pillsbury doughboy
Mar 29, 2013 • By

Pillsbury Doughboy giggles for GEICO

Baking and auto insurance?

Those two worlds come together with an appearance by the Pillsbury Doughboy in a new commercial from GEICO, as part of its “Happier than…” series of ads.

The theme of the Doughboy spot is that consumers who switch their auto insurance to GEICO will be “happier than the Pillsbury Doughboy on his way to a baking convention.”

The commercial shows Poppin’ Fresh giggling repeatedly in an airport security line, when a TSA agent tries to pat him down.

The ad is the product of a partnership between Pillsbury, GEICO and The Martin Agency of Richmond, Va. – who approached General Mills with the idea early last year.

Waylon Good, associate marketing manager for Pillsbury at that time, helped steer the project through the brand, along with Muffie Taggett, our advertising production manager at General Mills, who brought the agency’s idea to Pillsbury.

Waylon told me that right off the bat, it was important for our marketing and creative teams to make sure the agency knew about the Doughboy’s history and what he brings to the Pillsbury brand.

“The agency did a phenomenal job of internalizing the strategy we relayed to them and bringing it back to us in a really funny and innovative way,” says Waylon. “It took us a little bit out of our comfort zone in taking the Doughboy out of the kitchen, but it’s a funny spot that stays core to the brand and how we want the Doughboy portrayed.” (Waylon explains more about that, in this audio clip).

Once we approved the idea for the commercial, the agency team worked with our animators (Topix out of Toronto) and the actor who voices the Doughboy (JoBe Cerny) to create the scenes in the airport security line.

Muffie told me that Pillsbury was well aware of GEICO’S “Happier than…” TV spots and that our teams enjoyed being invited into the process to make the Doughboy a part of it.

“We were huge fans of that campaign and we saw how things were treated in it so our teams were very enthusiastic about this commercial and we felt comfortable that they could find a way to make this work,” Muffie says. “Also, the Doughboy is a great character and I think you see that in the response to the commercial so far – people love the Doughboy.”

You can hear more from Muffie about how the Doughboy and his giggle – and rare use of his voice – is portrayed in the ad, in this audio clip from my interview with her.

While researching this post, I learned it’s not the first time a General Mills equity character has been featured in another company or organization’s commercial.

You might recall a Mastercard “Priceless” commercial in 2005 that featured the Doughboy, the Green Giant and Count Chocula. In addition, several of our characters appeared in the “Got Milk?” campaign, which included this great spot with the Trix Rabbit.

Doug Moore, our vice president of Advertising and Branding, says the Doughboy’s GEICO ad might spur us to look for other opportunities to use him, or other characters, in our own advertising.

“Seeing others like GEICO, Mastercard and “Got Milk” valuing our equities is a great reminder that we have a ton more potential ourselves to unleash our own characters. It’s not every day we get to hear that classic Doughboy giggle in a TSA security line!”

What do you think of the Doughboy’s GEICO commercial?