Geico has debuted the follow-up to its award-winning "Unskippable" campaign with a series of ads so outrageous it's hoping you won't mind that this time around, you won't even have an option to skip the films.
The new "Fast Forward" campaign from The Martin Agency includes a series of 15-second online videos that viewers can't click away from. But within seconds after they begin, the ads jump straight to some truly bizarre endings. One video, for example, opens on a pair of hikers treading the side of a cliff. The ad then announces, with a big Geico logo, "We now fast forward to the end of this Geico ad so you can get to your video faster," and then cuts to the hikers, now hanging from the claws of giant bird, one of them playing a saxophone.
Another spot opens on a pair of fisherman who somehow end up as ornaments above the fireplace of a giant fish's home, and a third ad stars two lumberjacks engaged in chit-chat when they encounter an angry grizzly, but then skips to find one of the men and the bear in a warm embrace. A final ad opens on a trio of elevators riders, two who somehow end up walking out with extremely unflattering hairdos.
"Last year it was all about the first five seconds, getting our message in there and rewarding people if they continue to watch," said Martin Agency VP-Creative Director Neel Williams. This year offered up a different challenge. "If it's a 15-second interruption, people are inclined to hate it," he said. "It feels very long when you just want to get to the new Beyoncé video."
But as the previous campaign proved, with obstacle comes opportunity. "How can we make it feel like it's going by fast, and how can we make people want to watch more?" Mr. Williams said.
"The answer was kind of obvious -- we want to run through it so you can get back to what you're watching," said Martin Agency VP-Creative Director Mauricio Mazzariol. Another challenge was "to make the 'meat' the reward. What you missed would be very rewarding."
The ads, while cryptic, are funny on their own, but viewers also have the option to find out how the stories got from point A to point Z by clicking into extended versions.
Those who do will find some equally out-there plotlines that explain the bizarre conclusions (see below). That means, however, that viewers would be intentionally leaving the content they originally intended to watch.
"It would be awesome if we actually draw people away from that Beyoncé video, but once again, the beauty of it is that we are delivering the message within the first five seconds," said Martin Agency Senior VP-Group Creative Director Steve Bassett. "Whether or not you go to the long-form ad, it still feels like Geico is doing you a favor."
The ads debut online today before YouTube content and Geico will support them on social media. The 15-second spots and their extensions will also live on YouTube.
To direct the ads, the agency tapped Furlined's Nick Ball. "One of the things we liked about his treatment is that even though we only see these characters on screen for a little bit, he really dove into their backstories," said Mr. Williams. "It helped so much through casting and led to some rich comedy."
When presenting the ads to the client, "to be honest in the way we sold it, we only presented one of the stories in full," said Martin Agency Senior VP-Group Creative Director Wade Alger.
Said Mr. Bassett, "It was almost like a mini focus group, and they asked, 'How did they get in the air playing a saxophone?' And we said, 'Exactly.'"