Infantile man replaces Flo (for now) in new Progressive Insurance campaign


For everyone out there who’s ever found Flo, Progressive Insurance’s over-the-top, on-camera spokeswoman just a wee bit abrasive, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is, “Progressive has sent Flo on a temporary vacation,” according to a May 7 MediaPost Marketing Daily report.

The bad news is, her “temporary” replacement will have you counting not only the days, but the hours, minutes and seconds till she’s back on the job.

A Facebook Premium Video Ad first

There’s also another piece of good news. If you’re fortunate enough to be neither Genertaion Y nor Millennial, you may never see the campaign; it’s not targeted to you.

The video campaign will be visible only on Progressive’s website, on YouTube, and on Facebook Premium Video Ads, where, Jonathan Beamer, Progressive’s marketing strategy and innovation business leader says, his company will be the first national brand to advertise.

Gen Yers and Millennials are “a segment we’ve targeted before, and this platform gives us a different way to try and reach that audience at scale,” Beamer says. “Currently, we only have plans to run it on Facebook. We will follow up with additional Facebook posts, maybe even an animated gif or two.”

Father doesn’t know best

The campaign’s strategy is driven by the earthshattering insight that when it comes to insurance and other financial matters, young adults ask their parents for advice. Progressive means to put a stop to this pernicious practice.

“Nobody should blindly accept his or her parents’ choice,” Beamer told Marketing Daily. “If young adults haven’t re-evaluated their insurance choices, they are probably not getting the value they deserve.”

Of course, if they blindly accept Progressive’s advice, they may be forgoing possible multi-policy discounts they might otherwise earn by hitchhiking on Mom and Dad’s insurance.

Insult = salesmanship?

The videos themselves follow what seems to be a developing trend in the insurance industry, namely, selling prospective customers by insulting them.

Esurance kicked off the trend with commercials that brand anyone who calls competitor Geico for an estimate as senile, stupid and worse. Now Progressive follows suit.

Its campaign features an adult baby – a man who gets from place to place in an oversize baby carrier, drinks from a baby bottle, sits in a high chair, burps and spits up as he goes about his business day. The viewer is somehow supposed to infer from this that “he’s still relying on an insurance decision that his parents made a generation ago,” though neither the video nor the audio says so. Nor, except for one word in the end super, is there any mention of any consumer benefit.

The only message to young adults who insure with someone other than Progressive is that Progressive thinks they’re overgrown babies. And that’s supposed to shame them into getting an estimate. That and a gruff voice-over that shouts, “Act your age! Dump your parents’ insurance company!” followed by a super reading, “”

Flo, where are you now that we need you?


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