Sunday, March 29, 2009

Please Take A Moment To Vote In the Current Progressive Insurance Commercial Poll, Thank You

Introduction: At first, I was reluctant to do this poll for a couple of reasons. One is because the intent is not to debate whether or not homosexuality is right or wrong. Also, I didn't want people to misconstrue why I was asking the question by responding with "so what if the two men in the commercial are gay?". My reason for asking the poll question is simple: I find the different ways in which people perceive things interesting. Thank you.

A few weeks ago while watching a local morning news program, a Progressive Insurance commercial aired that I had never seen. It depicted two men (one of whom was looking to buy car insurance) listening to Flo the cashier demonstrate how the man could save money by joining Progressive.

Although I felt it was done in an ambiguous manner, the way I read it is that the two men portrayed in the commercial are gay. While at work that day, I discussed the commercial with a co-worker. Since he hadn't seen it, I sent him the link. He also felt that the two men were gay. One thing he noticed that I missed was something that could be interpreted as a subtle representation of a symbol of gay pride (I won't say what it is because I want to see how many of you notice it). On other sites where the question regarding the intent of this commercial has been raised, there are those who don't see any gay subtext.

Last night (around midnight), I saw the commercial for the second time. Because the only time I've seen it is either early in the morning or late at night, this makes me think TV stations/networks are reluctant to air it during primetime and run the risk of possibly offending viewers. Maybe it is airing in primetime in other areas of the country, I don't know.

If the two men depicted in the commercial are gay, I applaud Progressive because in my opinion, the spot is devoid of gay stereotypes. The way I perceive the commercial, it shows that gays are trying to save money just like the rest of us.

You can watch the commercial below to judge for yourself:


The Rock Chick said...

Interesting. I hadn't seen this commercial until just now, so it's hard to know what conclusion I might have arrived at on my own. I agree with you and I see the symbol you mentioned and I don't think it's coincidence, or necessarily all that subtle, at all.

As someone who works in the insurance industry, I see that commercial in a completely different way. I can not tell you how many times I've had to call our corporate headquarters and go to bat for some of our customers. Because they are not married, they are "not related and not family" according to the company's definition and therefore, do not qualify for things maybe such as a multiple car discount, among quite a few other things. It's ridiculous, in my opinion.

On top of that, you have the idiots like my former co-worker, Goonan, too. We have one couple insured at our office who have been with us forever and are ideal customers who have referred a lot of business to us, as well. They came in one day after their commitment ceremony to insure their rings and Goonan refused to do it because it was against his own moral beliefs. Ridiculous, again.

So, if a company happens to be gay friendly, my opinion is they should let the public know so that they don't have to deal with the discrimination that is really blatant, unfortunately, in a lot of places.

Sorry this is so long, but I need to point out what I think is one weird thing about the commercial...I don't get the impression that the two men are a couple. If they were, why would one buy the other one's watch? I would think if you're a couple, either you've joined your finances to some level or if not, you would just help out your partner if you were in a position to do so, right? That seemed strange to me if indeed this is the message that Progressive is trying to convey.

Candy Minx said...

I am about to vote but I remember seeing this commercial a couple of weeks ago and thinking hey had written portrayals of men who might be good friends and one might be gay, maybe both of them are gay.

I felt more overwhelmingly that they were friends who were very comfortable, chummy and down to earth. I say this because I was struck by their honest eye contact.

I suspect if it's true that the ad isn't running at night time is because the morning audience is primarily a female demographic. Women tend to be more tolerant of sexual orientation than men.

Fantastic post Malcolm, well done and thought out!

Kristi Mantoni said...

I also don't think they are a couple but I do think they are gay.

I also want to punch The Rock Chick's co-worker in the face!

Julie said...

I saw the symbol...My thought was the same as The Rock Chick's...that if they were a couple one would not have bought the other one's watch. other than that, they seem like a couple. So it's rather ambiguous to me, I guess.

JohnH985 said...

I had to watch it twice before I saw the symbol everyone else saw right away. I'm not sure what I think. I agree with Rock Chick about if they're a couple than I don't see one of them buying the other's watch. But they do seem to be gay. I haven't seen this commercial at all until now.

Brenda ND said...

I've no idea. Hmm. Still no idea, but happy TT, anyway.

Zenmomma said...

It is so funny that you posted about that commercial. I had seen it during a network show and did not think of them as gay. Then one day I was on the LoGo Channel, which is a channel with all GLBT programming. When I saw the commercial air there, I immediately saw the couple as two gay men. Maybe a couple, but probably not. Now that's the only way I see them.

pjazzypar said...

This is difficult because I hate labeling people without being able to talk to them; however they appear to be efeminine. Hats off to companies that recognize that society is an amalgamation of people from all walks of life, not just the "the beautiful people". I would like to see more commercials that are representative of society at large.

Marvalus said...

It took me a couple of times watching this on TV to see the symbol you were talking about, and I only looked for it because you pointed it out.

Gay? Of course, but I don't think they are a couple.

Malcolm said...

The Rock Chick: After posting this poll, I wished that I had asked people to watch the commercial w/o me asking whether or not the two men were gay. I would just ask people to email me what they thought of it. Oh well, the poll has still elicited some intelligent responses... starting with yours.

I agree with you, the "not related and not family" policy is B.S.

Also, I don't think the two men are a couple either. On another site, someone else mentioned the "buying the watch" angle. I just think they are two friends who happen to be gay.

Candy: First off, thanks for the kind words. Like I said, I had my doubts about doing the poll. I am glad I did though because everyone so far has taken it in the spirit in which it was intended.

Although the most disgusting homophobic comment I ever heard came out of woman's mouth, my experiences have also been that they are more tolerant than men when it comes to sexual orientation.

Since posting this poll, I have begun to see the commercial more often. I might be mistaken, but I think I saw it this week during the 10 o'clock pm hour (which is still considered prime time).

Kristi: I don't think they are a couple either. Part of me wishes that you punching out The Rock Chick's former co-worker could become a reality... I'd like to see it.

Julie: I think that Progressive wanted to test the waters and therefore played it both ways (so to speak). I wonder if the networks are also testing the waters and eventually will air the commercial during peak viewing times.

John: Over the past week or so, I am noticing that the commercial is airing more frequently. Have you still not seen it in your area yet? I hope they aren't withholding the commercial in the South because they are worried about offending their conservative viewership.

Brenda: Thanks for stopping by.

Zenmomma: I recall watching Logo a couple of years ago and was at first surprised when I saw an Orbitz commercial. The commercial used a "Dating Game" style theme, but the contestants were both male.

I sometimes miss having Logo (that's how I discovered the short-lived show "Wonderfalls"). However, I had to trim the fat when it came to cable channels.

Pjazzy: I think that we will see companies do this type of advertising more and more. The world is changing and companies have to reflect that if they want to survive.

Marvalus: I don't know if I would have noticed the symbolism until my colleague pointed it out.

Malcolm said...

Wow, I just saw the Progressive commercial while watching Dancing With the Stars. You can't get much more primetime than that.

Michael (not Mike) said...

As representative from the gay contingency, I feel obligated to tell you the two guys are most definitely NOT GAY. Here’s why:

1) First and foremost: the men can’t be gay because gay men aren’t allowed to have driver’s licenses and therefore have no need for insurance. Wait a minute—I was thinking marriage licenses. My bad.

2) The tall guy has purchased the other guy’s watch and is being an ass about it. I’m not saying gay people can’t be asses (trust me: they can), but rather gay dudes know you never want to be on the bad side of your man pal. That should be the “cincher”, but let me continue.

3) Speaking of watches—did you see that silver monstrosity of a timepiece? Seriously—a gay man would pay to have that removed from his wrist.

4) Similarly, NO self-respecting gay man would walk out of the house so desperately trying to look like the “can you hear me now” guy. And no gay friend would let him do it (though they could be into the BdSM scene and this is an elabote scene of humiliation).

5) Lastly, check out the guy’s name on the billboard. It’s Mark. If he was gay, it’d be Marcus. QED.

Viewers are confusing the "secret symbol of the homosexual agenda" with poor fashion sense.

I agree with you that Progressive could be "playing the field" with this ad-- nothing wrong with that. But these two don’t even strike a blip on our collective gaydar. At most: they’re frauds.

Jen said...

Great commercial. I agree with you. No sterotypes at all.

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Malcolm said...

Michael: Thanks for commenting with your tongue partially in cheek. As we discussed recently, none of us will ever know the intent of the commercial until Progressive confirms or denies it. However, I did enjoy reading your takes on the commercial. Regarding take #5 (Marcus/Mark), do you think it's customary for straight men to go by Mark, Marcus, or either?

Jen: I think if they had went the stereotype route, it would have just given homophobes more ammo.

J said...

To counter what Michael(not Mike) said, no straight guy would go out of the house with a rainbow on his chest either. :P I'm pretty sure that guy is supposed to be gay.

I think the other is ambiguous. Its like asking where he was born. Don't know! Does it matter? It shouldn't, should it?

Their relationship is also ambiguous.

8558fhd said...

Gay or not (yes they are), all Progressive commercials are extremely annoying because they air the same ones around the clock 24 hours a day, which says a lot about the incompetence of their marketing. They won't even spend the money to keep fresh commercials going. Anyone who buys from them is a fool.

Anonymous said...

The dark haired wimpy one looks like he's in the final stages of HIV.

Malcolm said...

8558fhd: Thanks for stopping by. I think Progressive has one of the best ad campaigns going right now. In my area, there are several different Progressive commercials featuring Flo that air so I don't experience the repetition factor. In addition to the new ones, they still air the one I posted about here and other older ones too.

Anon: That's an interesting take on your part. Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

How can there be any doubt if they are gay or not? How many straight guys do you know that would take a guy with them to shop for car insurance? Besides that, a guy with a giant rainbow emblazoned across his chest?

8558fhd said...

It's not just Progressive with the repetition problem. Geico is the king of repetition. I personally would never EVER buy products from companies that insult your intelligence enough to think that you were amused the first time you saw their commercial, so will thus be amused after you've seen it literally thousands of times? The gay commercial is over a year old and was just recently dusted off and we'll now see it a few thousand more times. Is this supposed to make me buy their product?

Malcolm said...

8558fhd: The gay commercial must be resonating with viewers. Like you said, it's over a year old and it's still airing. Maybe you aren't moved to buy Progressive insurance, but I wouldn't be surprised if some are.

The Crutch said...

Why is it a social crime to not like gay people? There a lot of things I like and don't like but isn't that my God given right? Give it a break everyone. Nobody likes everybody and that's Ok. Let it go.

Anonymous said...

I think they are gay & Jamie
the co worker of Flo is also

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