Geico’s Viral Sensation

By: Ben Okun

As the year slowly comes to a close, many “Best/Worst of 2013” lists will surface. Unruly Media, a video technology company, recently released a list of the most viral ads of 2013. The list was not measured by how many views each ad received, but was measured by how many times it was shared online via Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Dove’s, “Real Beauty Sketches” got the top honor with 4.24 million shares, but it was Geico’s, “Hump Day,” which came in second and finished with 4.03 million shares, that employed interesting and effective branding techniques in their ad. Just to remind everyone, the ad we’re talking about features an excited camel strolling through an office, asking all the depressed employees what day it is.  The commercial ends by one guy asking, “How happy would someone be by saving hundreds of dollars on their car insurance by switching to Geico?” The other responds, “Happier than a camel on Wednesday.”

Geico’s brand has largely been built around marketing campaigns both on TV and online. This “Hump Day” ad is no different and is Geico’s most viral commercial to date. Here are three reasons why this commercial is so successful and has reached immense popularity among the social media community.  

1. Emotional Appeal

Humor is a great way to grab someone’s attention and Geico uses humor flawlessly in this ad. During a rough workweek, everyone has a similar feeling on Wednesday; we’re half way there! This ad is very relevant to the lives of those in corporate America and appeals directly to their emotions, enabling them to identify with either of the characters. If you’re having a miserable day, you relate to the grumpy employees and if you’re having a terrific day, you relate to the jolly camel. At the very least, the ad makes light of an otherwise stressful situation. Just imagine a talking camel taking a stroll through your office. Although it’s a ridiculous concept, it’s something that when put in context, is both funny and relevant to the lives of many people, regardless of which character appeals to you on that specific day. Humor is a positive emotion that people generally seek out, which is why many brands integrate this emotion into their advertisements.

2. Familiarity 

Successful brands are immediately recognizable. You shouldn’t have to think twice about a brand and should instantly know what it stands for. There is a sense of familiarity in which the viewer has certain expectations that they believe will be met by the brand. Geico has a history of using comedy, particularly talking animals and creatures, which has distinguished it from many other brands. Look no further than the series of caveman commercials, “Geico, so easy a caveman can do it,” and the talking Gecko that appears in many of their ads. While other brands have used talking animals, these are both staples of Geico’s brand. Enter the talking camel. While viewers may not have known instantly what the camel stood for, by the end of the commercial, the camel fit right in with the rest of Geico’s brand. This familiarity is comforting to viewers and only builds upon Geico’s popular brand.

3. Daily Trigger

The last, perhaps overlooked, reason why the Hump Day commercial has been so successful is because of its day related trigger. It is important to remain relevant when building a brand and what better way than to make a commercial focused on a day of the week? Every Wednesday triggers an image of a talking camel walking around an office. Since this is a weekly occurrence, there’s really no getting rid of this commercial, as the daily trigger will always keep it relevant. A report from Business Insider notes that 67% of the ad’s shares fell on Wednesday and that every seven days saw a major spike in the shares. This is not surprising and is part of a very effective ad campaign that keeps Geico’s brand on the forefront of peoples’ minds. People are always looking for ways to share how they are feeling and Geico strategically integrated a daily trigger to remind people to be social.

Geico’s “Hump Day” commercial was an internet sensation this year and for good reason. It was funny, familiar and naturally fostered sharing, through a built-in trigger.

What are your thoughts on this commercial? Are there any other factors that contributed to its success?

As always, I welcome any and all comments and if you like something, be social and share!


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