Progressive Insurance, “Flo”: A light tone can do wonders. Director Brendan Gibbons‘ work for Progressive helps propel the brand to “10 Most Compelling Ad Campaigns of the Decade.”

How do you make something as inherently dull as automobile insure feel fresh and interesting? Geico has had a talking Gecko for years and State Farm has used an authoritative, moralistic voice narrating dire situations, but Progressive took a different route — Casting stand-up comedian Stephanie Courtney as an over-the-top, overly made-up, bubbly sales assistant named Flo. The ad grabbed viewers’ attention with a similar trick to the “Get a Mac” ads, where one attribute of Progressive was divulged in a sitcom-y situation with Flo leaving the audience with a zinger comment.

The insight that made Progressive’s commercial such a hit was in understanding the public perception of insurance companies as tiring, bureaucratic, and humorless. By upending this notion, Progressive set itself apart from its competition and now has the most popular advertising campaign in the insurance market.

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