The running of the bulldogs

In the latest series (“It’s Not Surprising”) of GEICO tv ads, “Running of the Bulldogs”, with its silly play on the running of the bulls. A screen shot:


Description from

Men in white run for their lives through the streets of Spain. As one of them falls and begs for his life, the menace chasing them comes running around the corner — a herd of slobbering bulldogs. The fallen man braces for impact and gets a good licking.

That’s what bulldogs do: faced with people down on the street, they rush to lavish affection on them by licking their faces.

The commercial moral:

GEICO knows that the running of the bulldogs might be surprising, but how much money Aleia [a satisfied GEICO customer] saved on car insurance shouldn’t be.

You can watch the ad here.

Background: Pamplona and all that. From Wikipedia:

The Running of the Bulls (in Spanish: encierro, from the verb encerrar, “to corral, to enclose”) is a practice that involves running in front of a small group of cattle, typically six, of the toro bravo breed that have been let loose on a course of a sectioned-off subset of a town’s streets.

(#2) The running in Pamplona

The most famous running of the bulls is held during the nine-day festival of Sanfermines in honor of Saint Fermin in Pamplona, although they are also traditionally held in other places such as towns and villages across Spain, Portugal, in some cities in Mexico, and southern France during the summer.

The origin of this event comes from the need to transport the bulls from the fields outside the city, where they were bred, to the bullring, where they would be killed in the evening. During this ‘run’, youngsters would jump among them to show off their bravado. In Pamplona and other places, the six bulls in the event are still those that will feature in the afternoon bullfight of the same day.

Better yet: do it with bulldogs.

GEICO’s ads start with some arresting premise and then make a non-sequitur leap to the pitch. I posted a while ago on their series of “It’s What You Do” ads, and now it’s “It’s Not Surprising”. From the company’s site on the 3rd:

There are a lot of surprising things in this world. In our latest commercial series, we suggest a few scenarios you might be surprised by…

Like the running of the bull…dogs
Or runway models on a runway
Or Caesar on a caesar salad
Or ordering a getaway car from an app
Or Tiki Barber running a barbershop
Or a figure-skating sumo wrestler
Or Ice T at a lemonade stand

What’s not surprising? [Here’s the leap.] How much our customers really saved when they switched their car insurance to GEICO. In fact, new GEICO customers report saving an average of over $500 a year. How much could you save when you make the switch to GEICO?

Most of these involve word play, as with bulls / bulldogs. There’s runway, playing on senses 1 and 2 in this NOAD2 entry:

noun runway:  1 a leveled strip of smooth ground along which aircraft take off and land. 2 North American a raised aisle extending into the audience from a stage, especially as used for fashion shows. 3 an animal run, especially one made by small mammals in grass, under snow, etc. 4 an incline or chute down which something slides or runs.

And the proper name Caesar (as in Julius Caesar), originally a title, vs. the commonified caesar of caesar salad (see discussion of the salad in this posting, “It ended in a Mexican caesar salad” of 6/10/17).

And two other proper / common plays: Tiki Barber vs. barber and Ice-T vs. ice(d) tea.

On Tiki Barber, from Wikipedia:

Atiib Kiambu Hakeem-Ah “Tiki” Barber (born April 7, 1975) is a former American football running back who played for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL) for ten seasons. He played college football for the University of Virginia. Barber was drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft, and played his entire professional career for them.

And on the rapper and actor with the stage name Ice-T, notable for playing Det. Fin Tutuola on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, see my 2/24/15 posting “Cops and DAs”.

2 Responses to “The running of the bulldogs”

  1. Paul Sinasohn Says:

    Cf. “Wiener dog” and Heinz

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