US' Most Creative Partnerships: GEICO & The Martin Agency

June 22, 2016

For more than 20 years, Geico has been saying: "Fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance." The message has become so well known that the insurance company turned its pitch into a punchline in its own ads.

It launched its "Did you know" ad series in 2013 after identifying a 93% recall of the "15%" positioning. The ads start with a person reciting the line, prompting a dismissive "Everyone knows that" response. This leads the first person to retort with a (usually invented) "fact" of their own.  

"We’re the only ones who can question our own tagline," says Wade Alger, senior vice-president and group creative director at The Martin Agency, which won the account in 1994. 

It’s a privileged position for a brand that has been able to saturate the market with a hefty media budget and a steadfast commitment to its formula for success: humour with an unwavering strategy and easily repeatable story structure. 

"The media budget (some years, up to $1bn) gives the freedom, and need, to run several narratives at once"

"We describe our approach as ‘relentlessly consistent’," says Ted Ward, vice-president of marketing at Geico. More than two decades of the memorable ads have moved it from eighth to number two in its category. 

"The 15/15 promise has been our anchor," says Steve Bassett, senior vice-president and group creative  director at The Martin Agency. The media budget (some years, up to $1bn) gives the freedom, and need, to run several narratives at once. 

The brand’s cast of characters has included an affable animated gecko (the solution to a 1999 actors’ strike), the "Hump Day" camel and even celebrities such as Little Richard and Joan Rivers, cast to comically translate real customers’ testimonials. "Geico advertising has always been a little self-aware," Bassett says. 

The brand’s "Unskippable" take on pre-roll ads was one of the most-awarded campaigns of 2015. Geico’s message appears in the first five seconds, before the "skip ad" prompt, then characters freeze as the action continues around them. "You can’t skip this Geico ad because it’s already over," the voiceover says. The ad that won the Grand Prix in Film at Cannes "freezes" a family at dinner – except a dog, which jumps up and gobbles their food.

"It’s really understanding how people view advertising," Bassett says. "People aren’t waiting or dying to see the next Geico ad, but it’s become one of the most shareable brands."

The comedy is different in each ad series, but, Alger says, "It can’t be weird for weird’s sake." 

"Geico has permission to seamlessly split into a new campaign as long as it’s anchored by 15/15 and the humour’s interesting," Bassett explains. "[It’s] not really changing direction, just taking the same information and re-presenting in a fresh way that is going to surprise and hopefully get you talking."

The strategy has worked well: Geico has been the fastest-growing insurance company in the US for more than ten years. 

Ted Ward 

Vice-president, marketing, Geico

The people [at] both The Martin Agency and here at Geico are in it for the long haul. I’ve been at Geico 32 years. I hired them [more than] 22 years ago. And over those years, most of the critical pieces and parts have stayed in place. The current head of the agency, Matt Williams, was our very first account executive. One of the key people on my side who works with the Martin folks has been with Geico 32 years. So, there’s consistency in both people and approach. 

Wade Alger

Senior vice-president and group creative director, The Martin Agency 

It really is a partnership. Everyone is valued and their opinions count. That’s what makes the work better. No one has a giant ego in the room, everyone can be very humbled and it really is like a giant round table where we’re all equals. Ted will, obviously, make the final decision, but when you walk into a room with that sort of mentality or that amount of confidence in your partner, it really helps the work get better.

Steve Bassett

Senior vice-president and group creative director, The Martin Agency 

There’s not a revolving door as far as the CMO goes, which is great, and the people above him have been there since the beginning. I’ve been on shoots with clients where there’s a feeling of fear or "them versus us"; on a Geico shoot there is no fear. We’re all in it to make the best spot we can. A lot of the good edits and ideas come from the client. Everybody knows where the "North Star" is. A lot of that has to do with Ted. I can’t give the Geico team enough credit.

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Posted By: The Martin Agency

Stoli #DrinkWhatYouWant on Adweek

June 20, 2016

New Stoli Campaign Aims to Break the Stigma Against Men Who Enjoy Fruity Cocktails

The Martin Agency's ads tell guys to drink what they want

Katie Richards | Adweek | June 20, 2016

It's a tough life for macho men out there who want to enjoy a nice fruity cocktail on a Friday night, but don't want to be seen holding said pink beverage amongst friends. Stoli's latest campaign, a movement you might say, hopes to break millennial men from these chains and let them know it's OK to drink whatever the hell they want.

After speaking to bartenders across the country and conducting a survey, the vodka brand found that while young men enjoy flavored cocktails, they typically opt for a beer or whisky instead. According to the survey, which polled 1,475 men over the age of 21, 73 percent of millennial men enjoy flavored cocktails, but 63 percent will avoid ordering them in public out of fear that friends will make fun of them for it. 

The "Drink What You Want" campaign, created by The Martin Agency, hopes to break the stigma against men who enjoy fruity beverages. It includes a larger anthem spot and three shorter videos, which focus on individual products, featuring three different cocktails made with different Stoli flavors.

Continue to Adweek.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

An Ode To The Cobblestone

June 17, 2016

We need an award for the people who pave the way to Cannes

What a statement it would be if we recognised the unsung heroes of our industry, says The Martin Agency's chief creative officer.


Here’s to the cobblestones. 

The unsung heroes.

The ones who pave the way to great work and never get listed in the credits.

The teammates we sometimes step all over and take for granted. 

The noisy ones who warn us when a truck is about to run us over.

The rocks of the agency.

About 10 years ago, the late Mike Hughes had an idea, probably as he was walking to lunch over the cobblestones that pave the streets around The Martin Agency headquarters in Richmond.

What if we created an award for the people who pave the way to award-winning work?

Not just the fighter pilots, but the crew on the ground.

The Cobblestone Award was born. 

They’ve gone to the project manager who kept an FWA-worthy site and tablet version from going off the rails. 

The art buyer who discovered an illustrator that brought an idea to another level.

The UX planner whose insight turned the light bulb on, resulting in a Grand Prix.

The developer who figured out a way to make the nav even more magical than before.

The producer who got an extra half-day of shooting for nothing.

The technologist who built a 3D printed prototype that convinced the CMO to green light a project.

The account person who took the nervous call from the client and somehow talked them off the ledge.

The controller who kept our revenue number looking good all year long.

The operations guy who built a prop for a new biz pitch the client still raves about. 

The IT dude who took the panicked call from the CD in London and helped him download a huge file from the server just in time for a presentation.

Since 2006, we’ve given out just a few cobblestones every year and it’s become a coveted badge of honour to the winners and a symbol of our agency motto: Good and Tough. Good to each other, tough on the work. 

Yes, a few creatives have won them, too. 

But the Cobblestones are truly for the people who aren’t eligible for Pencils, Lions and Cubes. (We have enough of those award shows, don't we?)

Maybe it’s time we had an award show for the people who pave the road to Cannes. What a statement to the whole industry that would be. 

Mike, I think you’re onto something – as usual, way ahead of all of us. 


Joe Alexander is CCO of The Martin Agency in Richmond, London and New York and the President of the 2016 Cannes Film Jury.

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Posted By: The Martin Agency

London ECD Daniel Fisher's Tips for Cannes

June 13, 2016

Martin Agency's Daniel Fisher: My Top Tips for Cannes

Daniel Fisher is ECD of The Martin Agency in London. Fisher was formerly deputy ECD at adam&eveDDB where he worked on, among others, John Lewis’ ‘Monty the Penguin’ and its big 2014 Cannes award winner Harvey Nichols’ ‘Sorry I Spent it On Myself.’
Prior to adam&eve he worked at CHI&Partners, Leo Burnett and WCRS, acquiring a groaning shelf of awards in the process.

My Top Tips for Cannes
Like most people in the industry, I have a long standing love-hate relationship with Cannes. But for all the bad things people like to say about it, for me it has one giant redeeming quality that allows you to forget all the excess and the bluster and the sight of sunburnt middle aged ad execs going for the Grand Prix on the steps of the Palais. And that is that it celebrates what we do – creativity – in a way that no other awards show can come close to.
So what are my picks for this year?

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Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin Agency Wins Onefie for Creffectiveness

June 07, 2016

The Martin Agency has won the very first Onefie award for Creffectiveness by winning the One Show 2016 Agency of the Year and the Effie Gold for Sustained Success.

“We have always prided ourselves on creating work that is not only incredibly creative but also incredibly effective. We call that Creffectiveness,” said Joe Alexander, chief creative officer of The Martin Agency.

The agency has been recognized for multiple awards recently. Not only winning Agency of the Year at the One Show, but also winning the inaugural Penta Pencil, an award given to an agency-brand team who, together, have created stellar work for five or more continuous years. In addition, GEICO was named Client of the Year.

The Effie Gold for Sustained Success, given for products or service communications efforts that have experienced sustained success for three or more years, was also awarded for Martin’s relationship with GEICO.

Over the last 22 years The Martin Agency has helped GEICO move from a distant 8th-place market share position in the car insurance category to 2nd. They have been the fastest-growing insurance company for the last 11 years and during that time, have solidified their brand position as a category leader.

To create the Onefie award, a team of engineers and technologists was tasked to go to a hardware store and get some duct tape. They then taped the two awards together, officially creating the world’s first Onefie award.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

New Ritz "Life's Rich" TV Featured on MediaPost

June 06, 2016

Ritz crackers is debuting new creative for its “Life’s Rich” campaign, starting with a TV spot that will begin airing tonight, Lauren Sella, director, NA Ritz equity, tells Marketing Daily.

“Life’s Rich,” from The Martin Agency, was Ritz’s first new campaign in eight years when it launched in April 2015. 

Link to full article.

Posted By: The Martin Agency