Progressive’s Perplexing New Mascot Is a Motaur: Half Man, Half Motorcycle

New work by Arnold introduces quirky character

Progressive
Meet the Motaur. Progressive
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

If they had their way, many bikers would be permanently fused to their machines, so devoted are they to hitting the open road, feeling the wind in their faces and living on the edge.

Born to be wild? Sure.

Motaur is no exception. In fact, the new character in the Progressive Insurance stable of spokespeople will never walk away from his sweet ride. Because he has no legs. He’s half-man, half-motorcycle—the steel, clutch and rubber version of the mythological Centaur.

The special-effects creation is “a powerful interpretation of the relationship motorcyclists have with their bikes, which often becomes an extension of their identity,” says Progressive CMO Jeff Charney.

He sees the campaign, breaking today, as “disruptive in all the right ways—in its quietness, its stark cinematography, its subtle and unexpected humor and its universally relatable truth,” he says.

In three spots airing on national cable TV, from agency Arnold Worldwide, Motaur stars as an adventurer long on conviction and short on words. (But when he speaks, everyone listens). In the dusty roadside scenarios, the people he meets are understandably confused by his appearance.

“Ever wish you weren’t a Motaur?” asks one fellow biker in the spot, “Wishes.”

Motaur’s considered the advantages of having a human body from the hips down, he says, but if given the option, he’d just flip his anatomy and have the motorcycle on top.

Of course, that creates an even wackier mental picture than the hybrid in front of him, but the questioner plays along, saying, “Yeah, I could see that.” Can he, though?

Another traveler (in “Do You Mind”) asks, “Do you mind being a Motaur?” The hero, who’s somehow pumped gas into his own tank, replies, “What could be better than being a Motaur? The real question is, ‘Do you mind not being a Motaur?’”

Curious kids in “Told You,” staring rudely like youngsters are wont to do, think he’s called “Motor,” but he corrects them. “It’s pronounced, “Mo-TOR.” So, like Centaur physically but not phonetically.

CGI in the ads seamlessly welds an adult man’s torso, head and arms onto a motorcycle chassis. How the whole enterprise remains upright, much less travels at high speeds, is a mystery. (A fourth spot called “Thirsty,” debuting later this year, gives a peek into what fuels Motaur the man, and it’s not a Big Gulp).

Motaur represents a departure from the ubiquitous, ongoing Progressive campaigns with pop-culture-famous Flo (both in and out of the superstore; most recently as an unwitting sitcom player), now more than 10 years strong for the brand.

The insurance giant also has the continuing “Parentamorphosis” series that has its stars telling dad jokes and capturing other ways they’ve become their parents after major life decisions like buying a home.

Charney thinks the immediately eye-catching Motaur, who he likens in an unreleased behind-the-scenes video to rugged, tough guys like Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood and Ray Donovan, shows that Progressive and Arnold “continue to out-create the category by introducing unique characters and story arcs.” Tagline: “For those who were born to ride.”

CREDITS:

Arnold Worldwide
Chief Creative Officer: Icaro Doria
Executive Creative Director: Sean McBride
Creative Directors: Michael Sullivan, Gregg Nelson
Art Director: Michael Sullivan
Copywriter: Gregg Nelson
Producer: Sean Vernaglia
Business Affairs: Danielle Ivicic
Planner: Lanna Tokuhiro
Project Manager: Brya Capell
Marketing: Val Bettini, Gail Felcher and Crissy Cavallaro

Production Company: Dummy Films
Production Company Line Producer: Michael Kanter
Director: Harold Einstein
Cinematographer: Jonathan Freeman

Editorial Company: Arcade
Editor: Dave Anderson
Sound Design/Music: Singing Serpent
VFX: The Mill


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@TLStanleyLA terry.stanley@adweek.com T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.
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