We cringe every time we see the new Geico commercial in which a guy decides to save money on a weight loss program by instead hiring a squad of three popular middle school girls to follow him around. Each time he stops to eat, they chime in with a self-righteous tone: “Ew.” “Seriously?!” “So gross.”
There are so many disturbing factors in this ad that we’re not sure where to start. Aside from the fact that the girls are shaming the guy about eating, they’re basically bullying him to conform to their idea of what’s appropriate. Encouraging and valuing the mean girls stereotype is a terrible message to send to the wide audience that will see the ad, which first aired about a month ago. They not only bully the man about his choices in person, but at one point, one of the girls takes a photo of him eating fast food, clearly ready to post it online and engage in a little cyberbullying. Numerous youth-focused companies and organizations have put great effort into reminding tweens, teens, and even older Millennials that bullying of any variety is wrong, and here’s an ad that suggests that it’s not only okay, but that it even does some good.
Then there’s the depiction of the girls themselves. They’re “Plastics,” to borrow a term from the movie “Mean Girls,” expressionless and unfeeling, repeating the same few words over and over. And they’re depicted as what to emulate in the ad.
While the ad is aimed at adults, teens and tweens are hardly immune to its messages, which not only suggest that you can save money on car insurance, but that it’s okay to bully others. We wish that this edition of Geico’s “Easier Way To Save” series of ads would be retired — the others are funnier and less harmful.