Progressive Insurance is launching two new spots today that put fictitious life coach Dr. Rick in a crowded airport and shopping mall where he helps consumers come out of lockdown—without becoming their parents. The new push targets young adults who might have fallen prey to “Parentamorphosis” during the pandemic.
“We saw the return to places like malls and airports as the perfect settings to showcase the campaign's relevance and extendibility," says Jeff Charney, Progressive's chief marketing officer.
In the airport spot, the “doctor” suggests the use of virtual boarding passes as opposed to paper tickets, and offers crucial reminders such as, "We’re not going to point out our houses, landmarks or major highways during takeoff." In the mall video, he chides a man about to purchase a shirt strikingly similar to the one he is already wearing: “Think a second … have we seen this shirt before?”
Dr. Rick also confiscates a freezer bag of tinfoil-wrapped snacks at the airport, offering a curt “nope” when one woman suggests they skip the airport kiosk selling chips and trail mix. He also reminds shoppers to not “ask for discounts on floor models, demos, or displays” before declaring: “Shopping malls can be a big trigger for young homeowners turning into their parents.”
“We also know that Parentamorphosis doesn't just happen in a home—it happens anywhere and everywhere," says Charney. "Seeing Dr. Rick 'outside' in places where young homeowners find themselves turning into their parents has always been the plan; we've just been waiting for the right moment and believe now is the time to do that."
Dr. Rick was introduced at the beginning of the pandemic, a risky move at the time, Charney told Ad Age earlier this month. Other companies were adopting a somber tone for spots, and Dr. Rick was decidedly unserious. Despite apprehensions, he was well received and quickly folded into Progressive’s cast of characters alongside older favorites including Flo and Jamie.
Progressive made a major investment in advertising last year, increasing spending by approximately 11% and growing revenue 9% to nearly $43 billion. In May, Progressive saw total policies grow 11% compared to the year-earlier period. The insurance industry as a whole is strong—Allstate increased revenue for the first quarter of 2021 by 26.2% compared to the year-earlier period, according to its Q1 report. Rival State Farm had a rockier 2020—profits fell 33.1%— but held on to its title as the nation’s largest auto insurer, according to Forbes.
“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that pure marketing speed is not enough," Charney says. "It’s strategically led speed and not taking a 'one size fits all' approach that will ultimately win out."