At the same time, online retailers were creating a more competitive market, and advertisers started to sense a shift in how consumers saw commercials, said Paul Radich, a marketing professor at Catholic University who served on the ethics committee of the American Marketing Association from 2011 to 2014.

Advertisers began asking, “Are we appealing to their instincts and desires in a temporary fashion, or are we trying to engage them in a narrative about their own life and how we as a company can fit into their own life?” he said.

Many commercials moved toward absurdist humor — as with many of Geico’s ads — or appeals to family, like a 2016 ad for Honda in which a man gets home safely to his young wife and baby thanks to the reliable emergency brake system.

That commercial was a far cry from “Man’s Last Stand,” a 2010 Dodge ad that showed beaten-down men defiantly telling the women in their lives that if they have to comply with chores and other demands, they will buy whatever car they want.