Arnell Spots Reposition Progressive

Arnell Group Brand Consulting’s first work for Progressive Auto Insurance repositions the client as friendly and helpful and introduces a new tagline, “Be Progressive.”
The New York shop’s spots, backed by Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” are shot through a car windshield from the driver’s perspective. Floating along the road ahead are captions in the form of road signs that deliver Progressive’s selling points: “Immediate Response Vehicles,” “Big Savings,” and so on.
Each spot is regional in flavor, featuring, for example, the Golden Gate Bridge, Beverly Hills and a Pacific Ocean drive. The strategy is to tailor ads to the markets they appear in, principal Peter Arnell said. The initial batch broke last week in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Arnell plans to shoot more spots in other parts of the country.
The Cleveland-based company’s previous advertising, from Publicis & Hal Riney in Chicago, focused on lower rates and fast service with the line, “Not what you’d expect from an insurance company.” Arnell landed the account in August without a review.
With the new effort, “we wanted to convince [consumers] that there’s a company out there that’s doing something different” than category leaders State Farm and Allstate, said Bob McMillan, the client’s director of consumer marketing.
Progressive, for example, responds to accident reports within two hours in specially marked cars with wireless radios, laptops and printers.
The campaign is backed by eight radio spots and a dozen bus posters. Progressive spent $17 million on media through August and expects to spend $30-40 million next year– triple what it spent in 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
The campaign preludes the client’s national coming-out party: Super Bowl XXXIII. Progressive will sponsor the halftime show; Arnell will create a 60-second spot that will precede it. McMillan declined to discuss the deal, but sources said Progressive paid $5 million to become a National Football League sponsor, which includes ads during the playoffs and other tie-ins.