The GEICO Gecko Has Been Around For Much Longer Than You Think

Lisa Steuer McArdle
· 3 min read
Most people are familiar with the
Gecko from the company’s famous advertising campaigns. The figure has become an advertising icon ever since it was introduced more than 20 years ago. Back then, the GEICO Gecko was featured in an ad complaining that consumers were confusing it for the
car insurance
The GEICO Gecko ad campaign was part of a big shift in insurance advertising. Traditionally, insurance ads featured happy families, with a voice-over explaining that everything would be alright if everyone had the right coverage, according to
The New York Times
The GEICO Gecko added something relatively new to insurance advertising—humor, while conveying a simple message at the end:
save money
on car insurance with a 15-minute phone call.
Even though the GEICO has gone through many spokespeople and ad campaigns, the GEICO Gecko has remained a constant.
The GEICO Gecko has become an advertising icon | Twenty20

The GEICO Gecko and more

Technically, it all started in 1995, when Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway investment firm made a bid for the remaining shares of GEICO’s outstanding stock. By 1996, GEICO was a subsidiary of one of the country’s most profitable organizations, which led to a huge national advertising campaign.
Soon after the GEICO Gecko made its first appearance during a 2000 television commercial, according to the company’s website.
The GEICO Gecko was conceived by the Martin Agency to help reinforce the insurance company’s name and also help people figure out how to pronounce it, according to The New York Times.
In 2005, the GEICO Gecko was elected to the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame created by Advertising Week, a weeklong gathering of marketing professionals. In the 2000s, the GEICO Gecko even became a "spokescreature" for a national touring gecko exhibit. At zoos and aquariums around the country, the Gecko promoted wildlife conservation efforts.
Since the introduction of the GEICO Gecko, the company has introduced other memorial ad campaigns, such as the Cavemen, which debuted in 2004 with the slogan "So easy even a caveman can do it." Just three years later, the Cavemen were featured in new ads and an interactive website.
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The impact of the GEICO Gecko and the growth of the company

After these advertising initiatives, GEICO celebrated a growth spurt in 2009, reaching 9 million policyholders early in the year.
This number increased to 11 million in 2012, and added another 3 million over the next four years. Finally in 2019, GEICO reached 17 million policies.
In addition, before signing on with the Martin Agency, GEICO had a 2% market share, and was reportedly the eighth largest car insurance company in the country. Now, it’s No. 2 after State Farm.
Today, the GEICO Gecko remains a well-known and popular figure in the company’s advertising, spreading the news about saving money on car insurance as a GEICO ambassador.

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MORE: Why Do So Many Insurance Companies Sponsor Stadiums?
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