There used to be a time when movie studios turned to fast-food restaurants to help sell their product, and the merchandising came in the form of a kid’s meal toy in the hopes that the plaything would in turn make the kid nag their parents to bring them to a movie. And while kid meal movie toy tie-ins still very much exist, the idea of merging the worlds of advertisers and tentpole movies has become more commonplace. Call it a shared cinematic-advertiser universe, where either the film’s characters become involved in the advertiser’s setting or vice-versa.
One such merging of the movie-sponsor universes that comes to mind happened in 2013 when Man of Steel star Henry Cavill appeared in ads for Hardees, creating potholes for construction workers to fix. Not only were the ads humorous, they made you awfully hungry for the fast-food chain’s burgers. Plus, the whole of idea of Cavill having a sense of humor about the situation made Superman, hence the film, all the more appealing, which apparently was another intention of the commercial.
Now, with the highly anticipated MCU sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 just a month away, insurance company Geico is putting its popular mascot Gecko to work in a new commercial, teaming him with somebody his own size from the film. The character, of course would be none other than Baby Groot, whose character started from the ground (make that potted soil) up after the lurching, tree-like figure sacrificed himself at the end of the first Guardians movie in 2014. But in this spot, the Geico lizard has something else he wants Groot to save.
Beginning the commercial in a movie theater watching the Guardians in action, Gecko imagines a simple new scenario for Groot and his band of fellow rogues:
“The Guardians of the Galaxy saved the galaxy; I save people money. What if we teamed up?”
Before you know it, Gecko is in Baby Groot’s cinematic universe, saying, “Quick, everyone is paying too much in car insurance! We’ve got to save them … money!” Baby Groot answers Gecko’s plea by saying (what else?), “I am Groot” – which eventually is interpreted that “Geico could save you 15 percent or more.”
For a company looking to save something for its customers (money, of course), Geico’s teaming with one of the saviors of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for an advertising campaign is a stroke of genius. Gecko fits perfectly Baby Groot’s world not only in size, but in comedic tone. The humor in the commercial doesn’t feel forced, but more of a natural pairing of an advertiser and a client with a common goal. Whoever is running the marketing department at Geico, they clearly know their stuff.