Paul DavisFollow




School of Communication and Digital Content


Master of Arts in Communication (MA)


Angela Widgeon

Primary Subject Area

Business Administration, General; Business Administration, Marketing; Language, Rhetoric and Composition; Mass Communications


Advertising, Content Analysis, Elaboration Likelihood Model, Geico, Humorous Message Taxonomy, Marketing


Advertising and Promotion Management | Broadcast and Video Studies | Business | Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Marketing | Mass Communication | Public Relations and Advertising | Rhetoric and Composition | Speech and Rhetorical Studies


In this media saturated world which is lived in today, the general public is bombarded by a multitude of advertisements. This thesis was conducted to examine Geico's commercial advertising looking specifically at their use of humor. The Elaboration Likelihood Model and the Humorous Message Taxonomy were used to conduct this content analysis. The research examined the route of persuasion and elaboration that were used in 60 Geico commercials from five of their most recent campaigns. The Humorous Message Taxonomy helped to establish which types of humor were being used along with the processes and relationship between elements. Three research questions were addressed the first of which questioned the peripheral or central nature of processing issue relevant arguments in these commercials. It was found that Geico due to their use of humor and emotional appeals preferred peripheral processing in all 60 commercials. The second research question examined the use of the Humorous Message Taxonomy. The humor process that was used the most was incongruity-resolution which was present in all the commercials examined. The humor type of satire involving incongruity-resolution and humorous disparagement was seen the most in 29 of the 60 advertisements. The humor relatedness that was seen predominately in these commercials was found to be semantic relatedness in 52 of the 60 commercials. The last research question analyzed effectiveness based on annual revenue, policyholders, and YouTube views. Geico's revenue increased during the years in which the commercials were aired by 201 million dollars on average. Whereas policyholder decreased by 45,000 on average during those years. The total amount of YouTube views reached 11,236,321 views for all 60 commercials. These results showed some increase but effectiveness was hard to determine due to multiple factors and lack of non-humorous comparisons. Future research will have to be conducted to effectively analyze the actual effectiveness of Geico's advertising.