Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a really cool movie -- or was it just a movie? Has it happened again, to the Geico gecko? Here is today's Gecko, having a distinct Cockney accent. Now, the first Geico Gecko commercial, with a distinctly different, upper-crust type British accent. Yet another early Geico Gecko commercial is squarely in a transitional phase between the two voices.

So, why the switch? Probably because the character proved more successful than initially imagined (Geico actually throws a lot of them out there, and reuses those that seem to hit), but the ad crafters decided that it would seem unrealistic for a Gecko to be constantly pitching different aspects of the company if it maintained the initial schtick exemplified in the two early ads -- telling people to not call it, because said people were supposedly confusing Geico with the Gecko. The early message was upper crust to convey the delicate, if somewhat snooty, sensibilities of a refined Englishman, the sort of fellow who would indeed be distressed about getting calls meant for an insurance agency. Once the Gecko was switched to pitchman, that voice went all wrong; instead a folksier, everyman accent was called for.

I can not help but be reminded of the similar switch in accent interpretation between the original Alfred in the Batman tv show (why, there's even a clip), which was echoed in that first descending spiral of Batman films, contrasted with the more Cockney-spritely tone adopted by Michael Caine in the Chris Nolan films. Maybe the Caine/Nolan decision was even based on the same influences as the Geico gecko switch, wanting to impart a more sympathetic everyman gloss on a character that could easily have been tagged as too 'proper' to resonate with an audience. Maybe the Geico commercials, then in full swing, were themselves an influence, whether subconscious or well-considered. Or maybe Michael Caine just did Cockney better because, after all that's how he talks. Which, in turn, makes me think that maybe they had Michael Caine in mind when they came up with the new voice of the Geico gecko.

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