Geico is mingling with another brand again. The insurance marketer last year featured the Pillsbury Doughboy in an ad and is now partnering with candy maker Mars for a new TV spot that will co-star the Geico gecko and M&M's spokescandy Ms. Brown.
While the Doughboy ad was led by Geico, this latest interbrand mash-up was the brainchild of M&M's and the brand's agency, BBDO, New York. But the ad was crafted to benefit both brands.
The spot shows Ms. Brown demanding insurance protection in the event she is eaten. She concedes that because she is "made out of delicious chocolate" she is "high risk," but points out that she has been waiting for 15 minutes, which is a reference to Geico's long-running tagline of "15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance." She walks out of the gecko's office disgruntled, only to bump into yet another Geico character, the "Hump Day" Camel, whom she derides as "hump boy." The ad, perhaps not coincidentally, will debut on a Wednesday.
The original concept was to play up the idea that Ms. Brown is "so delicious everyone wants to eat her, and she'll have difficulty getting insurance," said Roy Benin, chief consumer officer for Mars Chocolate North America. "The idea snowballed, and we felt that Geico would be just a terrific partner given the recognition value of their gecko."
The ad also raises the possibility of cost-sharing between Geico and Mars, since both marketers get something out of it. Mr. Benin declined to detail the financial arrangement. But he said Mars wanted to ensure the ad delivered the "integrity and strategy and messaging" for both brands.
While BBDO led the effort, the shop consulted with Geico's agency, The Martin Agency, "to ensure that they were bringing our characters to life in an authentic way," according to a Martin Agency spokeswoman.
Ted Ward, VP-marketing for Geico, said in a statement that "the M&M spokescandies are recognized and beloved the world over, so if our gecko and camel were ever going to appear in someone else's commercial, this seemed like the perfect opportunity." He added that "these icons have amassed considerable brand equity, but rarely outside of their familiar surroundings. We hope this spot will reveal an entertaining and unexpected twist for consumers."
M&Ms began teasing the ad today on social media, including a Facebook post showing an image of a Geico customer-service representative denying coverage because of a "high level of irresistibility."
The gecko did not appear in last year's Doughboy spot.
But he does have experience sharing the stage: The spokes-lizard ran into Taco Bell's Chihuahua in a 2002 Geico ad called "audition."