In 2004 people were just starting to buy things like books and music online. Geico asked, can we make it just as easy for people to buy car insurance? That was basically the creative brief:
geico.com makes shopping for car insurance easy.
An important sidebar here. I love when a creative brief is this single-minded and clear. When you give a creative team that kind of clarity, you’ll get back ideas that go far beyond just another ad. Clear, simpler briefs and real human insights keep creative thinkers from going down paths that go nowhere or parsing through a dozen RTB’s (Reasons To Believe) that will never have the power of a singularly focused message.
The creative team who worked on the campaign for geico.com were two of the most talented in the agency. This was their elevator pitch to me:
What if we told people that geico.com was so easy to use a caveman can do it. But unbeknownst to Gecio, caveman were still around.
In a book, TV show, or movie, what makes the story engaging are the characters you create and the obstacles you put in their way.
Do you care about the characters? Do their obstacles seem insurmountable? Do tension and conflict keep the stories moving forward?
In our stories one caveman was militant, one needed therapy, and one just wanted “everybody to get along.” This kind of thinking translated beautifully into the many cavemen storylines we created over the years.
One last sidebar. As I said earlier, you know you have a big idea when an ad alone can’t contain it.
The Geico cavemen appeared on T-shirts, bumper stickers, in fashion spreads, on magazine covers, in music videos, as Halloween costumes, they’re even part of a permanent ad collection at MOMA. The cavemen characters also had their own mercifully, short-lived TV show on ABC.
Sixteen years later, the Geico cavemen are still alive and well and getting their feelings hurt. Oh, and one more thing. They’re still selling a ton of car insurance.