Last night while watching TV I was surprised to see those cute cuddly Xtranormal bears er..dogs from the iPhone 4 viral video made popular on YouTube. Instead of debating the merits of Apple this time they were promoting Geico. It was really a duh moment. What a clever, easy way to capture people's attention and automatically tap into something that was culturally relevant. This worked for a couple of reasons.
1. Geico isn't afraid to try someting new.
2. Geico knows at the end of the day people want to be entertained whether it is a talking lizard or a pig with pinwheels.
3. Geico puts the customer first and then cleverly weaves in their message. If people love these little robotic cartoon characters, then let's give them the little robotic cartoon characters.
On a side note, later that night a commercial for CarFax appeared along with an animal mascot - Car Fox. It reminded me of the simple play off of Geico / Gecko, but this didn't work at all. The Fox looked stiff like he was clearly a puppet, had little personality, and evoked no emotion from me. Point being, you can't just throw an animal in your ad and call it a day.
Back to Geico, social media is a great place for marketers to get a pulse on what's making people smile these days. What crazy video has gone viral, what games have errupted across Facebook, what topics are trending on Twitter? If you are smart and use this to your advantage, you can be relevant very quickly to a mass audience. You just have to have the courage to try and the willingness to listen.