Your insurance company: we pretend to feel your pain

Has anyone else seen the horrid insurance tv ads running in the aftermath of Katrina? I'm pretty sure they were for GEICO. Not the usual "lizard doing the robot" stuff, but more of a corporate training video shot on a sound stage. Pleasant, unstressed and ethnically diverse victims wander around a space in front of a GEICO emergency claims trailer. Under an awning, welcoming and smiling adjusters have clipboards at the ready, and you can just imagine a stash of $100 bills slipped inside their traveller's belt.

Everyone seems to be wearing selections from Land's End spring catalog - bland colours, traditional collar and sleeve styles, innocuous and unfashionable.

And the lighting is so orchestrated, there's not a shadow to be seen. And there's no water on the ground. And the trailers are clean. And not a single person is crying, or holding a screaming baby.

The final giveaway? In an effort to make the scene seem busy, couples wander in and out of the shot, ostensibly finding their way from their flooded car to the respite of a GEICO travel trailer kitchenette ... But their movement is so choreographed and without evident purpose that the set piece they create looks like it was lifted directly from an ad for a shopping mall. Or a mattress store midnite madness sale.

The worst thing a company can do, in the face of such destruction and personal grief, is trot out a generic "emergency claims" ad in an effort to demonstrate your corporate compassion.

In