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  • Writer's pictureJeff Smith


Working on a new content segment where I break down why an ad works or not directed CIL Digital to a dreadful YouTube search for insurance commercials. The ‘Flo’ character was born in 2008. Seriously, how did this bullshit last for eleven years? Stephanie Courtney, the actress who plays Flo is earning a million dollars a year for those commercials that we all skip, ignore, or never even see. Right? Well, that is what I thought too. The Internet is a weird place. While doing research for this article the one thing that struck me was the insane view counts for these videos. Progressive’s YouTube channel has 24k subscribers & their “Blind Date” ad has over 6.6 million views.

Alright, I am very curious about their market share. Time to investigate their annual report. Again; I have asked the question, who watches these ads and thinks this must be my new insurance company? In 2018, they sold $31 Billion in premiums, compared to $22 Billion in 2016. All of this is good enough for ‘only’ 10%, auto insurance premiums market share. *

They are currently running ads with Baker Mayfield, which were produced by a Boston based marketing agency, Arnold Worldwide. Progressive also has an in-house marketing agency (clearly), ninety6. If Flo is making a million, a name like Baker Mayfield is making at least that. An in-house production company & an outside company, ‘just’ for their 30 second ads.

So many things to unpack here. First, never be afraid to invest in your brand. Content, content, content. The insurance world is an unbelievable money grab. On the technical side, these ads are softer, brand-awareness ads with minimal call-to-actions. Hell, they rarely have anything to do with insurance.

I’m not sure who to credit with starting the comedic trend of auto insurance commercials, but they are absolutely playing to their audience. Main St. America loves Mayhem, Flo & State Farm. Allstate has 41k subscribers with their “Mayhem” commercials showcasing millions of views. State Farm, with Aaron Rodgers, had 170k subscribers and a ton of views as well.

As for that digital General & Shaq? How are they spending so much money insuring the uninsurable? They belong to parent company PGC, or American Family Insurance. Which, if you refer to the link below, is the 9th largest national insurance company. My honest response to their YouTube numbers won’t make this blog… Their channel ‘only’ has 8k subscribers, but their views are off the charts. Shaq doing Karate with that freaking General gets 8.5 million views.

Clearly the national insurance world is following a consistent formula & spending a lot of money doing it. CIL has tried to convince local insurance companies to market like them, with no success. This isn’t an attempt to solicit & we don’t represent any insurance companies. We just think this world is fascinating. For the content we are creating & new projects we are working on, these ads came to mind instantly. We want our chunk of that marketing money. As an entrepreneur, and someone who frequents Boston, seeing a Boston firm working on the Progressive ads is such an incredibly motivating fact to uncover. Time to look into Arnold Worldwide.


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