On Geico’s ad icon shilling for some other brand

Posted by Rob Walker on September 26, 2007
Posted Under: Advertising,Entertainment,Reviews

Earlier this week a favored Murketing reader drew my attention a curious magazine ad from Weatherproof Garment Company. The print ad shows a caveman in a Weatherproof jacket. Of course this makes us think of the Geico cavemen who have moved from ads to a forthcoming sitcom (see earlier Consumed on that). The tag line on the jacket ad is “Weatherman Approved.” Normally, I guess, Weatherproof uses Al Roker in its ads.

I haven’t seen the sitcom, but this post on the site that is associated with Conde Nast’s business magazine, Portfolio, says that because the show “features a Cro-Magnon TV weatherman (he’s the token minority on a local news show), Weatherproof apparently thought it would be funny to have him play the Al Roker role in its new campaign…. But who pays for [the ad]? Weatherproof? ABC? Geico? All of the above?”

I asked a contact at the Martin Agency (creator of the Geico ads) about this. He mentioned that someone was writing an article on this very subject, so I’ve held off for a few days, but I still haven’t seen that article and I need to get this off my to-do list.

According to my contact, not only was Geico not involved in the Weatherproof ad, they didn’t know about it until the Martin Agency pointed it out. So Copyranter is correct in guessing that this is not a tie-in: “It’s just bald, blatant, shameless appropriation.” And certainly paid for by Weatherproof alone.

It’s not immediately clear whether anybody can own the idea of a caveman, and even if ABC or Geico could claim some kind of intellectual property theft, they’d be pretty crazy to do so.

Reader Braulio wondered what I thought about all this. Here’s my answer.

First, I think it’s a fairly astonishing tribute to the icon status of the cavemen. Clearly Weatherproof assumes that pretty much everybody is up on the cavemen, or the ad would make no sense at all.

Second, if it’s true that this is a reference to the idea that one of the sitcom cavemen is a “token minority” on a news broadcast, then it seems pretty weird for Weatherproof to have him stand in for Al Roker. What, exactly, is the parallel we’re supposed to draw?

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Comments are closed.