I’ve gone back into this site at least five times in the course of writing this creative review. There is such pure joy in discovering new places, features, music, video, and playful games in the “Caveman’s Crib” flash video microsite. There must be at least fifty “easter eggs” built into the flash site to discover new rooms and new features in the upscale urban condo. Right now, I’m in the online kitchen and just clicked on the refrigerator to get a close-up view of the magnets stuck to the face of it. I keep laughing out loud at how delightfully random certain things are in this upscale condo. Like badges of pride, the fridge magnets show Carlsbad Cavern, an advertisement for the local “Yoga and Home” location, Emergency Plumbing local company, grocery shopping list, and most importantly single-word magnets written in Esperanto. (Web users as intrigued as I am by these word magnets will go to Wikipedia to learn that Esperanto is the most widely spoken constructed international language that has roughly 1000 native speakers. Random yet delightful knowledge.)
The site reinforces the hilarious TV ads with the Geico Caveman’s own commentary on the ads. Each area has its own unique interactivity including the web user’s control over the iPod/music selection playing while browsing this site. There is just so much amazing content on this site, I continue to discover new things. Flip through different magazines on the coffee table or the cookbook in the kitchen. I only found one direct call-to-action to sign up on Geico’s main site, otherwise the site really provides a deeper connection to Geico’s Caveman and positions him with the audience as funny, real, and surprisingly intelligent. So far, “Caveman’s Crib” is my favorite site of ’07.
-- Ryan Buchanan, CEO, eROI
First, I must hand it to the people at Geico for actually finding an unfrozen Caveman. As a Canadian who spends time with these people on a daily basis, I also appreciate the difficulty as a Director working with their primaddonna attitudes and Neolithic "I invented fire" arrogance. However, the real coup here is in both a client with the smarts to create something completely different to reward its online audience, and an agency with the capabilities to so smoothly develop the site.
Effectively combining Flash video, design and a sense of space and physical transition is a task that requires an excellent team. Sites like these, which completely diverge from our traditional notions of navigation and "what a website should be" are far too rare.
What has been created here is a wonderful example of "on demand" and open-ended advertising experiences, where the consumer can explore a partially defined narrative and enjoy a sense of discovery and exploration, rather than simply sit passively and view a commercial. My only question about the site, which I think might be unjustified given the context it has in providing a backstory to a character from a television campaign, is how deeply the brand message is delivered in the experience. Without the context of the TV spots, does the site stand alone as a mechanism for delivering the brand messaging? I don't think it does-- but then neither did Subservient Chicken, Monk-e-mail, Elf Yourself or any of the many other virals out there that achieve success. These sites deliver their strength primarily in generating word of mouth with effectively zero support media costs, rather than in educating consumers, and they play an incredibly important role, I think, in forming a truly 360 campaign.
In creative we often talk about "the craft" and I think that this site is an example that will be remembered as one that forwarded the notion that the development of online brand experiences is, like television advertising, a craft. However it is one that requires a much different way of thinking than the development of a linear narrative. My only question is whether the Caveman ate the Gecko.
-- Sean MacPhedran, director, creative strategy, Fuel Industries