Progressive’s Strong Branding Makes a Personal Connection
Love her or hate her, you have to admit that "Flo" — the pitch woman for Progressive Insurance — is almost impossible to ignore. She's been the star of the company's TV and radio ads since 2008. And, since 2011, a direct mail package heavily featuring her smiling face has been driving traffic to the company's website and telephone representatives. This piece is one of the latest Grand Control mailings tracked exclusively by Who's Mailing What!
Along with the GEICO gecko, quirky Flo's popularity is proof of how the car insurance marketplace has been transformed by branding in recent years. Clad in her trademark white shirt and apron, Flo (played by Stephanie Courtney) adorns both sides of the white 6˝ x 9˝ envelope. The teaser copy on both sides is in only two colors, the company's signature orange and blue. Like most other car insurance efforts, there are only a few components inside: a 1-page letter and a buckslip.
The most eye-catching element of the mailer is the personalized name card, exactly like the one worn by Flo in the TV commercials. Tipped to the letter and showing through an extra window on the front of the envelope, it's teased as "a big, tricked out insurance savings card." Unlike those mailed by other marketers, it only uses the prospect's first name. The call to action on the back of the card is simple: call the toll-free number or go online to see how much money can be saved.
Across the auto insurance industry, the previously dominant agent-centered model of selling auto policies has been largely replaced by the direct sales channel. Despite the ease and convenience of calling a toll-free number, or typing in a website address, the human element remains. Here, the letter's Johnson Box puts the customer firmly in the driver's seat: "Let us help you save on your car insurance." Prospects who reach out to Progressive get "personalized coverage, so you only pay for the insurance you need."
The buckslip continues the theme — personal guidance in saving money — while promoting the bundling of other types of insurance offered by the carrier. "Flo knows how to SAVE — in MORE ways than one!" it boasts. She is Progressive personified, again recalling the TV ads with an image showing her carrying a shopping basket with insurance packages inside.
Other important selling points — price and service — are pushed just as they are by other insurance providers. "You could save over $519 per year" one heading in the letter promises. "You'll get extras that don't cost extra," says another, noting 24/7 access to one's policy, "unparalleled claims service," and even pet protection in car accidents.
The three-years-and running success of this mailing — how it marries a strong brand personality to a traditional direct mail campaign — has been a powerful contributor to the growth of Progressive's bottom line. It is now the fourth-largest insurer in the country.
Paul Bobnak is the director of research at Who's Mailing What!, which houses the most complete, searchable (and fully online) library of direct mail and mail in the world. To learn more about joining, go to www.whosmailingwhat.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.