45. GEICO's TV Lizard

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Nowadays, GEICO is a well-known insurance company. For many years, however, it was unnoticed. Other companies, like Allstate and Farmers, were more popular. Then GEICO tried something different; it got a new ad agency.

The owner of the agency, Billy Ray Childers, was from Virginia. Years ago, he had tried to start his own agency in Manhattan. But when New Yorkers heard his southern accent, they gave him the cold shoulder. Angry, Billy Ray returned to Virginia. Someday, he hoped to teach those New Yorkers a lesson.

He set up his new ad agency in Raleigh. Then he called up GEICO headquarters in New York. He told them that they could improve their sales if they used a gecko to advertise GEICO. They balked at first, but then approved his ad campaign. In the new commercial, the animated lizard said, "I'm a gecko, not a GEICO." GEICO was originally going to do one TV commercial with the bright green lizard, and then retire it. But viewers, especially women, fell in love with the cute gecko. So GEICO decided to do a few more commercials. And then a few more.

The clever lizard with the British accent is now eight years old and stars in a new commercial every several months. It has made GEICO famous - almost as famous as the gecko itself!


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