My favourite ads of the decade, number 5: Geico Unskippable.

Way back in 2015 I was briefing a few teams on iPad. Some of the work was due to run on preroll, so I brought up the fact that we all hate that media space with a passion, smashing the ‘Skip Ad’ button like an epileptic woodpecker until the offending crap leaves our screens.

I had no idea what the solution might look like, but to me it seemed essential that the first few seconds should grab the viewer’s attention with enough power to divert them from the ‘Skip’ button.

During the development process the perfect answer arrived, but it wasn’t from one of my teams; it was from The Martin Agency on behalf of their insurance client, Geico. (To be honest, the whole Geico campaign is probably worth a ‘best of the decade’ mention. It’s consistently some of the best stuff that runs properly on TV over here.):

I concede that they didn’t manage to maintain the level of humour through all three executions (funny how hard it is to do that. From the outside it looks like it would be easy to come up with another 10/10 hilarious one of these, but like Economist lines, further classics are much harder to come by than it might appear. In fact, kudos to the team for coming up with a campaign idea that seems like it would be easy to continue) but the reason I love these so much is partly the ads themselves, but to a greater extent it’s the genius of turning something so hated into something so loved.

99.9999% of preroll is both dreadful and loathed. If I gave you the brief to make it so loved and memorable that you would look forward to it, laugh out loud at it and share it, I think you might consider that to be a tall order. But that’s what Team Unskippable did. And not only was it all those good things, the spots were fully branded and actually worked really well:

Geico Senior Marketing Director Amy Furman said the ads have clocked more than 14 million views, and clearly got people to check out Geico. “The campaign ran during some record-level mobile and online quote time frames, and I think that can be attributed back to the campaign,” she said. Moreover, “there was a huge amount of sharing, not the kind we always get when repurposing our TV ads.”

So that’s why they earn their spot on this list: they’re clever, funny, effective and original, but they were also able to turn a blast of diarrhea into vintage Krug, a feat I have yet to see emulated.