Progressive is an American insurance company known for their television commercials, which often star an enthusiastic, quirky cashier named Flo (played by Groundlings alumna Stephanie Courtney) and her group of friends, who all like to explain the benefits of Progressive's insurance and the products it comes with, such as the Name Your Price tool.
Not all of Progressive's commercials feature Flo and her friends; there have been other characters featured in these ads, too. For example, in 2012, they introduced an anthropomorphic Auto Insurance Box representing the company's products as another mascot. Flo is their most well-known and most often used mascot, however.
Progressive's commercials provide examples of the following tropes:
- The Ace: Jamie. He's married to a model, lives in a mansion, can play Spanish guitar and sing beautifully, dance ballet good enough to be the lead danseur, knows how to dogsled, is a tattoo artist and lawyer (only licensed in Sweden), won a Japanese game show, fights Muay Thai professionally, won a soccer championship, and is a DJ and horse breeder. And that's just from two commercials.
- Acting for Two: The ads featuring Flo's family have Stephanie Courtney playing every member, even the male ones.
- Animate Inanimate Object: The Auto Insurance Box character introduced in 2012 is an anthropomorphic version of the Progressive insurance boxes that are seen in the aisles of the Progressive store in Flo's ads.
- Breakout Character: Jamie, Flo's assistant, got so popular that he has many ads focused on him (sometimes solely).
- Burn the Witch!: In one ad, one of Flo's ancestors is about to be burned at a stake when she's accused of witchcraft trying to sell the Name Your Price tool.
- Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: Flo describes bundling home and auto insurance to a child in such a way that it resembles sex. The child's mother covers his ears as a result of this.
- Crappy Carnival: One commercial begins as an ad for a fake insurance-themed theme park, Progressive Park, with rides such as the "Traffic Jam" (a very slow-moving roller coaster), and "never-bump" bumper cars (there's only one car in the entire arena). Cue a smash cut to Flo and the gang in an empty parking lot, contemplating over whether an insurance-themed amusement park was a good idea in the first place.
- Creepy Monotone: In one ad, Flo leads a group of agents out of a cornfield to tell a homeowner he's saving by bundling...but they do it in this sort of voice, eventually in unison, freaking them out.
- Crossover: Sonic the Hedgehog visits Flo and Jaime in the Progressive store in one of the ads.
- Deliberately Monochrome: This ad, which is made to look like a black-and-white commercial from the 1950's.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- One ad talked about the bonuses for people who stayed with Progressive, and the rival company apparently gives customers a calendar as a prize, featuring one insurance man laying on the cover somewhat suggestively. One of the guys says, "You should see November" and Flo replies very seductively, "Oh, yeah?"
- The "Peer Pressure" ad, which features Flo in a dark alley handing out free insurance as if it were a drug. The customer even says, "My insurance agent told me not to talk to people like you!" and the tagline is, "Buy Progressive today... no pressure." This is pretty risky when you consider it aired midday on Cartoon Network!
- Yet another one of the ads has Flo describe bundling home and auto insurance to a child. The catch? It's made to look like she's explaining how sex works to the child, complete with some imagery of a car going into a garage, which is obviously meant to resemble, uh, something else. That clip of the car and the garage even has some sexy music playing over it.
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Flo was once shown as the band manager for The Dizzcounts, whose members are Safe Driver, Paperless, Paid in Full, Multi-Car, and Joey Fatone.
- Less Embarrassing Term: One ad has Flo telling a couple that Progressive can compare its rate with those of other top companies, thereby sparing them from spending all day shopping around to compare.Flo: [to husband] And no more holding her purse!
Wife: [irritated] It's a European shoulder bag.
Husband: [sheepish] It Was a Gift. [rolls eyes to indicate wife]
- Mistaken for Pregnant: In one commercial, Progressive employee Jake makes bad "bundle" jokes (and puts a dollar into a jar for each such joke he makes). One of them is him telling a woman she'd have two bundles of joy, to which she says she isn't pregnant, making Jake walk off awkwardly.
- Mistaken for Servant: One ad is the title sequence for a Rom Com titled "Maid to Order", whose Expository Theme Song assumes Flo is the "wacky new maid", despite her objections.Singer: She's not the maid we wanted...
Flo: Because I'm not the maid!
Singer: But she's the one we've got.
Flo: Again, I'm not the maid! I protect your home and auto!
Neighbor: Hey, Campbells. Who's the new maid?
- Motorcycle Dominoes: In one ad, a strawman competitor to Progressive knocks over a motorcycle. Flo says "It's not like bikers love their bikes more than life itself. I doubt anyone will notice." Cue big, burly, angry biker.
- On Ice: Spoofed on the "Progressive On Ice" ad.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: In the Sonic the Hedgehog crossover ad, Sonic the Hedgehog is animated in CGI while the Progressive characters remain live-action.
- Scooby Stack: One ad references classic sitcom openings with a family who has hired Flo as their maid. At one point the family does a stack like this to look around a door and into the kitchen.
- One of the ads has Flo and Jaime watching a game show called "Smart Off", which is a pretty blatant parody of Jeopardy! right down to the set resembling that of said game show.
- One ad is half this and half Take That! to Chevrolet's "Real People, Not Actors" series of commercials, where the spokesperson surprises a group of people by opening doors and moving stuff. This one has Jamie react in an over-the-top manner to every one of the moves, and starts "Real Actors, Not People."
- The Swear Jar: One ad had Jake put a dollar into a jar for every bad "bundle" joke he made. Good thing, too, because the "bundle" jokes get worse and worse.
- The Talk: Parodied in one of the commercials. Flo explains to a child what happens when you bundle home and auto insurance in a way that makes it look a lot like sex, complete with sexy background music and a horrified mother holding her son's ears shut. Flo even asks if she'd rather the kid "learned it on the streets".
- Totally Radical: An inversion. Flo tries helping out an elderly customer who uses outdated slang from the mid-20th century. Needless to say, she has no idea what he's talking about.
- Trivially Obvious: A critic's blurb on the "Progressive On Ice" ad reads "I had the whole row to myself."
- Waving Signs Around: One of their semi-regular campaigns involves a guy with a sign which reads that drivers who save with Progressive save over $750 on average. In one ad he finds himself standing next to another guy who's advertising condos who says that people will look at his condo sign because the insurance sign is pointing at it. So the Progressive guy flips his sign around so it's pointing in the opposite direction.
- What Were They Selling Again?:
- The ads usually avert this by having the characters explain the tools they offer in the ads, but there's a few that lean more towards being 30-second sketches that just briefly mention an insurance gimmick. For example, there's an ad where some stereotypical office characters discuss how generic they are, only briefly mentioning that they want Progressive's Name Your Price tool without explaining why.
- The "sign" commercials just have a guy with a sign that says "Drivers who save with Progressive save over $750 on avg." and don't really explain anything other than that.
- White Void Room: The Progressive store, being an almost entirely white room on the inside, resembles one.
- You're Not My Father: A teenager yells this at Jamie in one ad where he gives the mistaken impression that he's marrying his mom (when he's really just selling her homeowner's insurance).