Creative Roundtable: Chillin' With the Cavemen

Geico extends its TV campaign to the Web

The cavemen from Geico’s television commercials are throwing a party at their place, and we're all invited. The address:

Launched in January, the Flash site allows visitors to poke around the cavemen’s cool, modern apartment, toying with their possessions. You can play songs from an iPod playlist, listen to messages for the guys on their answering machine, thumb through one of their magazines and rearrange their fridge magnets, among other things.

One of the cranky cavemen pops up intermittently to make wisecracks. Not quite ready to entertain his guests, he appears in his bathrobe when you enter the site — telling you he’s going to be in the shower “a while” — and scolds you for being punctual. “Right on time. It’s a party, not a dentist appointment,” he cracks, before telling you to make yourself at home.

Built in-house at Geico, aims to give fans of the cavemen some insight into their lives, says Phil Ovuka, director of creative media services at Geico. He adds that the goal is to entertain, as opposed to merely push Geico insurance.

“We do have connections back to,” Ovuka points out. For example, Geico ads play on the cavemen’s TV when users click on it. “It wouldn’t make sense to put something out there that didn’t also give people an opportunity to contact our site, but that’s not as important as giving people a greater glimpse into the caveman’s life.”

The caveman characters featured in the Geico TV commercials created by The Martin Agency have become a pop culture phenomenon. Geico receives fan mail for the cavemen, people dress up like them for Halloween, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard that they will be featured in a pilot for ABC that could be picked up as a series. “That, right there, says how fanatical the interest is,” Ovuka notes.

As of late March, close to 1.2 million visitors had chilled at, Ovuka reports.

Rather than launch a major campaign to drive traffic to the site, Geico took a viral approach, relying simply on word of mouth generated by company associates and bloggers. While Ovuka says the cavemen have a rather wide fan base, ranging from kids to grannies, the site is aimed primarily at people in their twenties and thirties.

Originally, Cavemanscrib was intended to remain live for approximately a year, but the site might come down this summer, according to Ovuka, who says it all depends on what happens with the pilot.

So are the cavemen’s digs worth visiting? OMMA snooped around with a trio of digital creatives — G2 Interactive’s Bob Lukasik, Glen Sheehan of T3 and Graham Turner from BrandBuzz, a unit of Y&R — to find out. 

OMMA: Welcome to the crib. Are you a fan of the cavemen from the Geico commercials?

Turner: [Laughing] I don’t particularly care about these guys. Their attitude gets a bit annoying. I know they’re angry at the guy [in the commercial] who says, ‘So easy a caveman can do it,’ but they’re mean to everybody.

OMMA: After looking through the site, what were your overall impressions?

Lukasik: My expectations were high. I knew this was going to be a cool, immersive kind of experience, but the content that was revealed was kind of flat. There didn’t seem to be enough variety to round it out, and I also thought it was too reliant on visitors reading things.

Sheehan: I love that you can get into the texture of their lives right down to the magazines they read. I wanted to spend more time on the TV, but the caveman took the remote away from me

Turner: It’s a fun romp through a doll’s house essentially. There are some nice layers you can dip into and play with, but I think that the toys themselves are not so cutting-edge that you’re that wowed by it. You’re basically playing around their house, and it’s a fun little visit where a caveman shouts at you a few times, and you can dress him up — I don’t particularly find dressing dolls that playful. I’m too old.

OMMA: Is the navigation clear enough for the average user?

Lukasik: It was very easy for me to understand immediately what I needed to do. I thought the use of caveman prompts saying, “There are magazines on the table,” or “You know I’m in the bathroom,” directing users where to go was good. Then once you start mousing around, you get little hot-spot animations, and it becomes pretty clear.

OMMA: Does this site achieve its objective of letting fans of the cavemen learn new things about them?

Sheehan: I think so. You get more familiar with them and feel a little closer to them. One of the times I visited the site, I was co-browsing with a friend who was on instant messenger in California, and we were talking about the magazine and some of the other nice touches — the books you pull off the shelf have got [one of the caveman’s] notations in them, and they tell you more about his personality.

OMMA: This site is not a hard-sell in terms of directing visitors to Would you have wanted to get more prompts in here pushing people to the company site?

Lukasik: No, I actually think they took the right approach with it, because what they’re trying to do is dimensionalize the cavemen, give you a glimpse into their lives. To have it be over the top, with sell messages for Geico, would have detracted from that.

OMMA: Is there anything missing from this site?

Lukasik: What might have been fun, even though it is perhaps a little cheesy, are some other things that the cavemen themselves might have done, like home movies or a photo scrapbook. Something that gives you an even deeper glimpse into their lives. As a user, I was looking for stuff like that.

Turner: I was a little bit at a loss as to what the heck to do with this other than to enjoy these guys, which a lot of people clearly do on the TV spots and now probably a darn series, too.

Sheehan: I think there’s room for more [content on the site], but I also suspect there are some things in there that I didn’t find because of my behavior, so that becomes part of the game. But, overall, I think they did a great job taking us into the lives of the cavemen.

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