Progressive Insurance #FloBron Campaign Meets With Mixed Response

The financial services company has sparked serious discussion with what seems to have been intended as a lighthearted effort.

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In an effort that, at least according to several commenters, has been completely misunderstood, Progressive has combined the King of Sports (LeBron James) with the Queen of Marketing (Flo from Progressive) that has the two switching places.

In alignment with the brand’s ongoing effort to convince people to make the switch to Progressive, the brand has launched The Switch, a digital effort that will, over the course of several weeks, have LeBron James and Flo change places with each other.

According to Progressive Insurance Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Charney:

[blockquote]“We’ve paired the King of Sports, LeBron James, with the Queen of Marketing, Flo, for a unique, digital-first execution we’re calling ‘The Switch.’”[/blockquote]

That switch has involved a bit of cross dressing, which kicked off with James donning a wig, taking on a “FloBron” persona and posting pictures of himself on his Facebook page on Halloween.

James’ post has received quite a bit of play with 18,626 shares to date. The campaign then continued on Progressive’s Instagram page:

[instagram]http://instagram.com/p/u586JgpVsE/embed/[/instagram]

[instagram]http://instagram.com/p/u3SzgEJVh-/embed/[/instagram]

This week, the brand plans to release an Instagram video of FloBron taking on Flo in a game of one-on-one.

[instagram]http://instagram.com/p/u_HbQ1pVt_/embed/[/instagram]

Progressive is also promoting the effort with sponsored content on Instagram:

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Only in its infancy, the campaign has already sparked a bit of an outcry which has bypassed the seemingly light-hearted intention of the campaign and gone straight to the race card. One Instagram commenter, generalsdaughter, questioned the campaign’s concept, writing:

[blockquote]There were absolutely NO OTHER CONCEPTS that could have been shot for this ad? It just HAD to come down to a black male athlete in drag?  #agenda #emasculation #itsinthecontract[/blockquote]

On the other hand, another commenter, brittney.montana thinks people are over-reacting and posted:

[blockquote]Or maybe it’s bc the campaign started on f*cking HALLOWEEN, where people dress COSTUMES as OTHER PEOPLE. Why is this world so sh*tty that something as simple as LeBron wearing a wig on/for Halloween just absolutely has to be some hidden agenda created from hate & homophobia and racism. Everything in the world isn’t evil get a f*cking grip.[/blockquote]

And finally, bclassic_photography appealed to the marketers’ sensibilities, writing:

[blockquote]Pls stop posting ads like these and designing these types of ads promoting black men being feminine. Honestly, men altogether. I mean wtf you’ll have plenty of budget to think of something more creative than having this great grown black male athlete dressed wearing that bum ass wig[/blockquote]

Not everyone is a hater, though. This Twitter user, Michael Gregal, is having a great time with FloBron and Flo cutouts and thinks the whole thing is a great opportunity for Progressive and James:

Reactions aside, the brand plans to continue with the campaign, releasing “digital breadcrumbs” over the course of the next several weeks. Will we see Flo don Black Face? Ouch! Let’s hope not.


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About the author

Steve Hall
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Steve Hall is a marketing professional, publisher, writer, community manager, photographer and all-around lover of advertising.

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