Over analyzing commercials is one of my favorite things to do. It’s right up there with over sleeping, overeating and overpaying for Jameson shots at bars. And, right now there’s a commercial out there that leaves me scratching my over-analytical head. Now, I can’t take full credit for this analysis. Some of it has to go to Grantland.com writer Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell). When I saw Barnwell tearing into the commercial I’m about to mention on Twitter, I was pissed at myself because I had the same feelings, but never put my thoughts on paper. So, in my own words, although borrowing some themes from Barnwell, here is my analysis of the audacious GEICO commerical featuring Brian Orakpo playing a Scrabble-esque game with the caveman. I have many, many issues with this commercial. They are as follows. (*Watch the commercial if you haven’t seen it recently. And, if you haven’t seen it recently, you don’t own a TV)
1) First and foremost, “Orakpoed” is not a word. I’m not saying I’m a huge stickler for rules, but c’mon, the fact that the word you play HAS to be a real word is pretty much the stalwart rule of Scrabble or any game like it. It’s like allowing your opponent to win Connect Four in only three moves. Also, it is extremely unrealistic that Orakpo just happened to get those letters. I’m calling bullshit.
2) How does the caveman not know Orakpo’s last name? You’d think that given the nature of their seemingly friendly relationship that the caveman would know his friend’s last name and also know that he is a high-profile NFL Defensive End. From there, you’d think the caveman would then be able to deduce his friend’s intent by using the word “Orakpoed”. Deduction: Not so easy a caveman could do it.
This is also brings to light another interesting feature of this commercial – that Orakpo needs to be identified in all these GEICO commercials, including this one. Why? Because he is Brian Orakpo and I’d assume that the vast majority of Americans have no idea who he is. I mean, in the Scrabble commercial, Orakpo is literally wearing a t-shirt that says “Orakpo”. Really, Geico? Brian Orakpo is the guy you chose for your national campaign? Maybe GEICO was just trying to save 15% or more on its marketing costs. What a joke.
3) How many tiles do you get in this game? I let this go with “Orakpo”, but I’m not going to let it slide with “Neanderthal”. Simply put, it’s just too many tiles! Neanderthal has 11 letters and Scrabble rules indicate that a player is only supposed to have seven tiles at a time. I understand this game isn’t exactly Scrabble, but how much can it actually divert from the classic game that has pretty much all the rules ironed out. Stop trying to re-invent the game. That’s my motto.
4) With the above knowledge of seemingly unlimited tiles at your disposal, how does the caveman, in his first turn, only play “cat”? He has a full slate of tiles and a wide-open board. His opponent just played “Orakpo” right down the middle. The caveman has the benefit of two additional vowels (A,O), a commonly used consonant (R) and high-value letters (K and P). How is it that “cat” is his best option from his tiles? In Scrabble, that’s only worth three points! Something just doesn’t quite add up, Geico. Something just doesn’t quite add up.
5) Doesn’t it seem like the caveman overreacts a bit to Orakpo playing “Neanderthal”? I mean, without any context, I don’t think that this word has that bad of a subtext. It’s just as if the Caveman played the word “human”. I’m starting to sense that this caveman is a little too sensitive. You’d think with his tough existence that included having to kill what you ate and not having electricity that he would have some thicker skin. I guess toughness truly just is a nine-letter word.
6) During the caveman’s frustrated rant, Orakpo goes ahead and plays “GEICO”. I’ll ignore the shameless plug and get to my real problem. I understand my argument about the number of tiles each player has is a little nit-picky (even though that is the point of this column), but there is NO way, and I mean NO way, that this game should allow a player to go twice in a row. What is this Romper Room? (I’m not exactly sure what that reference means, but that’s what my high school basketball coach would say whenever we lost focus in practice and things started getting chaotic. So, in my blog, it plays.)
7) Why doesn’t Orakpo chase after his obviously very distraught friend? After an altercation like this, you should absolutely try to quickly mend your relationship with your buddy. I mean, it’s just a game. No game is worth the end of a friendship. Well, except maybe fantasy football. Plus, based on the caveman’s limited cognitive abilities mentioned above, leaving him alone to fend for himself in a modern world might be dangerous. C’mon, Orakpo. Be a good friend. Lord knows you have the time. It’s not like the playoffs are going to get in your way.
8) How did they get to the park? Did they drive together? The caveman mentions that he is taking the bus, so I’m assuming then that Orakpo drove. Looks to me like the caveman was just trying to get out of splitting the gas.
9) What is a pancake social? And why does that sound like the most awesome thing ever? A social gathering….that revolves around pancakes! You can sign me up for some fluffy, syrupy goodness any day of the week. Sounds almost too good to be true. Next thing you’re going to tell me is that there is bacon at these socials too.
10) Lastly,who plays this Scrabble-esque game outside anymore? First off, as seen in Independence Day, the only game allowed to be played outside in a park is chess. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the case. But, more to the point, just play Words With Friends on your Smartphone. Who wants to actually add up all the points by hand and have to check the dictionary if you’re playing a real word (although that doesn’t seem to matter much in this game)? Seriously, Orakpo and caveman, just play on your phones so you don’t have to have any face-to-face communication like the rest of America.
In conclusion, I am sorry, Geico, but your non-gecco ad campaigns are coming up short. After seeing this, I’m going with President Palmer – so I know I’m in good hands.