Exactly the Right Time to Shut Up

Crisis Communications
pig smiling 06.12.13

It was supposed to be just another innocently fun episode in the life and times of the cute little GEICO pig, the happy hog who reps the lighter side of the “save you money” insurance. Ronn Torossian 5WPR has written before about how the pig was a solid PR move by GEICO to present another aspect of its product. However, not everyone is happy about what the little ham has been up to lately.

In a recent ad, Maxwell the Pig sits in a car at lookout point, presumably with a date (he’s been on several). The car is broken down and he’s searching for a tow truck using the (hey!) GEICO road assistance app. Pretty nifty, right?

Well, his lady friend has other ideas. She makes a few cartoonish, and overblown passes that the little pig misses because, well, we assume it’s because he’s a pig advertising a cell phone application.

Sure, the situation is familiar to anyone who’s been a teenager with a car, or seen a movie containing the same. However, that’s the joke. It’s absurd, and the utter innocence of the cute little pig is part of the joke.

This is funny for the same reason as seeing the pig squeal in the back of a van as part of a kids’ carpool, or holler in glee on a jet ski is funny. He. Is. A. Pig.

But that distinction, and the accompanying humor, were lost on a particular group of “moms” from Mississippi. Apparently, the Tupelo chapter of One Million Moms, a website that claims membership in the American Family Association, argues that the Maxwell the Pig ad glorifies bestiality. “The girl is turned on by the pig, and hints that she wants to make out.”

This is exactly the sort of thing in the “complaint” filed by the “moms.”

Now, we want to take a moment to assert that, in no way, do we believe there are One Million Moms involved. Nor do we believe all of these moms lack a funny bone. However, the complaint was made, and it quickly became a PR issue for GEICO to address.

And…They. Said. Nothing.

That, Ronn Torossian asserts, was exactly the right response. See, the overwhelmingly VAST majority of respondents got the joke. Even the subculture that asserts all men are “pigs” saw the humor here.

There are a million arguments that could be made here, but GEICO needed to make exactly NONE of them. Could this lead to people selling their policies? The offense was trumped up, and absurdly fell on its face. To address it would have only raised it up to being worthy of response. In refusing to take the bait, GEICO and Maxwell the Pig were able to move on with life, and not waste a moment falling for what had to be a publicity stunt.

Good call Maxwell.


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