If you judge us by the TV we watch, we drive expensive, foreign automobiles, but we also have a lot of unpronounceable diseases—about which we’re counseled to “tell your doctor.”
We also think auto insurance is hilarious. I think that started with Farmers’ old dude in the suit coat, vest and jeans (“We are Farmers—bum, bum, bum, bum bum bum.”), who brought a grandfatherly forgiveness to the insurance implications of the bull moose attacking your motor home or that time you let your new Outback end up at the bottom of the pond. Soon came Flo, fresh from her role as a telephone operator on “Mad Men.” Flo has put her considerable comedic talents to work creating funny episodes (frequently playing all the characters) designed to make you switch your insurance to Progressive.
Up until Grandad and Flo came along, we had just looked at car insurance as a necessity without which you couldn’t drive. Who knew it was a barrel of laughs?
Geico knew, because they had a winner in the lucky coincidence that Geico kind of rhymes with, or maybe just sort of looks like, “gecko,” which is a kind of small lizard. So immediately they are spending millions having a little cartoon lizard pitch their insurance to us. It obviously works, but it must be on a sort of subliminal, lizard-brain level because who would call up an agent and say they want that policy the little reptile told them about?
Then Progressive decides to give Flo some time off to enjoy the rewards of her ads (Do each of her characters get residuals?) while they go after the motorcycle market. Her temporary replacement is the “motaur,” half man/half motorcycle. You’ve seen him/it, else you wouldn’t believe me. Upper part man: lower part motorcycle. But this is not a funny character. This thing is irascible, as who wouldn’t be if their nether orifice were replaced by an exhaust pipe.
Then Liberty Mutual Insurance got into the game through the realization that their name could play off the iconic statue. So all they had to do was set up a camera with a view of the Statue of Liberty in the background and begin grinding out little vignettes that end with the admonition not to pay more than what you need and the clever jingle “Liberty! Liberty! Liberty! Liberty!”
That wasn’t enough. Somebody in their ad agency had to notice that the diminutive for Liberty Mutual, “LiMu,” rhymes with “emu.” Consequently, a whole new advertising campaign based on this shoddy conjunction has washed over us, spawning the buddy team of a computer-generated emu and an idiot. Each episode pounds home the maxim that molt and dolt are telling you not to pay too much. But they’ve still got the same kicker: “Liberty! Liberty! Liberty! Liberty!” So call your agent.
Well, it’s always a matter of time until politics gets into the game, any game, especially slick advertising. The Republicans’ latest grab for the crotch involves the theory that feminism is driving men to pornography. No kidding. The Republicans are telling us that because we now have to treat women as equals, men are sexually compromised and are driven to pornography and video games. I can see the ads now, featuring a half man/half computer screen. “We are Republicans! Cons! Cons! Cons! Cons! Cons!”
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