They're trying, but maybe a little too hard.
Advertisers seem to be more and more off-the-wall these days as our collective attention has waned from television. As more devices fight for eyeballs, and I guess the wackier the content, and the more it leaves people slack-jawed and wondering exactly what it was they just watched, the better?
IS THIS HOW YOU SELL INSURANCE?
Such is the case with Progressive’s questionable new character. I guess they thought Flo was getting too familiar, and she couldn’t confuse us quite enough, so they’ve introduced the Motaur. I guess it is working, because here we are talking about it, eh?
From Progressive's PR firm: “Riders don’t just “like” their bike – they eat, sleep and breathe motorcycles. As the number one motorcycle insurer in the U.S., Progressive Insurance today launched a new campaign that celebrates the true self-confidence shared among the close-knit motorcycle rider community.
“Built from insight that riders are one with their bikes, Progressive’s latest campaign features a character with character – a visual symbol of someone who would be at their happiest if their bike were an extension of themselves and they were constantly on the road: the Motaur. Motaur is half man, half motorcycle. It’s Progressive’s heroic, modern-day take on the Centaur. It’s a mystical translation of the relationship that motorcyclists have with their bikes.”
I’m sure I’m not alone when I look at these ads and say: this is super weird.
I mean, I get the whole shock-value thing, the WTFery that they’re trying to generate with this. It’s a head-scratcher, and it’ll make people stop and make sure that they’re really seeing what they’re seeing. In this case, sure, yes, some of us may seem like we’re attached to our motorcycles at the hip but, um, wow, Progressive, this is weird. I have so many questions. Why the terrible weight distribution? What brand is he? Are there female Motaurs? Can humans ride the Motaur? Are there Motaur brand rivalries? I could go on, but after watching these commercials I’m not even sure anybody cares.
Advertisements are getting more and more absurd by design, and absurdity alone isn’t going to make a successful ad campaign. Absudity without hilarity, like we have here, may get people’s attention, but in the end it’s just awkward.
Progressive CMO Jeff Charney says the campaign is “disruptive in all the right ways—in its quietness, its stark cinematography, its subtle and unexpected humor and its universally relatable truth.” Universally relatable? Awkward.