VP, Marketing, GEICO
Ward joined Geico's advertising group in 1984 and has been with the company ever since. Over the past ten years he has created what the press calls "a stable of iconic pitchmen," including the Geico gecko and the loveable cavemen, shattering the notion that selling insurance is boring. Ward gives a lot of the credit for his success to Warren Buffett, who in 1996 made Geico a subsidiary of his Berkshire Hathaway. "You've got a great business model. Everything is working," Ward said Buffett told him. "The one thing I don't want you to have stand in your way is money. That's what I've got."
Ward likened that moment to a marketer's dream. "I wrote it down," he recalled. "Then I went down and told my folks to start working on plans to become more aggressive and figure out a way to hold him to his word." He said Geico's little green lizard was first conceived on the back of a napkin more than a decade ago. Geico's strategy of injecting humor into a boring category worked; under Ward's leadership Geico has gained market share and become one of the most visible consumer brands.