Marketing Moments: Creating Kash, Creating Culture
The American Enterprise team has been working with the creative minds at The Martin Agency, the award-winning advertising firm in Richmond, VA, to understand how contemporary advertising works. We asked several of them to blog about what they do and how they are changing the contemporary marketplace through advertising. In this post, Mike Lear tells the story behind Kash, one of GEICO’s most popular advertising mascots.
– Kathleen Franz, American Enterprise curatorial team
It was the summer of 2008 and my partner Sissy Estes and I were working on new ideas for our client, GEICO. Very early into it we felt the most motivating factor in getting someone to switch his or her car insurance was cold hard cash. We thought if we could bring to life the savings incentive…we might be on to something. But how do we make that interesting?
We came up with Kash – the stack of money with the googly eyes. He was a stack of $5 bills ($500 being the average amount of savings) that appeared, usually out of nowhere, and stared at you, coaxing you to call GEICO.
As we prepared our presentation for GEICO, Sissy and I started to talk about other details of the campaign. Should he talk? No. Too cheesy. Should he sing? Nah. But what about music? The right song that played when he appeared could be great and make the idea a bit more dynamic. We decided to recommend a modern remake of Cameo’s “Somebody’s Watching me.”
We presented several campaigns, but Kash was the winner. Ted Ward, who runs the advertising department at GEICO, warmed up to the idea quickly and saw the simplicity as a success.
Here’s a script from that meeting.
We had to get the character just right. So we hired Stan Winston, one of the finest model makers in the world to explore options for Kash and landed on the character you know today.
As we entered into production that fall, the economy took a turn for the worse. Now, I wish we could say we saw it coming and that’s why we created this icon. And maybe Ted did, but I can tell you I sure didn’t. When the campaign broke, Kash had hit the sweet spot of simplicity and strategy in an uncertain economy. It seemed that money was on everyone’s mind, and Kash served as the perfect reminder for savings.
The music ended up being a major component of the work. We hired Mysto and Pizzi, through Agent Jackon – two up and coming producers, from Queens, New York. Their video for the track, featuring Kash has over 4.5 million views:
And the track is still offered free on Geico.com.
We’re also proud of how Kash became part of modern culture. People dressed up as Kash for Halloween and shaped their birthday cakes in his likeness.
Kash appeared in skits on David Letterman, The Colbert Report and The Tonight Show and was even mentioned in an episode of 30 Rock along with all the stars of GEICO’s advertising.
GEICO continues to create advertising that people enjoy and want to be part of. Much of their latest work can be seen here.