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Sometimes marketing gimmicks work, and sometimes they don’t. Quite often what separates the winners from the losers is a combination of the program’s goals, the brand (and the image it wants to project) and the target audience. This month I look at a marketing gimmick that, in my opinion, missed the mark.


I couldn’t resist the gecko

A while back I received an oversized postcard from my college alumni association informing me that I can save on auto insurance at Geico with a special alumni discount. The postcard included die cuts for a little gecko paper doll, complete with a die cut UC Irvine basketball jersey to “dress him in your school colors.”

Here’s a picture of the postcard:


I found that I couldn’t resist punching it all out and assembling my Geico gecko paper doll. The paper doll was a great engagement gimmick. It caught my attention and enticed me to take action.

But I easily resisted Geico

However, although I “took action” by assembling my little gecko, this nifty little involvement device did not give me any desire to “click or call” this insurance company to “see how much you could save today.” In fact, I thought it odd that the copy all talked about how much I “could” save and not how much I “can” or “will” save. It made it appear as though the savings to be had was as theoretical as the stuff I studied back in school!

Beware of gimmicks

A lot of today’s marketing programs are aimed at engaging members of the target market in order to move them along the sales funnel. Which is good. But when you’re creating engagement devices you need to think about what action you will be encouraging. In this case the paper doll was a great way to tie the well-known Geico mascot to my alma mater. But once I punched it out and assembled it, the rest of the post card (i.e. the part with the sales message) looked like trash. Which is where it went. 

It was a memorable gimmick, but in the end it was just a gimmick.

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"Each time I work with Linda, I am reminded just how well she understands marketing. Linda understands the principles of marketing on a psychological level. She sees the bigger picture. She is pragmatic, insightful and incredibly fast."

Kristine Putt,
Owner and Brand Identity Designer, Paragon Moon