Gay Advertisement #10: Is This Progressive Insurance Commercial Gay?

Progressive Insurance has aired this commercial as part of its robust television ad platform featuring Flo the cashier on a variety of mainstream networks.  I recently saw the commercial while watching television with a friend and commented on how progressive (pun intended) the insurance company is with their ad campaigns by featuring a gay couple.  My straight friend retorted flatly, “They’re not gay.  What about them says they’re gay?  They’re just two friends.”

With this ad, Progressive has used a technique first identified by journalist Michael Wilke in Ad Age in 1997 called “gay vague.”  The ad appeals to gay consumers by featuring a couple who, to homosexuals like myself, appear to be gay.  However, the reference is vague enough that it doesn’t turn off the company’s heterosexual customers.

As it turns out, Progressive didn’t intend for the commercial to be gay at all.  In case you missed my article in Echelon magazine this week (pages 24 & 25), I reviewed Progressive’s new Faces of Pride campaign.  That article was written based on Echelon editor-in-chief Michael Lamb’s notes from an interview with Progressive Advertising Director Miriam Deitcher.  When asked about the commercial, Deitcher replied, “We got feedback from people who think the characters are gay.  We understand that. We were just trying to set up two friends; one has to sell a watch because he was low on money. We were comfortable with the way it turned out.”

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3 responses to “Gay Advertisement #10: Is This Progressive Insurance Commercial Gay?

  1. What about the ambiguously gay co-workers from the competing insurance company? Not so ambiguous if you ask me.

  2. oh, come on. They are definately gay. The rainbow shirt. You can even tell the director said “make sure to be flamoyant”

  3. Hard to find too much on this, as so much is in conservative blogs, but my take, as a straight old broad who’s LGBTIQ-supportive, is that the guy with the glasses is wearing a shirt with very thin stripes the color of the Pride flag. He might or might not be gay. And the other fellow? A friend, relative, lover, partner. Who knows?

    What led me on this google-quest wasn’t this old ad, but two from Progressive’s latest series: Flo back home with the family. Has anybody noticed that when they’re all gathered at the table, Flo’s mom (played, as with all the characters, by the brilliant Stephanie Courtney) is wearing a Gay Pride sweater? I googled this several different ways, and can’t find any reference to it, but it’s definitely true!

    In love, peace, and hope for full and true equality for all,
    Debbie Jordan
    imaginetheworldatpeace.com

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