Monday, November 21, 2016

Progressive Flounders in Parentamorphosis




Progressive Insurance, known primarily for its auto insurance and long-time auto insurance spokesperson "Flo" has now turned its attention and ad dollars to Millennial home ownership insurance.

Two ads created by Arnold and directed by Roman Coppola are planned to air over the Thanksgiving weekend. The two share some of the dark production undertones of dim lighting, darker sets, and  eerie music track to recreate a Coppola-cover of David Lynch's movie Blue Velvet and TV series: Twin Peaks.

The setup is the same for both ads: a couple with a new home where one of the two has, in essence "become"one of their parents. The "twist" is the Millennial woman becomes her father and adopts not just his lame sayings but his dress, his demeanour and his childlike approach (giving the husband nuggies) to her male partner. The Millennial male of the other couple in the second ad becomes his mother with extremely feminine traits in both speech, mannerisms and actions which even on the Millennial-Hipster level seems off the charts here. This twist vampires the ads. But I don't think Mr. Charney or his agency, Arnold can see that. From my point of view, both of these people who have become their opposite gender parent seem more like closeted gays or trans-genders, trapped in a rigid heterosexual relationship.... which Progressive and Arnold have chosen to put a spin on and call the behaviour : "Parentamorphosis."

Jeff Charney, the head of marketing at Progressive who made his name with the 'Flomercials' seems
anxious to once again be putting his thumbprint on the creative by again coining new expressions as he has done with the 'Flomercial' series.

One thing Mr. Charney is not, is a Millennial. And one sure fact about Millennial's is they don't take kindly to any form of behavioural scrutiny.

The other bad news for these two ads is the copy that tries to segue into selling Progressive for home insurance is really just a throw away one liner in both spots. Plus it is treated as such an afterthought it seems a force fit within the context of both the acting and the premise of these ads.

Insurance is a very difficult category. They are boring products that everyone begrudgingly resents having to  pay for over and over again,  with no real sense of ever seeing any benefit from the endless payouts. Second they are highly regulated. So what you can say and do and show about the products themselves is extremely limited. And most if not all insurance products are virtually the same.  So insurance companies have almost no way to differentiate themselves except by trying to create bizarre characters or famous spokespeople or animated mascots or crazy situations that when done over and over enough times,  insurers hope people will associate with their brand name.

So for creatives that work on insurance, the creative pressure is immense.
But so is the payout.

Progressive is a fat account. And Mr. Charney holds the purse strings and final say in the creative.
Because of the level of difficulty in carving out a memorable place within an over crowded market,
these categories test to death. But even with a 'Label' director (Roman Coppola) at a 'Designer' price bringing his David Lynch cover mixed with the trans-gender Millennial parent identities it doesn't work. It's like a vinegar and oil dressing that just refuses to combine no matter how much you shake it.

But perhaps Mr. Charney has a sequel in mind? He certainly has done many of those with 'Flo'... imagine both the 'Parentamorphosis' spouses 'come out' and finds a kindred spirit,  purchases yet another house with yet another need for house insurance....cue the music....

Now that would be Progressive.