In my early copywriter days, there was a premium on “different for different’s sake.” The more bizarre the idea, the more creative you obviously were. Then maturity hit, and I actually embraced the notion that, while it was still very important to stand out and be noticed, that only mattered if, in doing so, you built it around a compelling and memorable connection to the product.
As creative director a number of years ago, I was forced to be the clueless adult who missed the “wisdom” of an idea one of my writers had – a “taste test” for a national brand of paper towels. (Interviewer: “Now isn’t that absorbent?” Test Subject: “Psfft -spit-spit-spit.” ) She was convinced it was breakthrough. I just thought it was dumb.
But a recent spot from Geico makes that old paper towel concept a lot better – at least that pretended to relate to a feature of paper towels. Geico doesn’t even bother. The subjects simply taste two different drinks, and find out the tastier one “is” Geico, while the other (the foul-tasting one) is Brand X.
Geico has always fascinated me with its tendency to conduct several different ad campaigns at once. And I have enjoyed many of them. Because they usually connected to a benefit, at least loosely. (I still laugh thinking of the “Abe Lincoln” spot.) And though I don’t love the lizard, it’s becoming iconic and has a link to the name.
As far as the taste test commercial goes, sorry. I just think it’s dumb.