Throughout the years, we have seen many mascots come and go. Only a handful have withstood the test of time. One such mascot, Flo the Progressive Girl, has graced us with her perky presence for seven years now, and does not falter. Why is it that she sits upon the dais with Mickey and Ronald McDonald, while other mascots are cast into oblivion? What affects the life of a mascot? Lets learn through the history of Flo.
Recall the first Progressive Insurance commercials featuring Flo. She began as a sassy cashier, but she has since stepped outside her original role. This is one of the key attributes to her success. Instead of releasing the same content over and over, Progressive decided to change her surroundings. Think about it, when we are exposed to the same slogans, voices, settings, and styles, we grow tired and begin to view the branding experience as repetitive and boring. How many times can we hear the Taco Bell say “Yo quiero Taco Bell” dog before we are driven mad?
Although mascots help us to associate with brands, they can also cause us to grow tired of brand messages. That is why the majority of mascots are pulled once consumer interest turns sour. No brand wants to be seen as uncreative or unoriginal.
Flo’s journey certainly had its low points. In fact, many business experts expected Progressive’s Flo character to be discontinued in 2011 or 2012. Progressive CMO, Jeff Charney, referred to the declining popularity of Flo at this time as “Flo-Fatigue.” It was felt that Flo commercials had become unoriginal.
One article from Business Insider titled “Here’s the Evidence that Progressive is about to Kill Flo,” discussed the bleak future of Flo. At one point, the article states, “There is one very real threat to Flo. Progressive has used Flo since 2008, so she is getting old.” The article also discussed the introduction of another Progressive character, the Messenger. This character was speculated to be one of a few possible Flo replacements. However, what was unknown to the general public at the time was the true intention behind the creation of these extra characters.
In order to combat the general publics’ decreasing interest, Progressive added supporting characters, including rivals and sidekicks. The setting also changed for multiple commercials, giving viewers new experiences with the mascot and brand.
Flo has since bounced back, along with Progressive, which has seen significant growth in revenue over the past few years. In fact, the Flo Facebook page has over 5 million fans. One look at the page and we can see why. Progressive has chosen to give Flo a life of her own on social media platforms.
For example, look at her post from yesterday.
Here is another example, which has nothing to do with Progressive.
As it turns out, people care more about her than the Progressive brand. Some or her posts receive hundreds of comments and thousands of likes. Flo has become more than a mascot to push brand awareness. She has evolved into an icon. People love to see what perky, random, and comical posts will be released on her page.
Progressive has even turned November into Flovember. Yes, Flo now has her own month. During this month, progressive will be releasing Flo’s 100th ad. This ad will feature Flo’s family, which will introduce us to her backstory. The overall ad consists of five minutes of content.
We do not know what the future holds for Flo, but we know she isn’t backing down yet.