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Geico’s “False Bonding”

April 21st, 2008 by Bob Bly

“False bonding” refers to advertising that seeks to create a bond with the prospect, but does so in an illogical or insincere — and therefore ineffective — way.

A good example is the recent radio spot for Geico offering homeowner’s insurance to people who rent.

It begins (and I am paraphrasing): “We think renters are cool! Why? Maybe it’s all that cool stuff you own….”

The copy then suggests you need to insure your cool possessions with a Geico homeowner policy even if you rent instead of own.

The insincere notion is that “We think renters are cool!” The illogical notion is that renters own stuff that’s cooler than what homeowners own.

Think of the differences between renters and owners. There are many. But does the word “cool” pop into your mind? I didn’t think so.

And it’s stupid to say renters are cool because they own “cool stuff.” They mostly own the same stuff that homeowners do. What renter-specific possession is “cool”?

I would have taken a different tact: “As a renter, you own a lot of valuable stuff. But if it’s stolen or destroyed, who would pay for it? Not your landlord! That’s why you as a tenant need ‘renter’s insurance’ just like homeowners need ‘homeowner’s insurance.'”

Geico’s “cool renters” radio spot is yet another example of how advertising built around an incorrect premise is doomed to fall flat.


This entry was posted on Monday, April 21st, 2008 at 2:33 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

107 responses about “Geico’s “False Bonding””

  1. SpongeBob Fan said:

    Well, many renters are younger and – you know – I think they do have more “cool” stuff. (A friend of mine, a renter, was the first one on the block with a DVD player and lots of DVDs. Which were all stolen a couple of years later when he had a break-in! Not that insurance would have probably covered that loss!)

    That’s the advantage/problem with being 40+ … I’ll speak for myself — I could care less about cool. Used to care, not any more. I have more “stuff” than I can deal with … now something has to be a LOT more than just “brand-new” to get my attention.

  2. Brian said:

    OK, first of all this comes from an organization whose spokesbeing is a gecko. You want logic?

    Second, I think your “fall flat” prediction will be right but for a different reason. Renters do have cool stuff, which is why they are renters. They overspend for stuff and don’t save. It is this short-sighted thinking that would also lead them to take a pass on any voluntary insurance.

  3. Graham Strong said:

    I was just about to write what Brian wrote. However, what definitely holds true of my generation when I was renting may not hold true for today’s Generation Y (or Z, or A2, or wherever we are at…) Perhaps they do look to the future more than we did?

    One hopes that Geico did their homework on this one. But there is one thing that is for sure — *I* was a lot cooler when I rented…


  4. Peter George said:

    Your premise, Bob, that GEICO is being insincere has to be dead on. It is illogical to believe that the company thinks renters are cool. But then again, how different is that from “Yes, honey, you DO look great in that dress.”? The insincerity may be there, but then again, it is the resulting bond that matters.

  5. Ken Norkin, Freelance Copywriter said:

    Geico is on the mark in saying that renters are cool. The younger members of the so-called “creative class” that many cities are trying to lure are renters. As renters, they’re more likely to move for good — and cool — jobs than are homeowners. As Richard Florida, whose career is pretty much all about the creative class, writes on his blog: “(ownership) is a significant institutional impediment to the flexibility, adjustment and mobility the creative economy requires. NYC and London will derive even greater benefits over time from high rates of renters.” Of course, a radio spot trying to sell renter’s insurance isn’t the place to expound on the significance of the creative class. So the point gets boiled down to “renters are cool and they own cool stuff” — which they’re able to afford because they haven’t yet made themselves house poor with a mortgage and they’re not yet spending their disposable income on kids. This spot is playing to the affluent renters who are intelligent enough to understand the message that their cool stuff needs protecting. Sure, Bob’s rewrite makes the same point. But not with the creative personality that has become central to Geico’s brand.

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  7. Beth said:

    When renters call Geico for renters insurance, they are actually referred to Travellers.

    It’s still unclear how much of a cut Geico gets from policies established with Travellers as a result.

  8. Boucher said:

    GEICO could not care less about their customes or other consumers. Texas has a Consumer Bill of Rights for Auto Insurance which states “An insurance company may not specify the brand, type, kind, age, vendor, supplier, or condition of parts or products used to repair your automobile”. David Halley, a supervisor with Geico in Texas, stated “We don’t specify what parts you can use to repair your auto, we just don’t have to pay for any parts except what we specify”. What a ripoff!!! If their rates are cheaper, I guess its because you get what you pay for.

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