Geico has launched a commercial series entitled “The Gecko”s Journey,” in which their mascot travels around the U.S.

After nearly getting trampled during his New York City Brooklyn bridge commercial shoot last month, the gecko decided to recuperate from this traumatic experience by spending a couple of weeks in Chicago, taking in a game from the Wrigley Field bleachers and taste testing Gino”s East pizza.

The Gecko was heckled relentlessly throughout the game by some bleacher bums who claimed they couldn”t understand his accent, however he seems to have some support.  One longtime season ticket holder remarked, “I always thought he just read cue cards and looked unassuming in those commercials, but he”s actually fairly intelligent and I think he could teach economics at my son”s high school. I”m just worried the biology department would kidnap and dissect him in the name of science.”

Last week, the dejected gecko showed up at Accent Pros” offices in the Hancock Building begging us to help him speak with a standard American accent and talk like a true Chicagoan. With only one day of accent training, the gecko developed a Chicago accent with a twist. Check it out for yourself.

Animals in Marketing

The Geico gecko and Aflac duck are the two foremost examples of an animal mascot being used to sell products. A study on brand recognition discovered that children as young as three are able to quickly identify and retain information in ads if an animal is somehow involved with the advertising.  Therefore the earlier in a consumer”s life a company can make an impression the more likely they will buy a product. The gecko was born out of sheer necessity in 1999 when a screen actors guild strike prohibited the use if live actors.

When he first appeared, the gecko was voiced by Kelsey Grammer with a roughened British accent and a frantic personality to match, as the gecko called a press conference to insist customers stop calling him after confusing the words “gecko” and “Geico”.

In subsequent commercials, steps were taken to find a voice actor who could make the gecko sound approachable with a sense of authority. Dan Kelly portrayed the gecko with a British Australian accent, whereas the current actor Jake Wood has a Cockney accent. Geico representatives believe this accent works because it goes against the high-pitched voice people expect when they see a talking animal on TV. Despite sidestepping one stereotype, the gecko is often mistakenly thought to have a pure Australian English accent.

If you would like to learn more about how to talk like a Chicagoan or if you live in Chicago and want to learn how to reduce your accent, we here at Accent Pros offer classes in the Hancock building, and support clients worldwide through our on-line one-on-one interactive personal accent reduction training sessions via skype or other online video conferencing tools.