Saturday, October 25, 2008

Geico Cavemen

Geico recently rolled out a new set of TV spots in their "cavemen" series of commercials. One of them features a caveman inexplicably facing female tennis legend Billie Jean King in a match. Oblivious to his own poor performance, he is directed toward the scoreboard, at which point he spots a Geico banner and promptly packs it in, apparently feeling he was made the unwitting stooge in a gag of poor humor. The other ads are similarly-composed: the cavemen, initially enthusiastic about some activity, are surprised by the appearance of a Geico logo, and, unamused, they abruptly decide to walk away rather than play further into some perceived joke at their expense.

Frankly, I just don't get it.

The original commercials were based around the premise that the Geico slogan, "So easy a caveman could do it," was insensitive to cavemen, who actually still existed and had mostly adapted to modern society, their one persistent obstacle being the mainstream stereotypes that Geico was helping to perpetuate by suggesting that they were primitives of low intelligence. The scope of the ads then quickly extended beyond the slogan issue, depicting frustrated cavemen trying to go about their lives while facing preconceptions from a variety of sources.

I was not particularly a fan of the original commercials. If anything, the recent motorcycle ad, featuring the music of The Sounds, is the funniest one yet. My problem with the new commercials is that they set the focus back on the "Geico offends cavemen" situation without in any way explaining the original concept from so long ago. The joke is impossible to understand for anyone unfamiliar with the original series. At the same time, if you do remember the old commercials, you might, like me, be confused by the seeming discontinuity.

One of the earliest commercials had a Geico PR rep earnestly apologizing to the cavemen over dinner, which should presumably have brought an end to the "So easy" campaign. So why, years later, have the insensitive billboards suddenly returned? And, that being the case, why do the cavemen seem so submissive now? Did I maybe miss an installment, where perhaps the cavemen were persuaded to whore their image out to Geico, now to their impotent regret?

I'm being silly, I know. But that goddamned Billie Jean King commercial... I just don't get it!


Czardoz said...

Hey, if you had gotten all high and mighty on media dope, and then got a starring gig on a prime-time TV show, only to see that show bomb miserably, you'd be pretty submissive, too.

Czardoz said...

I read that Quincy Jones wanted the song to be called "Not My Lover," lest people think that "Billie Jean" was about Billie Jean King. MJ wouldn't have it, though. The rest is history.