Ad Rant: Warren Buffett does his best Axl Rose for Geico
Sizzling up the Internet right now is a new ad for Geico that has the normally unassuming tycoon, champion stock-picker and philanthropist joining in an earnest power ballad about the pleasures of working in customer service.
"We're always true to youuuu," he croons, without irony. (That is, aside from the irony of dressing up like the lead singer of Guns 'N' Roses.)
Why Warren Buffett and not all the other 79-year-olds whose voices are better than his and who would also like the chance to sport tattoos and a purple bandana?
Because Buffett is the third-richest man in the world, for one thing. And because Geico is a subsidiary of his company, Berkshire-Hathaway, for another.
Buffett's obscene wealth is actually part of why the ad goes down so easy. You know he didn't need to take the gig to make the rent. And although he naturally has a financial stake in how well the ad serves to pump up sales of auto insurance, it's clear from the gestalt of this endearing mini-production that he was doing it mostly for fun.
Compare Buffett's ad with this one for insurer Swiftcover, starring punk rock legend Iggy Pop. As one dismayed commenter on YouTube put it: "say it ain't so iggy!"
Initially, they had to pull the ad-but not because it was so blatantly a sellout by a guy you never thought you'd see shilling for anything or anyone. It was because, oops, Swiftcover's policy at the time was that they didn't sell car insurance to musicians. You know, those customers who are likely to break a guitar over the steering wheel.
"I got it Swiftcovered," says Iggy in the ad. "I got insurance on my insurance!"
But, no, he was not Swiftcovered when he made the first ad. He wasn't eligible.
Meanwhile, the nearly two and a half minute Geico ad is performed by what they claim are actual employees. (Buffett doesn't hog the spotlight; his big moment comes at about two minutes into the ad.) Whether or not it's true, it gives the impression that the people who work at Geico love it there -- or at least are not so beaten down by the ol' 9-to-5 that they've lost their sense of humor.
Buffett isn't bad in his rock-star debut. The Geico lizard as "Slash" I could live without.