Graduated from Binghamton University, and still appears on their promotional materials.
If you’ve watched any television during the past six years, you’ve probably seen a commercial featuring Flo, Progressive Insurance’s ever present, enthusiastic cashier. Known for her all-white outfit, retro styling and perkiness, Flo was conceptualized by Boston ad agency Arnold Worldwide, and has starred in dozens of commercials since her 2008 debut.
But what is Flo’s appeal, exactly? According to Nicole LaPorte of The Daily Beast. she’s “a blast of unironic helpfulness and pleasantries in this age of snark … a tangible person and personality in an increasingly virtual world.” No matter what it is, Flo has done well for Progressive. Glenn Renwick. Progressive’s CEO, credits her with making the company “a household name.” Flo has even been replicated internationally. The Australian version is named Kitty, and has a slightly shorter haircut and a similar sense of humor.
While no advertising icon is universally beloved – especially after six years’ worth of commercials – Flo is the subject of numerous Facebook fan sites and is a popular muse on deviantART. She also has an official Facebook page – Flo, the Progressive Girl, if you’re curious – and Twitter account. Her Tweets are mostly puns or life advice, including, “Any meal can be brunch if you decide to eat pancakes.” In addition, she makes frequent appearances on Progressive’s blog, often introducing animated thank you letters from customers. And if you love Flo so much that following
her on social media simply isn’t enough, you can always dress like her. Progressive provides a printable PDF of her nametag, as well as a link to the official Flo Halloween costume – retailing for $39.99 – and video tutorials on how to imitate her hair, make-up and voice.
Considering the character’s ubiquity, it shouldn’t be surprising that “Who is Flo from Progressive?” is a frequent internet search term. Actress and comedian Stephanie Courtney has portrayed Flo since her creation. While she’s probably best known for her Progressive ads, Courtney, a New York native, is also a member of the LA-based improv troop The Groundlings. She’s appeared in episodes of Angel, House, Everybody Loves Raymond and The United States of Tara. and has had a recurring role as Marge on Mad Men. Courtney has also acted in several movies, including Blades of Glory. and voiced characters on animated shows, as well as appearing in other commercials for brands like Bud Light, Skittles and General Mills.
Courtney continues to work on outside projects. Aside from her movie and television roles, she and her sister, actress Jennifer Courtney, have written on a play called “Those Courtney Girls,” which has attracted some interest from television studios. However, while Flo continues to be a popular mascot for Progressive, Courtney will likely be associated with the brand. This is good news for those who find Flo effective, amusing or disconcertingly attractive, and those who find her perkiness too perky will have to mute their TVs.