Happy New Year, TV Fans! The Flaming Nose TV Blog will keep up a more robust schedule this year -- fingers crossed -- and we're going to start 2015 with a possibly curmudgeonly but justifiable complaint about the newest GEICO insurance company TV spot featuring a pair of camels being harassed by zoo patrons.
The tone has definitely changed from the original ad featuring Caleb the friendly, gregarious and loquacious camel strolling through an office alerting coworkers to Hump Day.
The general public instantly responded to the genial camel and the ad became a viral favorite. Good enough -- fun commercial, worth a smile, and the ad creators made the audience fall for and empathize with the agreeable camel who was so excited about Wednesday and wanted to share his enthusiasm.
GEICO went on to feature Caleb in an ad especially designed for movie theaters:
Caleb also co-starred with former football great Terry Bradshaw in several bits for the 2014 Super Bowl:
GEICO's newest Caleb spot, currently running, takes a very different approach. No longer is Caleb the Camel the star or even the center of attention of the spot. Caleb isn't even there, just two other camels at a zoo who find themselves the objects of incessant verbal bullying by zoo visitors who can't resist yelling lines from the previous commercials at them. Funny, right? And is the tagline supposed to be funny, too?
Really? It's what's camels are supposed to do, take verbal abuse from morons? I thought that as a nation we're supposed to be so into stopping bullying behavior in all walks of life. This spot is a complete celebration of bullying as a pastime, and it's even more unpleasant as it has not only a theme of acceptance of bullying but also a tinge of it's okay to abuse animals, too, because they're supposed to take it. It's what they do, right? We can treat animals -- even ones in TV commercials -- any way we want, because that's what they're here for.
What's the logical follow-up to the behavior in this spot, anyway? The zoo patrons get annoyed because they don't get a response from the camels and start throwing rocks at them or something? Certainly in real life zoo visitors can't be trusted not to harass the animals. The Nashville Zoo, for example, explicitly instructs visitors to "Respect the Animals: Do not make loud sounds, bang on windows, throw objects into exhibits, harass or tease the animals. Anyone found doing any of the above will be asked to leave the Zoo." Zoo officials in India complain about rude and rowdy patrons; click here for the story. People who work in zoos deal with incredibly crass and stupid patrons all the time; click here for an article. And in London, visitors attending special nighttime zoo fundraising events have behaved disgustingly towards the animals; click here for the article.
The GEICO spot is totally out of line. The only genuinely funny ending to this ad would be if both camels looked at each other and asked each other "Do we dare?," nod, and then deliver a famous camel spit at the loudest most loutish man in the group of onlookers. Let the camels defend themselves.
Sure, it's just an ad, but it's indicative of the way that examples of abusive behavior towards animals are considered hilarious by some portion of the population and therefore fit to be used as humor in entertainment and now to sell cheap insurance.
Media coverage of the new ad has been uniformly positive, as seen from this article from Adweek (click here) and this one from Inquisitr (click here). Sorry. We beg to disagree.
There's a nasty taste to these newest GEICO ads.
GEICO, you missed the boat on this one.
|Just Minding Their Own Business|
|Bullying the Camels|