Flo (Progressive Insurance)

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Flo is a fictional saleswoman character appearing in more than 1,000 advertisements for Progressive Insurance since 2008. Portrayed by actress and comedian Stephanie Courtney, the character has developed a fan base on social networks and has become an iconic advertising mascot.[1][2][3]

Flo, as portrayed by actress Stephanie Courtney
First appearance2008
Created byArnold Worldwide
Portrayed byStephanie Courtney
CompanyProgressive Corporation
In-universe information
AliasThe Progressive Girl
OccupationInsurance salesperson

Broadcast history edit

The character debuted in 2008 through several television advertisements and has since appeared in radio, print, and web banners. The fictional upbeat store employee of Progressive Corporation was created by copywriter John Park and art director Steve Reepmeyer,[4] at the Boston-based agency Arnold Worldwide.[5] Flo has appeared in more than 1,000 advertisements.

In 2011, Progressive introduced Flo's Australian counterpart, Kitty,[6] played by Holly Austin.[7] In 2014, other recurring characters were added to the advertisements. Jim Cashman plays Jamie, Flo's sidekick. In 2020, another Progressive employee was added, Mara, portrayed by Natalie Palamides.

Overview edit

Flo is a cashier and is recognizable by her extremely upbeat personality, brilliant white uniform, heavy makeup, and retro hairstyle. According to Courtney, it takes one hour to prepare Flo's hair and another to apply her make-up.[8] Referring to her work in The Groundlings, she said, "Flo could be one of my improv characters, always on and sort of cracked in a weird way."[9] She thinks that the GEICO gecko "puts out more sexual vibes than Flo does".[10]

In November 2014, Progressive aired its 100th advertisement featuring Flo and introduced other members of her family including her mother, father, brother, sister, and grandfather. All of these characters were also played by Courtney, who was reported to have spent about 12 hours doing hair and makeup transitions for the recording.[11]

Reception edit

In October 2009, the Boston Herald referred to Flo as "the commercial break's new sweetheart" and said Courtney was "attaining TV ad icon status". The same article also reported that she was the subject of a popular Halloween costume. There are multiple websites and social media groups that are either dedicated to or talking about her.[12] The volume of commercials and the type of humor is off-putting to others, described as "love her or hate her" or "badvertising".[13][14]

Advertising Age described Flo as "a weirdly sincere, post-modern Josephine the Plumber who just really wants to help. She has; the brand is flourishing."[15] This was later echoed in an article from Duane Dudek in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 20, 2014, who credits Flo for inspiring a new trend of female commercial pitch people and cementing her legacy alongside Josephine and Palmolive Dishwashing Detergent's Madge the Manicurist.[16]

Flo was added as a downloadable character in the video game ModNation Racers in late 2010, complete with her own Progressive kart.[17][18]

References edit

  1. ^ Garcia, Chris (October 20, 2008). "The Strange Allure of the Progressive Insurance Girl". Austin American-Statesman. ISSN 1553-8451. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  2. ^ Inman, David (December 14, 2008). "TV Q&A with David Inman". Boston Herald. ISSN 0738-5854. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  3. ^ Scholer, Makeli (September 2, 2009). "Who is This Girl in Progressive Insurance TV Commercials?". AMS Insurance.
  4. ^ "Check Out". Brickyard VFX. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  5. ^ Staff (2011). "Progressive". Arnold Worldwide. Archived from the original on September 18, 2010. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  6. ^ Staff (2012). "Home". Australia: Progressive Direct Insurance Company. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  7. ^ Biography for Holly Austin at IMDb
  8. ^ Parsley, Aaron (September 2, 2009). "5 Things to Know About TV's Progressive Insurance Lady". People. ISSN 0093-7673. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  9. ^ Chris (October 5, 2017). "The strange allure of the Progressive Insurance girl". Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  10. ^ "Progressive Girl Has Strange Pull On WSB-TV Channel 2 Viewers". Atlanta, Georgia: WSB-TV. December 2, 2008. Archived from the original on November 1, 2012. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  11. ^ Ashley Rodriguez (November 12, 2014). "Flo's Progressive Evolution". Advertising Age. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  12. ^ Falcone, Lauren Beckham (October 7, 2009). "Insurance pitchgirl a surprise TV hit". Boston Herald. ISSN 0738-5854. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  13. ^ "I Hate Progressive Insurance For Waking Me Up Over And Over". Consumerist. October 24, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  14. ^ "Progressive Insurance Commercial Hate". Commercialhate.blogspot.com. January 30, 2009. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  15. ^ Garfield, Bob (December 15, 2008). "The Bobby Awards". Advertising Age. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  16. ^ Dudek, Duane (May 20, 2014). "Progressive's Flo extends a spokeswoman tradition that goes back to Josephine the Plumber". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Dudek Abides Blog.
  17. ^ Coker, Jason (October 4, 2010). "ModNation Monday: Free Mod, 'Family Guy' Spotlight Next Week!". PlayStation.Blog (Sony Computer Entertainment America). Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  18. ^ Russell, Ramone (November 15, 2010). "ModNation Monday: Carnival Parts Pack and 'Free' Progressive Kart next week!". PlayStation.Blog (Sony Computer Entertainment America). Retrieved June 2, 2012.

External links edit