They call him GEICO

By on January 13, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

As a member of GEICO’s public relations staff, I hear about our company’s name being used in some pretty interesting and creative ways. The other day, though, a story like I had never seen came across my desk.

Captain Justin Carlson, a fighter pilot in the United States military, is known by his colleagues as “GEICO.” It’s his nickname, or as aviators call it, his “call sign.” These have a long history in the armed forces and are given to an aviator by a member of his or her squadron or training class, or by some other colleague.

Here’s the story behind Captain Carlson taking on GEICO as his call sign. Early in his career as a pilot, Carlson experienced some minor mechanical mishaps with his plane and was also prone to leaving his helmet in maintenance spaces.

The mechanics who maintained his jet were none too happy about the mishaps, and they figured that if Captain Carlson could be a fighter pilot, it must be so easy a caveman can do it. Soon thereafter, images of the GEICO caveman circulated around the squadron and made their way onto Carlson’s locker and on the squadron’s picture board in place of his face, and GEICO became his call sign.

Captain Carlson has embraced his call sign. He holds the company in high regard and has a strong appreciation for its storied history. “My opinion of GEICO is very high,” Captain Carlson said. “I’ve read a lot about the company’s history in the course of reading about Warren Buffett and Ben Graham. I respect how it’s grown to be the cornerstone of Berkshire Hathaway, which I regard as the most sound and dependable company in the world.”