BY PAUL MANCANO – Geico commercials have brought us so many laughs over the years. From the caveman bit that went on for way too long (and ended up as a gruesome can’t-look-away car crash spinoff) to the suave guy in a suit making absurd comparisons to car insurance policies (but who cares, they were hilarious) to the “HUMP DAYYYY” camel that inspired the Michael Scotts of the world to yell, well, “HUMP DAYYYY,” in the office every Wednesday.
Recently, however, the Martin Agency, Geico’s advertising agency, has failed to dazzle me. My disillusionment is spurred mostly by the focal shift back to the Gecko himself, who, honestly, sucks. He’s not funny and the accent does not make him seem smarter/cuter/appealing in any way. Ironically, Geico’s mascot is a worse representative than almost every other character they’ve thrown our way.
Like it or not, the Gecko is here until Martin J. Martin and his pals (I made up that name, but it’s probably his real name) can come up with anything cleverer, which shouldn’t be hard. Unfortunately, the latest target of the Gecko’s failed attempt at humor is Philadelphia.
Seen this yet?
The “Cheesesteak Shuffle.”
Yeah. That actually ran on television.
It’s pretty clear Martin J. Martin has a great grasp of what the city of Philadelphia is all about. It appears as if he’s only been within the city limits for about three days total, during which he ate to Pat’s/Geno’s, rode on the Zoo balloon, and watched a homeless man urinate in a corner of Suburban Station. So during the business meeting in which Martin and his band of merry men devised this disgrace, the answer to the question “What do we know about Philly?” went something like this:
Bald Businessman: “…uh…well…they’re the city of Brotherly Love!”
*murmers of agreement*
Skinny Businessman: “and…uh…Will Smith’s character in that ’90s show was born and raised there! What’s that show?”
Whitest guy in the room: “The Fresh Prince!””
*louder murmers of agreement*
Tubby, sweating businessman: “Oh, and they make good cheesesteaks!”
Martin J. Martin: “Great! Well, now that that’s done, let’s go to lunch!”
*the place is in an uproar of applause and mustached businessmen clapping each other on the back*
I know I’m just being a typical bitter Philadelphian here, but frankly, this ad insults our collective intelligence. What guy in Fishtown is sitting on his couch watching this ad going, “A dance about cheesesteaks?! Hahaha, oh boy, that Gecko sure understands this city!!”
But of course, the ad is not directed at Philadelphians. It’s directed at the rest of the dumbasses of the world who associate the city with cheesesteaks and Fresh Prince (just another example of pandering to the lowest common denominator. I’ll save that Antler Rant for another day).
But then again, why even do these major market-based ads? They’ve already done one in New York. That one didn’t appeal to me, and I’m (obviously) not from New York. It just looks like pandering. To go even further into the rabbit hole, do these ads test well anywhere? They’re an even bigger waste of money than the Gerber College Plan ads that have been going nonstop for about six years. Or the ESPN Buzzer Beater channel.
There’s a slight chance that the commercial is to be taken sarcastically, as if to mockingly point fun at the fact that the Gecko knows nothing about Philly. Perhaps the people in the background approaching the Gecko and pointing at him are supposed to be aware of this fact. However, it’s far more likely that they are just pointing out the ridiculousness of the song itself in a “HEY WORLD LOOK HOW GOOFY AND FUN WE ARE”-type joke. I mean, just look at the hashtag: #CheeseSteakShuffle. Martin really thinks this song is gonna take the city by storm.
For an equaling saddening but slightly funny Philly-based commercial, check out this one: