Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 9:34 PM on Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Geico commercials filmed on Time Bandit Caveman gets keys to Homer


At first glance, the guy hanging around the F/V Time Bandit Thursday afternoon with the shaggy hair, bushy beard, red turtleneck sweater and down vest might look like your average crab fisherman. There's something a bit odd about him, though — and not just because he wasn't wearing XtraTufs. Maybe it's the heavy brow, the wide nose and the hairy hands.


Photo by Michael Armstrong

The Geico Caveman, left, holds up the key to the city after Homer Mayor James Hornaday, right, presented him the key on the deck of the F/V Time Bandit. The Caveman was in Homer to film a series of commercials on the F/V Time Bandit.

If he looks a bit Neanderthal, well, that's because he is.

Homer, meet the Caveman.

Last Thursday during the last gasp of a howling blizzard, Homer Mayor James Hornaday formally welcomed to town the Caveman, played by actor Mack Woodend. On the deck of the Time Bandit, Homer's star crab boat on the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch TV series, Hornaday presented the Caveman the key to the city. He also gave keys to Capt. Andy Hillstrand and Capt. Johnathan Hillstrand, the Homer-raised captains of the Time Bandit.

The Caveman is a character in a series of commercials for Geico Insurance Company.

Playing off Geico's slogan about getting a quote, "So simple a caveman could do it," the commercials presume that the ancient human race of Neanderthals didn't die out, and a few cavemen survive. They're hip, urbane and sophisticated — and mad at Geico for making fun of them.

This week, DKP Productions came to Homer to film new commercials featuring the Caveman and the Time Bandit. Geico didn't want to identify the actor playing the Caveman.

"He's real. He's a real caveman," said Shannon Wilson, a spokesperson for Geico.

KTUU television identified Woodend as the Caveman when reporters interviewed him — out of costume — and Johnathan Hillstrand last week when they got stuck at an avalanche in Turnagain Pass trying to get to Homer.

Last week, crews with DCP Productions of Baltimore were seen around town at the Deep Water Dock and at All About You nail salon in the Hillas Building on Pioneer Avenue. A big motorhome and a small caravan of trucks, trailers and vans also was parked on the Spit. Filming started Wednesday and continued on Thursday and Friday — as with all things in crab fishing, weather permitting. It doesn't take much to imagine funny scenarios — say, the Caveman joining the Time Bandit crew.

"The last two spots we've been doing have been a lot of fun," said Andy Hillstrand.

The Hillstrands connected with Geico after becoming fans of the Miss Geico, the offshore racing boat. Johnathan Hillstrand joined the Miss Geico crew, Marc Granet and Scott Begovich, in setting a world record speed run from Miami to Palm Beach, Fla., last December.

"I thought it would be cool to go from the fastest boat in the world to the slowest, deadliest boat in the world," Johnathan Hillstrand said of getting Geico to film on the Time Bandit.

The Geico commercials are only the latest in the Hillstrands' marketing of their boat. Spinning off their success on Deadliest Catch, the brothers have written a book (with Malcolm MacPherson) "Time Bandit: Two Brothers, The Bering Sea and One of the World's Deadliest Jobs," published in 2008 by Random House. They also have the Time Bandit store, managed by Lou Lovelace, with a street operation on the Homer Spit and online at www.timebandit.tv.

Zev Kanter of Geico marketing was in Homer for the shoot. He said that filming with the Hillstrands and the Time Bandit has been a good choice for Geico.

"It's a really good fit," he said. "They're good guys. It's a great show."

The commercials should air sometime in April. A sampling of the Caveman commercials can be seen at Geico's Web site at www.geico.com.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong.@homernews.com.