Mar 13, 2010 Updated 3 months ago
Early in 2010 Progressive Insurance conducted a national search for an assistant to help “Flo,” its bubbly and lovable television advertising personality. The search for “a friendly hard-worker who has a passion for insurance” has generated hundreds of applicants and video clips. It is also producing promotion and marketing dividends that might inspire similar campaigns by other advertisers.
AMC conducted a similar nationwide video contest to choose characters for walk-on appearances in the 2010 Mad Men TV series. It’s all mindful of American Idol’s practice of engaging the public to find its stars.
The Insurance Chick
Backed by some clever scriptwriting, Flo has been rising to iconic status in the ad world since beginning the Progressive commercials in 2008. She portrays a cashier for the Progressive insurance store, interfacing with customers while wearing a white uniform and blue leisure shoes. She's known as "the insurance chick," not a bad nickname for a 40-year-old lady.
Besides the millions who have seen her television and website ads, Flo has attracted thousands of fans on social networks such as Facebook. She has won critical acclaim as well.
Chris Garcia of the Austin American-Statesman described her this way:
“She’s bubbly and beaming, high-volume, with a flip of dark hair and a face like a lollipop. She irks as she endears, bemuses as she bewitches. She a bundle of energetic contradictions, bursting here, retracting there. Her expressions blink and change like a neon sign. Her eyes are popping globes.”
And as she
says about her own role: “Nobody is naturally that perky! They'd strain something.”
Stephanie Courtney of Stony Point
“Flo” is really:
- Stephanie Courtney
- A native of Stony Point, New York
- An actress and comedienne born in February 1970
- A member of the Groundlings Theater in Los Angeles, where she performs in sketch and improv shows
- The wife, since November 2008, of Scott Kolanach, the lighting manager for the Groundlings Theater
- A lady who is probably much richer today than she was at the start of 2008.
Auditions in Los Angeles, New York and Miami Beach
In its campaign to find an “assistant” for “Flo,” Progressive has conducted auditions in New York City, Miami Beach and Los Angeles. It has also invited applicants to submit audition videos on YouTube.
The company, based in Mayfield Village, Ohio, says the winner of the competition will be “the next Progressive Insurance Superstore ‘employee’ to appear in a national ad with Flo.
Progressive has not expanded on what role the winner will play on the show or whether he or she will appear on more than one commercial.
In any case, it will be difficult for any of the applicants to match the enthusiasm and “passion” that Flo displays in the commercials.
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