Some of you may recall Whiplash, a 2014 movie about a brutally demanding music instructor and a promising young drummer. The movie won an Oscar for J. K. Simmons, an old, familiar character actor who plays the instructor. Currently, the Farmers Insurance Company is running a series of ads featuring Simmons, with the tagline, “We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two.”
One of Farmers’ competitors is Progressive Insurance, famous in the ad world for a series of commercials featuring Flo, a character played in countless ads by actress Stephanie Courtney. Flo has become as famous as the GEICO gecko, a cartoon character with a Cockney accent advertising yet a third insurance company.
In the most recent Progressive Insurance ad, a group of salespeople are rehearsing a commercial song under the direction of a choral conductor who, in a brilliant bit of interior homage, imitates the character played by J. K. Simmons in Whiplash.
The idea of doing an advert sendup of the character played in the movies by the actor now making competing ads is, in my opinion, absolutely brilliant. I have no idea who in the ad company working for Progressive had the idea, but he or she should get a Clio [the ad world’s Oscar.]
How can I be so sure the ad was the idea of a single ad writer, and not the product of a committee? Because it is a really good idea, and I know a thing or two about really good ideas because I’ve had a really good idea or two.