Mascots in marketing have existed since the Gerber Baby, Ronald McDonald, Mr. Peanut, and Tony the Tiger.
Insurance company GEICO produced the first mascot, the gecko. He gave him a good British Cockney accent with small cars and big live instruments.
Since then, other insurance companies have jumped on board with their mascots and found a great way to change their brand.
Why Do Insurance Companies Have Mascots?
Today, GEICO’s gecko, Aflac’s duck, and Flo in white—and many more—are the icons of the insurance industry, whose products are incomprehensible to the general public. Therefore, insurance mascots and characters bring brand recognition to consumers with cute white ducks and brown emus, as well as funny skirts and spokes to make their products stand out.
This article will highlight ten famous insurance companies with historical and interesting backgrounds.
What Was The First Mascot Insurance?
Our Little Gecko Was First
Perhaps the most famous, and the game changer that moved the insurance industry from Prudential’s stoic Rock of Gibraltar, is the gecko. Gecko was first launched in 1999.
The ad gurus at the Martin Agency came up with a great idea: 1) Promote the brand name GEICO—Government Employees Insurance Company, 2) promote the correct pronunciation of the company name every time the cute Cockney creeper appears in an ad. . (The company is called “guy-co” not lizard.)
Nalimata came to life on the screen at about the same time that Hollywood filmmakers were preparing for war. The advertising agency knew that successful ads that included animals tended to create a connection between the brand and its customers.
If It Talks Like A Duck..
You may not know the name of the comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who died on April 12, 2022 at the age of 67. in a commercial with a proud white duck.
It became known to marketing executives at the Kaplan Thaler Group in New York City that the insurance company’s name, Aflac—short for American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus—resembles a duck quack.
From its first TV ad 20 years ago to 75 commercials since then, Aflac’s cute duck has made the company instantly recognizable to 9 out of 10 consumers today.
Speaking of Flightless Birds…
The Lumu Emu (and Doug)
Whoever came up with the idea of using a six-foot-tall emu, yellow shirt and retro 1970s human friend, struck gold. The double roar was the theme of the bird, the “Limu Emu” song. Lime is an abbreviation for “Liberty Mutual.” It’s probably the biggest animated animal family since the Energizer Bunny.
Then there’s the idiot, Doug, played by Doug Hoffman, who plays the straight man in one of the funniest commercials on television—all the while posting messages for Liberty Mutual insurance.
… and difficult actors who change their lines
The lead of another Liberty Mutual ad campaign with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop is a fun “complicated” schtick, played by Canadian Tanner Novlan. For the funny stuff, he struggles with the simple line “Liberty Mutual makes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need.”
In a deep, sweet voice that doesn’t really match his young, casual appearance, the actor’s tongue-tied tongue-tie can’t get past mentioning the name of an insurance company – “Bibberty Muchimous…” for example.
So, while we laugh at the small, arrogant speaker, we get the message: “Just pay what you want.” We end up repeating these words in our heads at the end of the commercial.
Allstate’s Mayhem: Slapstick Look at the Bad Things That Happen
Designed to make us rethink our current insurance policies, the Allstate Mayhem campaign features glib, deadpan actor Dean Winters. The player is seen as a physical model and victim in the event of a bad incident, which today’s insurance policies do not always cover.
Winters plays an insecure Christmas tree, a distracted driver using make-up (with sidekick Tina Fey as the victim), and a backdoor puppy, who bullies insurance victims. Each ad includes warnings about “cutting” insurance and targets older, responsible drivers and homeowners.
The Mayhem campaign has its own Facebook page with nearly 2 million followers. So, it should work fine for Allstate.
Speaking of Mayhem, Jake from State Farm Must Act Fast
This 30-second gem begins with a man talking on the phone in the middle of the night: “Yes, I’m married. Does it matter? Can you do that for me? Really? I want that.”
Jake’s angry wife comes downstairs and asks, “Who are you talking to?
“It’s Jake from State Farm.”
3 o’clock in the morning a woman doesn’t buy that. He picks up the phone, and the rest are jokes that prove he’s Jake from State Farm and is on duty 24/7.
The guy who played State Farm’s insurance agent wasn’t a tough guy. He was played by Jake Stone, a State Farm employee. Jake became State Farm’s personal mascot with a prominent presence on their website and Twitter profile.
Speaking of Strong Women, Who Doesn’t Love Flo From Progressive?
Actress/comedian Stephanie Courtney has been portraying Flo on Progressive Insurance since 2014.
Flo is a white-collar salesperson for Progress Insurance and has appeared in over 100 commercials featuring a variety of comedy, skits, and silly friends. Stephanie has pulled double duty playing her abusive sister and mother in a commercial that pushes Progressive Insurance products.
…And there is another man who works with Flo, Jamie.
As Flo’s right-hand man, Jamie brings a different sense of humor to Progressive’s commercials. He is the personification of the quip, “He is a legend in his own mind.”
Both Flo and Jamie earned millions in paychecks and endorsements as Progressive mascots.
JK Simmons Adds Group to Farmers Insurance
Most of us recognize the snappy Farms jingle, “We’re the faraway people…” Just like we know the famous insurance company spokesperson, JK Simmons.
The name may not be instantly recognizable, but JK Simmons is one of the most famous and successful players anyone has ever seen. He has been around since 1986 and has appeared in over 200 film and television episodes, winning Golden Globe and Academy awards.
Simmons, who creates a lot of information about the Farmers brand, always ends his sales with the insurance company’s slogan, “At Farmers, we know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.”
NFL Stars Become Insurance Brokers
Peyton Manning Worldwide
The world hired former Broncos Peyton Manning, with his honest and kind heart. Manning’s funny lyrics to Nationwide’s song “Nationwide is on your side” instead of “Chicken parm tastes great.” The commercial does a good job of printing Nationwide’s slogan and jingle.
USAA Showcased Rob Gronkowski
USAA provides competitive, home, and auto insurance for military personnel, veterans, and their family members. NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski never served in the military, but was hired as a mascot for USAA.
One of USAA’s salespeople Gronkowski talks on the phone with Stephanie, USAA’s best and most helpful agent. Gronk wants to get “up to 30 percent off my car insurance,” but he has to hide the fact that he has never served in the military.
Stephanie said: “I can help you with this.”
Gronkowski, panicking, quickly looks at his football jersey and says “87.”
No, Stephanie said politely, “It should be between five and 12 numbers.”
Frustrated, Gronk has to admit he’s not a member. The sponsor says that because they only serve military personnel and their families, that’s what makes USAA special.
“Oh, but I’m special!” complains Gronkowski.
The ad ends with a classic smile and frustration from Stephanie, who lets Gronk’s stupid comment stand on its own merits.
Shaquille O’Neal Plays Big Brother for General Insurance Commerce
The General Insurance Commercial begins with a birthday wish for a child: “I wish Shaq was my real brother.”
To the cheery tune of “People let me tell you about my best friend,” Shaq shows up and chases the youngster through the rest of the commercials and teenage jokes.
So Shaq shills for the General and admits it personally. Shaq says, “It seems that some wishes do come true. And it turns out that the General Insurance Company has been saving people money for almost 60 years.”
Shaq will continue to be popular with the advertising company. His current gig features his mother, Lucille O’Neal, a contestant on the game, as she answers questions before being asked. Shaq makes his cameo with “It turns out, mom’s always right,” and his General Insurance plug. Both ads fade to a General Insurance block with a giant military mascot.
From Aflac’s two-foot-tall duck to the seven-foot-tall Shaq, insurance companies have included, informed, and, yes, encouraged us to look at their services. Who would have thought that something as complicated as insurance – which is betting on yourself that something bad will happen – could be so much fun?
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