There's one guarantee when a company mascot achieves iconic status: if the brand is demonized, she will be too. In the case of Flo, Progressive Insurance's crimson-lipped spokes-gal, she has been slammed along with the insurance firm after the brother of a policyholder who died in a car crash published a Tumblr post stating that Progressive "refused to pay the policy to my sister's estate."
But Progressive is sticking by its bouffant-wearing babe and backing her with a significant Facebook ad buy today. When users log out of their Facebook accounts, they'll see an ad featuring Flo and her price gun. "Try our Name your Price tool to start saving today," notes the post associated with the large ad image.
The ad links to the Flo the Progressive Girl page on Facebook, where the most recent post was made August 13, the day comedian Matt Fisher published an anti-Progressive post on his Tumblr, titled, "My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court."
Like most of Flo's Facebook and Twitter comments, the last post from Flo on Facebook was fairly innocuous: "Is it possible to have déjà vu of déjà vu?" An accompanying photo of Flo featured the hashtag #FloWonders, which since has been used in Twitter posts ridiculing the company.
Since Fisher's post went viral, hundreds of people reportedly claimed to have dropped Progressive, many saying so on Twitter.
However, the Facebook ads seem to be counteracting some of the negativity. In the past couple hours, Flo's Facebook page grabbed around 1,800 additional likes, presumably as a result of the logout page ad.
A variety of brands have used the Facebook logout ad option - which features a much larger image than other Facebook ad units - including Procter & Gamble's Swiffer, Ford Mustang, Subway, and Samsung.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
March 19, 2014