We’ve talked about Flo, the Progressive Insurance spokeswoman, as well as The Geico gecko campaign before, and their pervasiveness is a testament to the power of quirky spokespeople (and critters) as well as massive media buys.
I can’t say I’m a big fan of either campaign, but I also don’t see them as symbols of American decline. Over at AlterNet, author David Sirota takes aim at these campaigns and what they represent.
Certainly, there’s nothing new about hard sells from TV charlatans. But these two represent something different, something apocalyptic — and I say that not merely because their maddening ubiquity has driven me to the brink of insanity. I say it because they are peddling the kind of commodity that offers little tangible worth, waging a fight that promises no valuable innovation, and representing a larger insurance and finance sector that’s hollowing out our economy.
Think about it: The gecko and Flo do not embody the capitalist vision of private competition fostering innovations that serve the greater good. They are not, say, two private manufacturers grabbing for customers in an entrepreneurial competition that will result in major technological advances.
Now, I’ve never believed that advertising and marketing is always a force of good, and I know there are a lot of really big problems with the industry. But Sirota takes the argument and throws a gasoline of hyperbole on the fire. It’s an interesting reminder that in this age of two-way conversation, we’re gonna hear some serious objections coming our way to practically anything we produce.