestly, are not very good singers. This in itself is amusing; and coupled with funny wishes and catchy dialogue the magic jingle ends up working quite well as a mascot.
If a ball breaks your window or your car gets sideswiped in a parking lot, singing the magic jingle won’t really deliver your agent to you in an instant. It does, however, reassure you that your agent is never far away.
15. Lincoln Insurance’s “Big Daddy Pimp”
Most people would not think of using a pimp as a mascot to sell any product really, except maybe prophylactics, but Lincoln Auto Insurance has dared to be different. Using a gold-toothed pimp and a couple of his “girls,” Lincoln Insurance has created a mascot that most would consider to be taboo. Especially since this mascot is the sole counselor in the commercials, advising you to buy insurance from Lincoln.
The pimp is dressed ridiculously, sporting a giant “Gangsta” ring and leopard shoes and jacket. The girls that accompany him wear low cut tops to show some cleavage. By no means are any of the actors or actresses in the Lincoln Auto Insurance commercials professional.
Since Lincoln Auto Insurance started advertising on television they have used amateurs for all of their T-V spots and that “cable commercial, oh this is bad” feeling you get watching it helps you remember them.
16. Eagle Insurance’s Eagleman
Along the lines of the Lincoln Auto Insurance commercials that are filmed by amateurs and acted by amateurs, Eagleman was a mascot for a local Chicago insurance company called Eagle Insurance. When it first aired it may have been considered one of the worst series of commercials ever made.
Beyond the atrocious acting is the bizarre way Eagleman presents his pitch for Eagle Insurance. In the commercial, Eagleman lands on the car of the person who has had an accident and then he lays an egg that hatches a baby eagle that is holding a rate sheet in his beak.
Although Eagle Insurance is still serving Chicagoland residents, they no longer use the Eagleman mascot. Perhaps they decided insurance should be a more serious business.
17. Eagle Insurance’s Eagle Woman
Despite the very corny advertising that Eagleman produced, Eagle Insurance decided to follow it up with a sequel. The next mascot they introduced to the un-enthralled audience was Eagle Woman. Just as ridiculous as its male counterpart Eagleman, Eagle Woman was not filmed by nor acted with professionals.
The commercials featuring Eagle Woman may not be funnier than Eagleman, but they are “punnier”. When a man starts paying attention to a girl instead of the road, he crashes his car. Of course, he doesn’t have insurance. Enter: Eagle Woman, who flies over head and drops her eggs, which have Eagle Insurance rates on them. “Look, she’s dropping her rates,” the so-called actors exclaim in a double entendre.
Specializing in cheap insurance, Eagle Insurance still uses the name Eagleman to reference itself, but in no longer is represented by the silly mascots.
18. Survival Insurance’s Hot Chick
In advertising, sex sells, so why shouldn’t Survival Insurance capitalize on that? Introducing hot chicks driving sexy cars or drinking beverages with a, well, what else, a straw. Some of the commercials have been so steamy they have been banned. Others have been banned for not bleeping out a certain explicative.
Survival insurance commercials feature different women who not only dress sexy but act sexy, too. The beautiful girl in the Red Ferrari can sell Survival Insurance to anyone, and so can the other hot chicks that are sitting in a car with their short, short mini-dress or standing by a bus bench with a midriff halter top.
It’s obvious that the marketing minds behind these campaigns are hoping that their advertisements will be remembered for the eye candy. The only question about these commercials, though, is why are the girls always sipping on a straw from a carton of milk?
19. IFA Auto Insurance’s “Flo Alternative” Martha
IFA Auto Insurance has come up with its own variation of the Progressive Insurance mascot Flo. In these commercials, a casting call reveals an overzealous fifties style red headed woman named Martha, who is being offered the position of spokesperson for IFA Auto Insurance.
The hook to the IFA Auto Insurance commercial is that they are not really interested in using a spokesperson. They prefer to just represent themselves as a real insurance company for real people without the use of gimmicks and mascots.
By poking fun at the mascots of other insurance company commercials they have found a way to give the advertising world a twist by using mascots while pretending they are not using mascots.
20. IFA Auto Insurance’s Freedom Fighter
Another fake casting call from IFA Auto Insurance introduces Freedom Fighter. Freedom Fighter is a female super hero who is older but still sexy and a little edgy, but not equipped to be a spokesperson for an insurance company.
Unlike Martha who plays off of Flo from Progressive, the Freedom Fighter commercial from IFA Auto Insurance talks indirectly about GEICO Insurance. The Freedom Fighter discusses both the gecko and the cavemen mascots, and then actually gets turned on by the thought of the cavemen.
This is another twist that is relatively new to the insurance industry, actually bringing up competitor mascots in its own advertising. While this is a novel idea to dispel the thought that mascots are needed to sell insurance, only time will determine its success.
21. Beaulieu Insurance Agency’s Chipmunk
Unlike IFA Auto Insurance who is trying to do away with the idea of mascots for advertising, The Donald W. Beaulieu Insurance Agency, Inc. is trying to be clever by introducing a new mascot of its own. With a low budget for advertising, the insurance company decided on amateur actors and low tech cinematography to airs its commercial.
The chosen mascot for the Beaulieu Insurance Agency is a chipmunk, but not a real chipmunk. He is a hand puppet with a helium balloon sucked voice. The commercial admits that the chipmunk was chosen because, “He’s funny, industrious, smart, and he works for peanuts.” The music that ends the commentary also has a comical undertone, possibly making this commercial one of the better low budget commercials made in the insurance industry.
It’s one thing to be a bad actor and not know it, like in the Eagleman insurance commercials. It’s another thing to be bad and not try to hide it. It’s an honest approach for an insurance company and almost refreshing.
22. GEICO’s Recycled Mascot: The Taco Bell Chihuahua
GEICO Insurance had to go through a lot of legalese to secure the rights to use the Taco Bell Chihuahua as one of its mascots. While she is the star in one of the commercials, she really only makes an appearance toward the end of the advertisement when she is seen co-starring with the famous Gecko lizard.
The Taco Bell Chihuahua was a romantic mascot for the fast food chain, and became quite popular for her, “Drop the Chalupa” line until they stopped using her for their advertising campaign. Then in 2002, GEICO cast the little dog for real in a commercial that was staged as a casting call. In the commercial, amidst all of the real people that are there to try out as a spokesperson, the Gecko and the Chihuahua meet.
Since the Chihuahua is known for its one-liners, it needed one for its insurance commercial, too. The famous Chihuahua line for this GEICO commercial comes right after she is greeted by the famous gecko when she responds in her Latin accent with, “Oh, great, a talking gecko.”
23. GEICO’s Little Piggy: Maxwell
Leave it to GEICO to create a mascot out of the littlest of the five little pigs. Maxwell is the little piggy who cries, “Wee, wee, wee” all the way home, literally. In every Maxwell commercial, his cries are the response to the question, “Can switching to GEICO really save you 15%?”
Maxwell sits in the back of a car, wearing his seatbelt of course, but has his head out of the window shouting “Wee” until Mrs. A tells him in a very frustrated voice that he is home.
GEICO continues to come up with clever mascots, and the use of the little piggy to confirm GEICO’s low car insurance rates is yet another successful advertising gimmick. Now, about those four other little piggies . . .
24. Allstate’s Magic 8 Ball
All State Insurance has a series of clever commercials with different mascots. One of their advertising gimmicks includes a famous toy from the eighties, the Magic 8 Ball. The Magic 8 Ball is a way to mysteriously get answers for all of your questions. In the All State commercial it is used to give you uncertain answers about your current insurance provider.
Dennis Haysbert stars as the spokesperson in the Magic 8 Ball commercial as well as in several other commercials for All State Insurance. Famous for his character role as Nelson Mandela, Haysbert narrates to the television audience with a tone of authority and sincerity.
The Magic 8 Ball works well as a mascot because of the no nonsense way in which it is used. If you need straight answers about your insurance, All State will give them to you. No “Maybe” replies or magic mystery responses.
25. GEICO’s Vacuum Cleaner
Even back in the nineties GEICO was using mascots to make a name for their insurance company. Although they were not as advanced as the mascots of today, they were still clever and catchy enough to make a name for the popular insurance company.
The money sucking vacuum in the GEICO commercial represents all of the other insurance companies. Instead of letting the insurance companies take all of your money, GEICO suggests you pull the plug on them and switch your insurance products to GEICO.
The commercials made by GEICO Insurance early on are simple and to the point, which is still their basic concept today. Switching insurance can save you money. End of commercial.
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