What do camels, fishermen, scapegoats, free-range chickens and Dora the Explorer have in common?
They’re all the subjects of the current video ad campaign for GEICO Insurance, where people, animals, or fictional characters are shown engaging in, or being subjected to, apparently absurd behavior, but which turns out to perfectly congruent with who they are. A voice-over announcer concludes, for example:
“If you’re a free-range chicken, you roam free. It’s what you do. If you want to save 15% or more on car insurance, you switch to GEICO. It’s what you do.”
Launched in 2014, the campaign is a another in a series of satirical and sometimes outrageous TV spots designed to grab attention and entertain. But in the case of the “It’s what you do” campaign the Martin Agency, GEICO’s longtime advertising firm, is either intentionally or inadvertently pursuing the activation of a powerful emotional trigger. From the original book edition of The 7 Triggers to Yes:
People are slaves to consistency and conformity. Our internal guidance system compels us to be consistent with the way we see ourselves and the way we see our admired peers. From birth forward we create an internal databank recording emotional feelings based on beliefs and past performance.
The amygdala employs this past performance databank as an easy, safe, comfortable, non-thinking guide to make current decisions and to generate action… When we learn what others have done in the past, what they will be consistent with, we gain incredible power to persuade.
By depicting surprising and amusing scenarios of behavioral continuity, and then likening them to the viewer’s own neurological attachment to continuity and conformity – it’s what you do – the GEICO spots are all about activating the Consistency Trigger.