Flo, as portrayed by actress Stephanie Courtney
|Created by||Arnold Worldwide|
|Portrayed by||Stephanie Courtney|
|Alias||The Progressive Girl|
Flo is a fictional salesperson character appearing in more than 100 commercials for Progressive Corporation, beginning in 2008. Portrayed by actress and comedian Stephanie Courtney, the character has developed a fan base on social networks and has become an iconic advertising mascot.
The character debuted in 2008 through several television commercials and has since appeared in radio and print advertisements and web banners. "Flo", an upbeat store employee for Progressive Corporation, was created by the Boston-based agency Arnold Worldwide, specifically copywriter John Park and art director Steve Reepmeyer. Some have noticed that Flo has some resemblance in style and appearance to Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, especially when she sings, ”I’ll Stand By You”- one of the band’s songs.
As of November 2014, Flo had appeared in 100 commercials.
Flo is a cashier and is recognizable by her extreme enthusiasm, name tag, sparkling white no-wrinkles uniform, upbeat personality, heavy makeup, and retro hairstyle. According to Courtney, it takes one hour to prepare Flo's hair and another to apply her make-up. A December 15, 2008 article in Advertising Age described Flo as "a weirdly sincere, post-modern Josephine the Plumber who just really wants to help. She has; the brand is flourishing." This was later echoed in an article from Duane Dudek in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 20, 2014, who credits Flo for inspiring a new trend of female commercial pitch people and cementing her legacy alongside Josephine and Palmolive Dishwashing Detergent's Madge the Manicurist.
In November 2014, Progressive aired its 100th advertisement featuring Flo and introduced other members of her family including her mother, father, brother, sister, and grandfather. All of these characters were also played by Courtney, who was reported to have spent about 12 hours doing hair and makeup transitions for the recording.
In October 2009, the Boston Herald referred to Flo as "the commercial break's new sweetheart" and said Courtney was "attaining TV ad icon status". The same article also reported that she was the subject of a popular Halloween costume. At that time, a Facebook page called "Flo, the Progressive Girl" had garnered a little over one million fans. As of January 18, 2015[update], the Facebook page has more than 5.43 million likes. There are multiple websites dedicated to her, and she is popular on Twitter and various internet forums. While Flo’s brand has reached fans, the volume of commercials and the type of humor is off-putting to others, placing her into the category of "love her or hate her."  Fan interest notwithstanding, Courtney's own opinion is that the GEICO gecko "puts out more sexual vibes than Flo does".
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