Let’s be clear: The Flo ads are “meh”. Neither positive or negative.
Personally, I scramble to change the channel or hit MUTE once I see them come on, but I can also respect the fact that they have clearly been effective ads. Flo, as a branded character, has somehow caught on as an American meme.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the ads are effective and actually moving any insurance – but let’s move on.
I give props to a specific ad from the Flo campaign – the one where they appealed to the gay demographic.
In the ad, you’ll notice the effeminate man (presumably the bottom) is wearing a rainbow shirt. This is something that would go right over most straight folks heads, but it certainly has the effect of rewarding the gay viewer by saying, Hey eagle-eyed gay man: Since you must have car insurance, you might as well buy it from the people who put a couple fellow gay guys in this here commercial.
In a recent Slate article, the brass at Progressive claimed the gay vibe in the ad was unintentional.
In the highly competitive car insurance market, appealing directly to the gay demo was stroke of genius. Regardless of the truth, by claiming it was unintentional (essentially playing the “don’t ask / don’t tell” card) they’ve retained the anti-gay zealot customers they have too.