In the latest Progressive ad, there’s no Flo, just the usual humor we expect from the insurer.
The ad, via Arnold, features a man being criticized by a four-and-a-half-year-old child for not doing “cool spins” with the sign. Introduced in late January, the spot augments other creative approaches Progressive has taken, including “Group session,” which shows a character named Dr. Rick who coaches adults on how to avoid becoming their parents.
As some -- including The New York Post's Eric Spitznagel -- have observed, insurers have stepped into the fray as beer advertisers have dialed back their advertising. In 2021, about 15,560 beer commercials ran on TV versus 104,270 insurance ads. Meanwhile, beer brands have run about 7,000 minutes per year, versus insurance companies' 109,297 minutes, according to iSpot.
The switchover began in the late 1990s, when Aflac hired Kaplan Thaler Group to come up with a new campaign, and the result was the famous duck saying “Aflac.” Over the past 20 years, Aflac’s stock price has more than tripled.
Aflac, which spent less than $100 million on advertising in 2021, according to Media Radar, is positioned against Geico, Progressive, State Farm, Allstate and Liberty Mutual which all had budgets around $1 billion or more in 2020, according to S&P Global.
In the aughts, Geico pioneered the use of multiple campaigns, including the Geico Gecko, Maxwell the Pig, the Geico Caveman and the star-studded “Real service, real savings” effort.. Geico’s current ads feature the Geico Gecko interspersed with ads such as one featuring a couple who live in a stage apartment with a live audience and and overscheduled Western gunmen.
Progressive has featured multiple campaigns since at least 2017, when it introduced the Dr. Rick character. Liberty Mutual also has recently introduced the Doug character and has another ad starring a struggling actor.
Some brand consultants applauded the multi-campaign approach.
"I don't see why in an age of rabid multitasking, doing this should be taboo,” said Drew Kerr, founder and president of Four Corners Communications. “I am surprised it didn't happen sooner. It's different sides of the same coin. As I like to say, there are many doors into the same house -- why not try them all?"
Dean Crutchfield of Crutchfield & Partners said those advertisers are trying to humanize insurance by using wit and humor, to “get a halo around those multiple campaigns that, in a sense, show more personality [from] the brand.”