What Did Flo Look Like In Grade School?

Progressive Tells us in Latest Commercial, Which Turns Back Time on the Spokeswoman

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In recent months, Progressive's Flo has stood in the rain, fixed a sink, and even fallen in love - in cartoon form. She is pretty much everywhere.

So what's left? Well, grade school.

The insurance company's latest ad flashes back to Flo's formative years. Back then, she was just as perky and exhibited an early love for discounts, as we witness when an 11-year old version of the spokeswoman rails against the "recent increase in cafeteria prices" while running for class president in the 1980s.

In ad years, Flo is six. Progressive launched her as the centerpiece of the company's marketing in 2008. Are you sick of her yet? Or do you want more?

Progressive seems to think they can keep reviving her in all manner of ways for the unforseeable future. "As long as we keep her fresh and relevant which we are really doing, as is showing in the results ... she could go on for a long, long time," said Jeff Charney, Progressive's chief marketing officer. The flashback ad -- which seems primed to be extended with more backstories -- is one of "many, many bag of tricks that we have," Mr. Charney said.

The new spot, by Arnold Worldwide, will debut Monday. Young Flo is played by 11-year-old Aubrey Miller, a California resident who got the gig after beating some 100 other actresses who interviewed for the role. Progressive plans extend the campaign on its Facebook page, which will be populated with shots of young Flo, like her yearbook shot. The actress who plays the adult Flo, Stephanie Courtney, makes a cameo at the end of the TV ad, appearing as a teacher.

As the insurer creates new Flo storylines, it has also been busy developing other campaigns that don't' involve her.

Earlier this month, Progressive introduced the "rate suckers" in an ad directed by Zombieland's Ruben Fleischer that promotes the insurer's "snapshot" drive-tracking device. Late last year, the company tried to make a star out of a cardboard box. And "The Messenger" debuted a few years back, although that character seems to be getting less play on TV of late.

Flo is "at the top of her game right now," according to Mr. Charney. But she "can't carry all the weight ... and that's where some brands make the mistake. They do run their characters too thin."

And there is plenty of weight to carry. Progressive is a big spender. It's the nation's 43rd-largest U.S. advertiser, shelling out $867 million in 2011, according to the latest figures from the Ad Age Data Center.

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