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Port Authority Scuttles GEICO Ads in New York-New Jersey

Responding to legislative pressure, the New York-New Jersey Port Authority has scuttled plans for a $3.2 million advertising campaign by GEICO on billboards at the...
January 9, 2007

Responding to legislative pressure, the New York-New Jersey Port Authority has scuttled plans for a $3.2 million advertising campaign by GEICO on billboards at the George Washington Bridge.

The Port Authority's decision follows sharp criticism from Senate President and PIA member Richard Codey (D) and Assemblyman Neil Cohen (D), chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee. Both said the Port Authority should not accept any advertising from industries, like insurance companies that are regulated by the state.

"Ultimately, the agency determined that the benefits of this sponsorship were not worth the potential negative impact on our long-term goals or reputation as responsible stewards of the region's infrastructure," said Stephen Sigmund, a Port Authority spokesman. Placing GEICO ads, which read "GEICO - Drive Safely," on billboards above the bridge's toll booths on the lower and upper levels were the most visible part of the campaign. Additionally, the company's gecko mascot gecko was to appear about 30 times on toll booths and one mailing with GEICO literature was to accompany E-ZPass statements each of the next two years.  The Port Authority was attempting to find additional ways to raise revenues without increasing tolls.

"PIA of New Jersey believes that no state regulated authority should allow advertisements that may be misunderstood as supported by the state government. The implied endorsement of the state should not be for sale to the highest bidder," said PIA of New Jersey President Andrew Anderson, CIC. "We applaud Assemblyman Neil Cohen, Senate President Richard Codey and Governor Jon Corizine's quick action against this practice and we are pleased that the Port Authority recognizes that a state authority should not support any single company over another in ours, or any, industry," said Anderson.


Port Authority Pulls Plans for Gecko*update* (WABC-TV New York 1/08/07) 

GEICO's Gecko Won't Grace GWB*update* (New Jersey Star-Ledger 1/7/07) 

State Taking New Look at Tool Booth Ad (New Jersey Star-Ledger 1/6/07) 

GEICO Gecko Greets N.J. Motorists on Public Road Signs, Toll Plaza (Ins. Journal 1/4/07)

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