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While attending the Chicago Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in July, I noticed that several insurance companies had exhibits at the runner’s expo held before the race. The expos are like little conventions where you can check out all kinds of running gear and supplies, but the insurers were on hand mainly to raise their own brand awareness. Humana did it by sponsoring the run itself—a good move, since healthy runners are an ideal book of business for any self-respecting health insurer. Transamerica was also in the house, another solid move since what goes for health insurers also goes for life insurers: The longer you live, the happier they tend to be.

GEICO was also exhibiting, and it had on hand a fellow dressed in a big mascot suit as the GEICO gecko. The problem with this is that the animated gecko you see on TV has a weird kind of expressiveness to him that humanizes him. The guy in the gecko suit had two massive, grey-alien style orbs for eyes, and all it did was creep my kids out. When the gecko playfully put his hands over the eyes of my 13-year-old daughter, she came close to showing Mr. Gecko exactly why she is only a few classes away from earning her mixed martial arts black belt. I felt kind of bad for the Gecko, though, since just two years before, my kids were at a different Rock ‘N’ Roll running expo and Brooks shoes had a guy dressed as a Jesus lizard, who was running back and forth across a pool of non-Newtonian fluid to simulate running across water. Somehow my kids found him to be awesome, but the Gecko tripped the creep-o-meter. Some times you just can’t catch a break.

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