The University Network

Is that Ice-T? No, it’s advertainment (and Ice-T)

I was at a bar with some friends a few weeks back. College football fans packed the place. Three beers into the night, I hear two guys having a conversation a few tables down. They were talking about the new Geico commercial that featured rapper Ice-T. The commercial which I enjoyed too, showed people going up to a lemonade stand and asking “Is that Ice-T?” The children running the lemonade stand respond with “Nope, lemonade.” This goes on with a few people. Then, after a woman asks the same question the last few people had asked, the camera pans to the rapper/actor, and he says “What’s wrong with these people, man? It’s lemonade. Read the sign, lemonade.” Finally the narrator sweeps in to tie everything together by saying “Ice-T at a lemonade stand? Surprising. What’s not surprising? How much money Marin saved by switching to GEICO.”

This thirty second auto insurance commercial was now the topic of conversation at a college bar in Queens. I was shocked. People talking about commercials when they’re out with their friends at a bar? These guys must be crazy. But then I started thinking about all the different ads that GEICO has had over the years. There’s the hump day commercial, the Marco Polo commercial, and probably the most famous of all, the caveman commercials. This form of advertising combines advertising and entertainment. Commercials have been increasingly more geared towards entertaining than informing. Let’s face it – when Jamie Foxx appears on your TV screen talking about data plans, you’re going to listen. But simply having a celebrity in a commercial doesn’t make it entertaining. I dare you to find a video of that Verizon Jamie Foxx where the like bar doesn’t look like a used-up cigarette because of all the dislikes. While I may not always agree with the idea of advertainment, I can acknowledge a successful ad campaign like the many that GEICO has had. This form of marketing is meant to build a brand, or make your brand seem fun and interesting. And when you see someone drinking an Arnold Palmer you can scream out “is that iced tea?” which they can reply “and lemonade!”