How Stephanie Courtney Got Her Job As Flo In The Progressive Commercials

Stephanie Courtney poses in front of a white background with a big smile.

You might not recognize the name Stephanie Courtney, but you almost certainly recognize the actress. Courtney serves as the quirky character Flo for Progressive insurance commercials (via  Cosmopolitan ). She's done well over 100 ads as the memorable, over-the-top character, and things seem to be going strong (via Ad Age ). Before she landed the iconic spokesperson role, Courtney spent many years in show business, auditioning for various parts, and getting turned down plenty. 

Courtney grew up in Stony Point, New York, watching Broadway musicals, film noir, and comedies with her mom and dad. She learned early that people made a living acting, but she never went on auditions in The Big Apple as a child. Despite that, she played an active role in her middle school and high school plays, enjoying everything about the productions. After college, Courtney held a series of different jobs while studying at Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. Even an early failure to earn a spot at an off-Broadway quality theater in her hometown didn't discourage the woman who eventually became Flo, a spokesperson as recognizable as Betty Crocker and Rosie the Riveter (via Cosmopolitan). As Flo, Courtney managed to make a fortune, amassing a stunning net worth .

Here's how Stephanie Courtney's determination finally paid off

Stephanie Courtney told Cosmopolitan that her first big break came when she got on with Theatreworks USA performing for children, which allowed her to get her equity card to qualify for better pay and health insurance. She switched to comedy, and eventually, she and her sister moved to Los Angeles, changing the trajectory of her career. Courtney spent years auditioning and learning with lots of opportunities in L.A., including a spot with The Groundlings Theatre & School in Los Angeles. Through those experiences, she improved while holding down several "day jobs." Her first national commercial for Bud Light played during the Super Bowl in 1999. By the mid-aughts, she was also working on television in shows like "Mad Men" and "The Comeback." Before she booked Progressive, Courtney got roles in big-name commercials like Skittles and Toyota, which boosted her confidence. 

Courtney's thoughts when she auditioned for the character of Flo were, " S he'll love them to a fault where she's walking the line of crazy. It's like the love just spills over and becomes a tiny bit inappropriate." Her character creation paid off, and Progressive hired her. She filmed her first Flo commercial in December 2007, just before she turned 38. "You have to audition for a thousand 'nos' so you can get a 'yes,'" Courtney said. At 51, after nearly 14 years as Flo, Courtney is proof that hard work and determination can pay off.

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Stephanie Courtney gets makeup for her character Flo.

The Great Read

Everybody knows flo from progressive. who is stephanie courtney.

A polo shirt, a white apron and a retro hairdo changed an actor’s life forever.

Stephanie Courtney has played Flo for over fifteen years. Credit... Sinna Nasseri for The New York Times

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By Caity Weaver

  • Nov. 25, 2023

One needn’t eat Tostitos Hint of Lime Flavored Triangles to survive; advertising’s object is to muddle this truth. Of course, Hint of Lime Flavored Triangles have the advantage of being food, which humans do need to survive. Many commodities necessitated by modern life lack this selling point. Insurance, for example, is not only inedible but intangible. It is a resource that customers hope never to need, a product that functions somewhat like a tax on fear. The average person cannot identify which qualities, if any, distinguish one company’s insurance from another’s. For these reasons and more, selling insurance is tricksy business.

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In 2022, nearly half the active property- and casualty-insurance premiums in the United States and Canada were sold by just 11 companies. Increasingly, insurance corporations attract business not by building trust between their customers and local agents, but by successfully ascribing positive characteristics to the fictional characters who anthropomorphize the companies and products in ads. The first to arrive at the vigorous insurance-brand-character orgy was a gecko, created in 1999 to teach people how to pronounce the acronymic name of the Government Employees Insurance Company. (Conceived as a single spot, Geico’s Gecko campaign was extended the year a commercial-actors’ strike prohibited live humans from filming ads.) It has since been joined by the Aflac duck, Liberty Mutual’s LiMu Emu, Professor Burke (J.K. Simmons) from Farmer’s ( bumbadumbumbumbumbum ), Jake from State Farm (from State Farm) and Mayhem from Allstate.

But all of these are subordinate to a moderately whimsical employee-character, who has been persuading Americans to purchase insurance (or in some commercials, reminding them that they already have), since the twilight of the George W. Bush administration: Flo from Progressive.

According to Ad Age, in 2022 the Progressive Corporation spent more than $2 billion on advertising in the United States, pouring more money into the effort than McDonald’s, Toyota or Coca-Cola. (The insurance industry’s total annual media-ad spending is estimated to be just shy of $11 billion — more than was spent by all the top beer brands combined.) Progressive’s C-suite could justify the elaborate outlay as follows: A decade and a half ago, their executive ancestors stumbled upon advertising gold, in the form of a story that Americans could bear to be told over and over again — so far, forever. It is an interminable folk tale about buying insurance, propelled by the charisma, or connoted soothing attentiveness, or gently grating peskiness, or something , of Flo, its central character.

Flo debuted in 2008, working the checkout of an eldritch white store uncannily devoid of shadows or edges. The original idea behind these ads, internally called the “Superstore” campaign, was to transform insurance from something people had to pay for into something people got to shop for . (In early ads, the store’s shelves were lined with packages of insurance — cornflakes boxes and tomato cans covered with Progressive branding.) In “Behind the Apron: The Story of Flo,” a Progressive-produced video, a company executive recalls that before “Superstore,” when asked to list car-insurance companies they had heard of, even Progressive’s own customers failed to name it. The extent to which Flo is responsible for the company’s subsequent surge in popularity is impossible to quantify; the character is so inextricably linked with the brand that the two can no longer be separated for measurement. If it could be represented photographically, though, the relationship would look something like the inverse of the famous image from the psychologist Harry Harlow’s experiment, in which a baby rhesus monkey cleaves to a wooden “mother” — with the insensate entity fiercely clinging to the flesh-and-blood woman.

A still from an early Progressive commercial featuring Flo.

A pair of Flo’s blue high-tops are displayed at Progressive headquarters in Ohio. In the company’s online store, her likeness, in varying degrees of abstraction, adorns a lunch box, an air freshener, a puzzle, a pin, a dog toy, a bobblehead, a chia pet and the faces of multiple dolls of other nations (a Japanese kokeshi and a family of Russian matryoshkas). The only Flo paraphernalia that does not feature her visage subsumes the buyer into her likeness: the “Flo Costume,” with apron, name tag, pin, headband and chestnut-brown wig ($24.99; worn two Halloweens ago by Joe Jonas). The year the ads premiered, the company’s chief marketing officer, Remi Kent, told me, Progressive’s stock price was under $15. It recently closed at $157.67. “While I can’t give Flo all of the credit,” Kent said, “I think she has really become synonymous with the brand.”

In fact, the human face, voice and bearing that constitute “Flo” are associated far more strongly with Progressive than with the 53-year-old woman who provides them: Stephanie Courtney. Courtney did not intend to sell insurance. She meant to star on Broadway and then, following wish revision, to support herself as a comedic actress. Instead, she has starred in the same role for 15 years and counting, becoming in the process a character recognizable to nearly every American — a feat so rare her peers in this category are mostly cartoon animals. Since appearing in the first Flo spot in January 2008, Courtney has never been absent from American TV, rematerializing incessantly in the same sugar-white apron and hoar-frost-white polo shirt and cocaine-white trousers that constitute the character’s unvarying wardrobe. It’s true that her career did not launch until she was 38; and most of her audience could not tell you her name or anything about her; and many of the attendees of the Groundlings improv show in Los Angeles, in which she still performs weekly, probably do not recognize her — set all that aside, though, and Stephanie Courtney is one of the most successful actors in the world.

I found Courtney in head-to-toe black at the restaurant in Studio City where we had arranged to meet — a photo negative of Flo on a suede sofa. Her purse immediately caught my eye: It appeared to be an emerald green handbag version of the $388 “bubble clutch” made by Cult Gaia, the trendy label whose fanciful purses double as objets d’art . Courtney handed it to me while rattling off tips for extending the shelf life of fresh eggs. It was a plastic carrying case for eggs, it turned out — eggs she had brought me from her six backyard hens. “Did you think it was a purse?” she asked merrily.

We were led to a small outdoor table abutting an immense dormant fire pit. “When they turn this on,” Courtney said in a conspiratorial whisper, setting her (actual) handbag upon its concrete ledge, “it’s going to be amazing to see this bag catch on fire.” (Indeed, it would prove exciting when, two and a half hours later, flames leaped out of the pit with no warning; Courtney rescued her pocketbook just before it was engulfed.) Over iced tap water, Courtney told me about the early days of her acting career, a carousel of enthusiastic rejection — “Everyone in New York is like: ‘You’re great! No.’” — subsidized by catering work. In 1998, she moved to Los Angeles and booked her first commercial: a 1999 Bud Light Super Bowl ad.

“I was the girl in the back going like this,” Courtney said, making a face that a girl in the back might make as two guys in the checkout line, short on cash, debated whether to purchase toilet paper or Bud Light. To her eye, the Bud Light toilet-paper spot was suffused with a timeless quality — one that guaranteed it would “play forever,” she told herself, using the money it earned her to buy UGGs. It turned out to play closer to a month. This was significant because of how big broadcast commercials tend to pay: Actors receive one sum for their day of work on set and residuals in 13-week cycles as long as it plays thereafter.

Commercial work was intended to tide Courtney over until her comedy career took off. At open mics, she performed alongside ascendant comedians like Tig Notaro, Maria Bamford and Retta. After years of classes, she was promoted to the upper echelons of the Groundlings improv troupe, a comedy mint that has pressed stars like Lisa Kudrow, Paul Reubens and Melissa McCarthy into wide circulation but is best known for stacking the cast of “Saturday Night Live” with performers who are not Stephanie Courtney. “S.N.L.” would come to watch Groundlings performances and, as Courtney recalled to me, “They were like, ‘Stop sending her stuff in.’ Like, ‘We’re not interested.’”

“I remember feeling so terrible,” Courtney said. “And just embarrassed. Like a weird shame. Like, ‘I shouldn’t even walk around.’” It wasn’t as if “S.N.L.” had declared a moratorium on Groundlings hires. The show signed her friend Kristen from class — better known from 2005 to 2012 as “ ‘Saturday Night Live’ star Kristen Wiig.”

Wiig described Courtney to me as “one of the funniest people I’ve ever known in my life” — supernaturally gifted at instantaneously inventing new characters; “a master improviser”; “effortless.” She remembered a sketch in which Courtney played an excited stand-up waiting in the wings, listening to a prolonged, fawning introduction before walking onstage to begin her set. “And as soon as she gets out, she falls really hard on her face,” Wiig said, laughing. “Just starts moaning and crying. And that was the sketch.”

The problem in the early 2000s was that people didn’t love Courtney in a way that could be reliably monetized. She auditioned for the role of Joan on “Mad Men,” and the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, loved her, but not for Joan — for a character named Marge, a switchboard operator, with whom other characters had almost no interaction.

“I was so stinkin’ broke,” Courtney said. Her car wouldn’t go in reverse, but the repair cost something like $2,500, so she just drove it forward. This complicated traveling between auditions, but she had a method. She would pull into a spot, roll down her windows and go inside. When she returned, she would give another performance: that of a woman discovering that her car would not start. “ ‘Oh, no!’” she would exclaim. “ ‘Oh, shoot! Oh, no! My car won’t start!’ And then I’d flag down someone and be like: ‘Oh, I have an idea! What if I put it in neutral, and you pushed it?’” People love being generous — someone always helped that poor woman. “And I’d go to the next one and do the whole thing all over again.” This act Courtney described as “much better than whatever I did” at the actual auditions, which didn’t lead to much.

By 2007, Courtney’s life was all on credit cards, and her age was a number almost unheard-of in scenic Southern California. Even the commercial gigs were slowing when, that winter, she was cast in an ad for an insurance company, as a cashier. She arrived at 5:30 the morning of the shoot to have bangs cut into her hair (“I didn’t recognize myself”) and texted a photo of the finished look from her flip phone to the guy she was dating (now her husband, a lighting designer at the Groundlings theater). The first script ended with a customer, upon realizing the quality of deal he was receiving, saying, “Wow,” to which the cashier (name tag: “Flo”) was instructed only to have a funny reaction. Courtney’s knee-jerk response was to scream, “Wow!” back. “I say it louder,” she added under her breath. Years of Groundlings tuition paid off in this instant. Progressive loved the ad-lib.

Within a couple of months of shooting the first ads, Courtney was asked to film more. The work eventually became so steady that she quit her day jobs. “I just remember getting the check for the year — which, never, ever in my life … ” she trailed off. The relief in her voice sounded as fresh as if this had only just happened. “I owed my manager money,” she said. “I owed family members money.” Her efforts to write sketches at home were constantly being interrupted by debt collectors. “And then I got that money, and I was just like: Here! Here! Here!” She mimed handing it out. “Just — here! — just get out of my life.”

About three years into the ads, Courtney’s finances were evolving so rapidly that her manager advised her to get a business manager. “Which I did,” she said. “And it is the advice I give to any other person who is like: ‘I have a campaign. What do I do?’” It is the advice she gave to Kevin Miles when he came to her home to chat over lunch about becoming Jake from State Farm. (She also knows “Doug,” the guy in the Liberty Mutual emu commercials.)

In the absent glow of the patio’s still-dormant fire pit, Courtney and I considered the dinner menu, which included a small quantity of caviar costing a sum of American dollars ominously, discreetly, vaguely, alarmingly, irresistibly and euphemistically specified as “market price.” Hours earlier, my supervisor had told me pre-emptively — and demonically — that I was not to order and expense the market-price caviar. Somehow, Courtney learned of this act of oppression, probably when I brought it up to her immediately upon being seated for dinner. To this, Courtney said, “I love caviar,” and added that my boss “can’t tell [her] what [she] can have,” because she doesn’t “answer to” him, “goddamn it.” She charged the caviar to her own personal credit card and encouraged me to eat it with her — even as I explained (weakly, for one second) that this is not allowed (lock me up!).

Subsequently pinning down the exact hows and whys of my consuming a profile subject’s forbidden caviar took either several lively discussions with my supervisor (my guess) or about “1.5 hours” of “company time” (his calculation). In his opinion, this act could be seen as at odds with my employer’s policy precluding reporters from accepting favors and gifts from their subjects — the worry being that I might feel obligated to repay Courtney for caviar by describing her favorably in this article. Let me be clear: If the kind of person who purchases caviar and offers to share it with a dining companion who has been tyrannically deprived of it sounds like someone you would not like, you would hate Stephanie Courtney. In any event, to bring this interaction into line with company policy, we later reimbursed her for the full price of the caviar ($85 plus tip), so now she is, technically, indebted to me.

Despite her face being central to the ad campaign, Courtney told me at dinner (where we otherwise dined with marvelous economy) that she is seldom recognized — “maybe once a month,” she estimated. She makes few in-person character appearances. “You might like Flo,” she said, “but do you want to deal with her now, against your will?” About a year into the campaign, she visited a friend who had informed her son that Flo would be stopping by. Courtney arrived as herself — no costume — but just the idea that the TV lady was suddenly in his home sent the child “sobbing” into his room. “It’s almost like Santa Claus getting in your face,” Courtney said. “And it’s like: ‘Ain’t no gifts! There’s no upside!’”

She learned early that people enjoy spotting Flo in real life only if they realize who she is on their own. If, for instance, her mother-in-law excitedly informs a stranger that she is Flo, they do not like it. “They really don’t,” she said.

According to Progressive, 99 percent of consumers — defined by Remi Kent as “everyone out there that has the potential to buy insurance from us” — “know Flo.” Kent told me that the character scores high on likability “not only with the general market” but also with “the Black community” and “the Hispanic community.” For years, Sean McBride, the chief creative officer of the Arnold Worldwide advertising agency (whose copywriters have written more than 200 TV spots for the “Superstore” campaign), received daily emails indicating that ads featuring Flo were “very, very directly tied to people calling” Progressive to inquire about switching insurance.

Jumbling the puzzle of Flo’s likability, according to Cait Lamberton, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School, is the possibility that what audiences enjoyed about Flo in 2008 is not what they enjoy — or think they enjoy — about her in 2023. It could be that American brains, exposed to so many years of this ad campaign, now confuse the “ease of processing” Flo content (a quality reinforced through repeated exposure) with actually liking it. Research shows, Lamberton said, that familiarity can overpower distaste.

“Even if people find her annoying, they don’t find her objectionable,” Lamberton said. In fact, even people who don’t like Flo do like Flo, because any character trait they cite as a reason for disliking her “reflects that there’s a very strong memory trace.” For advertisers, a character that stimulates mild irritation with every appearance is preferable to one that is innocuous, so long as the benign annoyance does not mutate into a strong negative association. Complaining about something trivial, Lamberton said, “is a very comforting experience.”

One possible secret to Flo’s appeal, suggested Lamberton, is that her appearance “both conforms to and pokes fun at gender stereotypes, because she’s a little bit exaggerated. She looks a little bit like a quirky Snow White.” The lightly retro hairdo may be “comforting” to people for whom feminine bouffants recall a halcyon social era; it can also be read as a wry visual gag juxtaposed against Flo’s sexless, shapeless uniform.

What makes the “Superstore” campaign not just notable but virtuosic is its freakish longevity. To stave off what Lamberton called the “wear out” phase — when content becomes so familiar it is no longer effective — Arnold is perpetually altering the ads just enough to keep them novel. It has released “Superstore” spots shot in the style of a fuzzy 1970s after-school special, a 1990s sitcom and a “TMZ on TV”-style paparazzi show. It has introduced co-workers (“the squad”) not to supplant Flo but to further develop her character. (She can interact with her colleagues more brusquely than with customers.) Courtney has portrayed several members of Flo’s extended family, including her grandfather. If we can think of the campaign as a sentient being seeking to prolong its survival, its mission is to generate ceaseless low-grade curiosity about the familiar character of Flo. (“Is this a new ad?” constitutes sufficient interest.)

McBride compared Flo’s effect on insurance advertising to the influence of “Iron Man” on cinema. Robert Downey Jr. is “so incredibly charming, fast-talking, but sort of self-effacing — whatever that is — and then every Marvel movie became that,” he said. “This is kind of the junior version of that.” Lamberton placed the campaign in the vanguard of now-ubiquitous trends like brand characters instantiating abstract concepts, and commercials that function as ersatz sitcoms with years of story lines. Flo’s surreal cheer, and the extent to which her enthusiasm for competitively priced insurance veers into pathological obsession, are winks at an old-fashioned idea of advertising; the implication, through exaggeration, is that today’s audiences are too sophisticated to be swayed by an unrealistic pitchman. Lamberton refers to this self-conscious style, endemic in the current proliferation of “funny” insurance commercials, as “ironic advertising” — ads that “recognize they are a little bit ridiculous.”

When I told Remi Kent about online speculation that Progressive pays Courtney $1 million per year to star in commercials, Kent smiled silently at me for a few seconds without moving the muscles of her face one millimeter, like a buffering video of herself. It was only when I declared my own guess for Courtney’s annual salary — a figure much higher than $1 million — that she stopped buffering (but kept smiling). “Well,” Kent said, “that’s a wide range, isn’t it?”

The second guess I put to Kent was a number hazarded by Phil Cassese, a commercial agent at Stewart Talent. Cassese’s clients have appeared in ads for brands like Olive Garden and Verizon. (One, a young redhead, served as the new face of Wendy’s after its 2012 rebrand.) By his estimation, the star of a “splashy campaign,” along the lines of “Superstore,” might reasonably expect to hit the $1 million mark after four or five years — around the time of the Cronut and “Blurred Lines,” in Courtney’s case. Fifteen years in, Cassese said, an annual figure “like $10 million” would be “in the fair ballpark.”

You know how sometimes, in a commercial, there is a scene that takes place in a house? How many houses do you suppose the commercial auteurs need to borrow to pull that off? “Zero — that’s what movie magic is for”? Perhaps, “One”? In fact, on a gray morning this past spring, the people who make the Progressive commercials commandeered a whole block of houses, to shoot scenes inside one family’s appealingly nondescript home. “There are specific neighborhoods in L.A. that don’t look like L.A.,” Sean McBride told me. “If you start paying attention,” he said, you will notice the same homes reused “constantly.”

To the tree-lined block, the “Superstore” team had trucked a quantity of equipment sufficient to stage a three-hour Beyoncé concert on the moon. There were lights, cameras, actors’ gleaming trailers and portable heaters — it was, after all, 62 degrees outside — but most of the equipment just looked like … equipment? Like: sturdy black tubs with lids, crates, clamps, poles, spaghetti heaps of power cords, racks of racks, extra-large folded-up things, rectangles and tubular items. Some of this arsenal had been used to transform the living room of one house into a Black person’s living room. Perhaps it already was one — but because regular people don’t naturally style their dwellings in commercially approved ways (literally, a representative from Progressive HQ must walk through the set and approve every single item that will appear on camera), because they have things like artwork (stupid), their own furniture (ugly), family photos (who is that?!) and Rubik’s cubes (forbidden, because Rubik’s Cubes® are trademarked), all the aforementioned must be temporarily disappeared and replaced with narratively appropriate, legally generic this and that. If cars are present, their manufacturer logos are covered with abstract shapes of similar dimensions, their license plates, upon inspection, cursively reading not “California” but “Drive Safely.” This obfuscation process is called “Greeking,” as in, “It’s all Greek to me” (as in, “I can’t tell what that says, but it definitely doesn’t say Kia Optima, for legal reasons”).

If my visit to the “Superstore” set can be taken as representative, being closely involved with the production of popular TV commercials for large national brands is the best possible outcome for a human life. The scale and complexity of the operation at the center of Courtney’s work is eye-popping. Every fleeting football-game-interrupting Progressive ad is the product of hours of labor from more than a hundred people. On set, a cat wrangler stood just out of frame, ready to pounce with a backup cat if the primary cat failed. Trays of lickerish delights — crostini with prosciutto, cups of ethereal parfait — were discreetly proffered, at frequent intervals, to people scrutinizing monitors. Every lens, light and politely anxious face was turned heliotropically toward Courtney, in a rented living room, trying to remember, while delivering her line, that Progressive was offering deals “for new parents” rather than “to new parents” — a possibly meaningful distinction. This wasn’t a critically acclaimed Hulu series; there was actually a lot riding on this. It needed to be the same, but slightly different, and every bit as successful as the 200 that had come before it, so that everyone would be asked to return to this job — not necessarily, perhaps not exactly, the job of their dreams, but a better job than anyone could ever hope for, bolstered by friendly faces and fantastic catering and a sumptuous corporate budget — in perpetuity.

Many entertainers progress from commercial work (young Leonardo DiCaprio for Bubble Yum) to critical acclaim; some later double back to endorsement work to cash in on their renown (less-young Leonardo DiCaprio for the Guangdong OPPO Mobile Telecommunications Corporation). Few, in either stage, find their likenesses permanently welded to a multibillion-dollar company. Courtney continued auditioning for other ads even after landing Progressive, but suspected that even casting directors who liked Stephanie Courtney refused to hire Flo. She could have avoided what has become an indelible association by abandoning the role early on. But she almost certainly could not have been as successful as an actor had she not played Flo for 15 years; few actors are.

Yet Courtney cannot but envy some of her peers, flourishing from projects they have written themselves. “I’m as competitive or hard on myself or ‘compare and despair’ as anybody,” she said. She feels pressure — self-inflicted — to pursue a creative endeavor that is solely hers. “I am writing something just for mys — I shouldn’t even say this, but I’m writing something for myself,” she said. It’s a comedic script, set in a high school, like the one where her father worked. “I don’t even think I should waste my time trying to pitch it to anybody,” Courtney told me. “Because I understand that it would be received politely. It would be a great meeting. We’d have water.” But, no matter how funny she is in real life, she knows people are not clamoring to hear more from the Progressive lady about her ideas for feature-length comedy films. If she ever did make a go of it, “I would probably finance it,” she said. “I will probably take my kid’s college money.”

There are moments when Courtney’s everyday is disrupted by a flashing recollection of her good fortune. A while ago, she and her husband were discussing possible home improvements — some tedious projects they should get around to. “I remember thinking,” she said, “in an annoyed tone, Well, how can life be better than it is now?!” The idea made them laugh. “It’s worth more than money,” Courtney said, to feel like you have “enough.”

But other things might be worth more than money, too — things like knowing you have told a story that inspired your fellow man to contemplate facets of life beyond switching insurance carriers. Is there a tasteful limit to how many things worth more than money a person should attempt to acquire?

“Who has a better job than you?” I asked.

“On that set?” Courtney asked.

“In the world.”

“There are times when I ask myself that,” Courtney said. “The miserable me who didn’t get to audition for ‘S.N.L.’ never would have known,” she said, how good life could be when she was denied what she wanted. “I hope that’s coming through,” she said. “I’m screaming it in your face.”

What sane person would not make the most extreme version of this trade — tabling any and all creative aspirations, possibly forever, in exchange for free prosciutto; testing well with the general market, the Black and the Hispanic communities; delighted co-workers and employers; more than four million likes on Facebook; and, though tempered with the constant threat of being rendered obsolete by unseen corporate machinations, the peace of having “enough”? Do we deny ourselves the pleasure of happiness by conceiving of it as something necessarily total, connoting maximum satisfaction in every arena? For anyone with any agency over his or her life, existence takes the form of perpetual bartering. Perhaps we waive the freedom of endless, aimless travel for the safety of returning to a home. Perhaps willingly capping our creative potential secures access to a reliable paycheck. Forfeiting one thing for the promise of something else later is a sophisticated human idea. Our understanding of this concept enables us to sell one another insurance.

Caity Weaver is a staff writer at the magazine. She has written about trying to find Tom Cruise, going on a package trip for youngish people and spending time in the “quietest place on Earth.” Sinna Nasseri is a first-generation American based in Los Angeles. He learned to take photographs on the streets of New York City after leaving a career as a lawyer.

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How the U.S. Funded the Bomb: Watching the film “Oppenheimer,” a New York Times journalist wondered (perhaps a bit obsessively): How did the president get the $2 billion secret project past Congress?


Flo from Progressive Not Present in New Commercial

Flo from Progressive Insurance

New Progressive Ad Leaves Out Flo

When it comes to Progressive Insurance’s use of their spokeswoman, Flo, in commercials, they’ve been nothing short of prolific. In just the last six years the online insurance company has used Flo in their commercials 94 times. Despite an ongoing rumor (given weight by pundits from credible publications such as ) that Flo from Progressive was going to be “killed off” or, in other words, cease to be used as the company’s spokesperson, Stephanie Courtney has continued her role as Flo.

You Might Be Losing Money on Your Auto Insurance – Find Out by Comparing Rates!

Statements from the company have made it clear that they have no intent to remove the insurance marketing icon that rocketed them to the top of the insurance ladder. She’s a key branding element for the company, so it makes sense that Progressive wouldn’t just drop her like a hot rock . That said, the company is adjusting its strategy when it comes to how they make commercials and who they’re making their commercials for.

Progressive Addresses Millennials in New TV Ad

According to a statement made by Progressive, which was reiterated on Adweek’s website, their goal now is to connect with Millenials by showing the humanity of their company. They want to show that the company behind Flo is made up of ordinary, hard-working, and honest people. The idea is that Millenials will engage more with a humanized brand with which they share something in common. In order to establish this position, Progressive introduced their newest commercial, titled “The Thread”. You can watch the spot below.

This TV spot isn’t the only thing that Progressive is doing to reach Millenials. They’ve instituted an outreach and recognition campaign they’re calling “ Apron Projects ”. Progressive, instead of focusing in on their own employees or corporate efforts, will be featuring organizations and other companies who share their values on a special, dedicated website. The website will showcase the other group’s efforts while reinforcing that the values that drive them are values shared with Progressive. The company hopes that when viewing these ads and the accompanying website, their target audience will see a company of substance instead of a thirty-second bit of entertainment focused solely on selling a product.

Other Insurance Companies Are Doing This Too

Progressive isn’t the only company taking a more holistic, personal approach to their marketing efforts. Both Allstate and Nationwide have launched their own “soft” ads that match the same model as Progressive’s “The Thread” campaign. One major difference lies in the fact that both Allstate and Nationwide employ celebrity voice-overs in their campaigns, while Progressive does not. In the new Progressive ad the voiceover is actually done by Sean McBride, the Senior VP and Creative Director of Arnold Worldwide—the agency responsible for inventing Flo the Progressive Girl.

Speculation on the Continued Existence of Flo the Progressive Girl

All Spokespersons have a finite lifetime. At some point a company will rebrand and, in the process, they often get rid of or alter their spokesperson or mascot. That said, Flo from Progressive has struck a very strong chord among a large group of consumers and she’s definitely a driving force for Progressive. It’s possible that the new ads will have a similar effect on Millenials. If it does, we can expect to see more of these types of ads in the future—but Progressive’s Flo will continue on until she loses her grip on her target demographic, which doesn’t appear to be any time soon.

It should also be noted that the campaign, while not including Flo the Progressive Girl, it does reference her. Both the name of the campaign (“Apron Projects”) and the imagery of the ad directly tie in to the famous spokesperson. The element that ties them all together is the use of the apron, which has been a signature part of Flo’s look from the very beginning.

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Who plays Flo in the Progressive Insurance commercials?

Finding out more about her is so easy, a caveman could do it.

Flo from Progressive, smiling

Since time immemorial – or since 2008, if you’re a millennial or older – Flo from Progressive has been dropping 30-second non-sequiturs during sitcom ad breaks in the name of selling you car insurance. 

As insurance commercial spokespeople go, Flo is more straightforward than most: Not a caveman, a pile of money with eyes, a small lizard, or Dean Winters , she is simply a person who sells insurance. Sure, sometimes she opens an insurance-themed amusement park or hobnobs with celebrities, but at her core, she remains like us, the common folk. Now, the performer who plays her? She’s high up on a pedestal, enjoying the benefits of fame and a long-running series of international commercials. She probably gets great insurance. Who is she, anyway?

Meet Flo from Progressive

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Stephanie courtney (@thatladyfromprogressive)

The ubiquitous Flo from Progressive is played by one Stephanie Courtney, best known as, you know. Flo from Progressive. She’s done other stuff, too.

A native of Stoney Port, New York, Courtney recalled in a 2015 piece for Cosmopolitan that she’d grown up attending Broadway shows, admiring classic performances and emulating them in school plays and local productions. Falling fully in love with acting during early adulthood, she moved to LA with her sister in 1997 and joined The Groundlings, the improv theater that gave us Paul Reubens, Phil Hartman, Lisa Kudrow, and Kristen Wiig. She performed stand-up, toured performing musicals for elementary schools, and wrote and performed a semi-autobiographical play with her sister in 2000, titled Those Courtney Girls. 

Meanwhile, the performer started picking up small roles in movies and television shows. An early connection with Bob Odenkirk landed her gigs on HBO’s Mr. Show and the future Better Call Saul star’s 2003 feature film Melvin Goes to Dinner. Bit parts on ER, Mad Men, and Tim and Eric followed. 

But the work she’d be best known for began in late 2007 when Courtney was chosen as the latest in a glut of Progressive commercial spokespeople. She described the gig as “such a 180” in the life of a struggling actor, defining her work life. Luckily, she says that the enormous amount of makeup and hair styling that goes into breathing life into the character also affords Courtney a modicum of privacy in her day to day – she claims that she’s never had a drink sent over at the bar by way of recognition, or to have been honked at in traffic by big fans of Progressive.

That said, she does belong to an elite group of professional spokespeople, forming bonds of support with AT&T’s Milana Vayntrub during the latter’s public call for civility circa 2020.

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Meet the Woman Behind Flo, the Progressive Insurance Lady

You might not know standup comedian and actress Stephanie Courtney by name alone, but you definitely know her by her TV persona, Flo, from the Progressive Insurance ads. Courtney has been playing Flo for eight years and has gained a certain notoriety for doing so.

So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that TMZ approached her on the streets of Los Angeles — sans makeup and the bouffant hairdo — to ask her if, as Harrison Ford ’s insurance provider, she was concerned about the actor’s recent plane incidents.

“He is a Gold Star customer,” Courtney told TMZ. “I’m sure he’s fine.”

TMZ reminded her that Drake gave her a shout-out on Saturday Night Live and asked, “Can you bust a flow ?”

“I can’t,” she laughed. “I’m not capable.”

Courtney, 47, is an alum of The Groundling’s Theatre & School in Los Angeles, which counts Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy, Lisa Kudrow, and many others among its starry graduates. She’s logged time in an impressive number of movies and TV shows, including Mad Men , Blades of Glory , 2 Broke Girls , and a hilarious turn as the bookstore manager in You’re the Worst.

But it’s her role as Flo that’s made her an icon of the TV landscape. It was a role Courtney was allowed to make her own, and she did — using her mother as inspiration.

“I went in for an audition eight years ago for a ‘big box store employee,’” Courtney told USA Today last October. “And I put on my polo shirt and put my hair in a ponytail and showed up.

“What they were looking for was basically a friendly neighborhood waitress; she is superfriendly and nice, almost to the point of madness, and I was like, ‘I can do that.’ I went straight to my mom, and I credit her with Flo’s personality. I said, ‘Yes, I can become Jane Courtney!’”

Related: Top Shots of the Week

In a full-circle moment, the Progressive commercials once did a parody of TMZ — among other stand-out moments, including Courtney poking fun at a sexist insurance salesman and another in which she played five members of Flo’s extended family. It’s little details like these that have helped elevate Flo to iconic pitchwoman status, hence why she’s being approached by TMZ on the street.

Flo is so popular that she’s been a Halloween costume favorite for years, spawning a YouTube video showing people how to amend their Flo costume to become Zombie Flo, Unicorn Flo, and more. There are even Flo-related Pinterest and Facebook pages.

For Courtney, Flo is a collaboration between herself and the writers who created her. Noting that the writers are open to her input and that she has the opportunity to improv a bit, Courtney said that Flo’s continued existence can be chalked up to a passionate fanbase that loves her perky realness.

“Everyone sees something different in Flo,” she shared. “In a lot of advertising, you’re sold perfection, and that’s pleasing but ultimately, not realistic. Flo is not perfect; her hair and makeup, things have slipped through the cracks. That’s something to watch.”

Related: Stars Celebrate International Women’s Day

Certainly Flo has her detractors. Huffington Post spoke to some media types who offered their salty input, including a retired New York book editor who called her ads “irritating,” a videographer who referred to her as “creepy, weird,” Los Angeles PR professionals who said she was “dorky and unattractive,” and a veteran marketing guru who declared, “Yech, I’d rather watch the (Aflac) duck.” But if Courtney has her way, we’ll be seeing Flo for a long time to come.

“I don’t know, how much plastic surgery would it take?” Courtney cracked. “I could be propped up on a gurney or something. Who knows?”

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The Complete Transformation Of Flo From Progressive

Stephanie Courtney smiling

Flo from Progressive has one of television's most recognizable faces — and voices — thanks to her spunky, sometimes over-the-top persona. The woman behind the character is a talented actor named Stephanie Courtney. Of course, Courtney wasn't always known as the quirky, red-lipped insurance agent. Prior to being hired by Progressive in 2007, Courtney did a few different things within the entertainment industry. From doing stand-up comedy to landing a recurring role on a popular television show, Courtney has established herself over the course of her career thanks, in part, to her versatility. For many, Courtney just has the "it" factor that so many casting agents look for. Yes, she's funny. But she's also relatable.

"Stephanie is a very gifted performer and she has a fundamental likability, vulnerability, and normalcy," Sean McBride, chief creative officer at Arnold Worldwide, told Fast Company in a 2018 interview. "Even when we ask her to be dry, she has a really nice way of making it feel like a human moment." Courtney continues to work on her craft, looking up to others in the industry, like Steve Carrel and Amy Adams, for inspiration. With that said, we're taking a look at Courtney's life from her time growing up in New York in the '70s to becoming a wife and a mom later on.

Stephanie Courtney was born in New York in 1970

Stephanie Courtney was born and raised in New York in 1970. Courtney was the youngest of three children, and she and her family lived 30 miles outside of Manhattan. Growing up, she was heavily influenced by her mother, who was a singer.

Her mom's love of the arts really helped shape Courtney's love for all things musical theater. "From an early age, I was influenced by the greats. My mom was a big fan of musicals, and my dad loved film noir and comedies. These amazing movies from the '30s to the '60s were always playing in our house, and I had heard every Broadway recording," Courtney told Cosmopolitan  in 2015. 

All throughout her school years, Courtney would audition for various musicals and plays and really enjoyed theater. "I've been doing shows ever since I was a kid," she told  The Washington Post . Thus, Courtney knew that she wanted to do something in the entertainment world when she got older, though her dad insisted that she go to college. Courtney obliged, though once she had the realization that she could have a career in the arts, that's exactly what she set her mind on.

Stephanie Courtney graduated from Binghamton University & started doing stand-up

Fulfilling her dad's wishes, Stephanie Courtney enrolled at Binghamton University and decided to major in English. During her time in college, Courtney kept on acting, auditioning for various productions at the school, even landing a lead role in "The Crucible." After her graduation in 1992, Courtney wanted to continue her studies, though she really wanted to turn her focus to theater. "I was never tortured over whether I wanted to become an actor. There was never another option in my mind," she said in a 2009 interview with Binghamton University Magazine . So she moved to the city and enrolled at  The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater , where dozens of other well-known actors studied before her.

It was also around this time that Courtney started doing stand-up comedy — a different way to hone her skills and work on her stage presence. While chatting with Backstage , Courtney recalled a point in time when her manager suggested she move to Los Angeles — and so she did. Continuing on her journey to fame, Courtney joined The Groundlings  and kept on doing comedy. When her manager suggested she start looking into booking commercials, she decided to give it a go. "She worked hard to get me a commercial agent. I booked a really good one early on," she told Backstage. That one just happened to be with a major beer brand.

Stephanie Courtney appeared in her first national commercial

Stephanie Courtney had a lot to celebrate when her very first national commercial for Bud Light ran during the Super Bowl in 1999. In the ad, a then 29-year-old Courtney played the role of an annoyed shopper who was waiting in line with her shopping cart when two guys approached the checkout line with a six-pack of Bud Light and one roll of toilet paper.

When they are told by the cashier that they don't have enough money to pay for both items, they're forced to make a decision (they go with the beer, of course). Courtney's role was extremely small, and she didn't speak. In fact, if you blink during the commercial, you may even miss seeing her. But she was there, wearing a blue shirt and doing her best impression of someone who was super annoyed.

"I had a little part in it, but when I got paid, I thought I had made it. I quit all my day jobs," Courtney told Cosmopolitan. As a starving actor living in Los Angeles, however, that money didn't go far, and Courtney was soon back to picking up gigs on the small stage in order to keep paying her bills.

Stephanie Courtney landed her first recurring TV role

Over the next several years, Stephanie Courtney auditioned for dozens of television and movie roles and landed some really small parts in shows like "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "ER." It wasn't until 2004 that she landed her first recurring role in an animated series called "Tom Goes to the Mayor," which aired on Adult Swim. Courtney lent her voice to the role of Joy Peters and even got her very own music video out of the deal.

In December 2004, she starred in the episode "Rats Off To Ya," which ended up being turned into a song, too. That song and music video studied none other than Courtney, who sang a catchy tune and danced — with backup dancers and a giant rat, because why wouldn't she?

Courtney starred in a total of 27 episodes of the show, which ended in 2006. From there, it was on to the next for Courtney. With a few more small roles under her belt, things really started to look up for the actor, who went on to star in more national commercial spots.

Stephanie Courtney appeared in a Skittles commercial

Years after having a non-speaking role in the Bud Light commercial, Stephanie Courtney landed a bigger role, this time in an ad for Skittles. Wearing a red polo shirt, Courtney was one of three people in the television spot — and this time? She even got to speak! Perhaps a bit of foreshadowing: Courtney played the role of a sales associate who wants to show a customer a cool trick that her co-worker can do.

"Hey, Tim? Show Joel how everything you touch turns into Skittles," Courtney says, picking up a stapler at the beginning of the ad. From there, Courtney didn't say anything more but just got to eat some of the popular candies as the rest of the commercial played out. The ad was released in 2007 and even won a creativity award, according to Ad Age .

Courtney has also appeared in ads for companies like McDonald's, Glade, and General Mills and was almost cast as Toyota Jan for the carmaker's ads, but the role was given to Laurel Coppock. However, Courtney's biggest break in her career would come in 2007 when she landed her most recognizable role as Flo in the Progressive commercials . 

Stephanie Courtney filmed her first ad with Progressive

The year was 2007 — and Stephanie Courtney's life was about to change forever. What started out like any other audition ended up being the pinnacle of Courtney's career. She went to the audition for Progressive, thinking that maybe she'd get a callback for a role in the ad, but it turned out to be something bigger. "I just channel the friendliest person I could imagine," Courtney told The Washington Post of her audition. "It's sort of like my mom to the 10th power. She's one of these ladies who is a perennial optimist." Sure enough, Courtney landed the gig — and Flo made her television debut about a year later.

Interestingly, the producers behind the commercial didn't actually think that Flo would become their official spokesperson. It was after Courtney filmed the first ad that they realized they had struck gold — and they wanted Flo to stick around. "That character was completely unplanned, but we saw it and we jumped on it. She became the center of this ad sitcom. It took us a couple of spots, but we started to move the focus on her," Progressive's CMO at the time, Jeff Charney, said (via Fast Company). In the time since, Courtney has starred in more than 100 television spots for the insurance giant.

Stephanie Courtney married Scott Kolanach & she's a mom

Stephanie Courtney is a fairly private person with no active official public-facing social media account to be found. However, she has previously shared a bit about her personal life. While working with The Groundlings in Los Angeles long before she joined forces with Progressive, Courtney met her now-husband,  Scott Kolanach , who worked in lighting. "Every crazy old lady character I ever walked out as on that stage had beautiful, peachy gem lighting because he liked me," she told People magazine in 2009. The two started talking and dating, and they eventually fell in love. 

Courtney and Kolanach also have one child together, though Courtney admits that they waited a bit before starting a family. "I booked Flo when I was just about to turn 38. I got married at 35. I had my kid at 40. I'm a late bloomer. But it tastes just as sweet when it's late. I definitely was a calmer person getting these things later in life," she told Cosmopolitan.

What's next for Stephanie Courtney?

While Progressive definitely keeps Stephanie Courtney busy, she still makes time for other opportunities that come her way. For example, she played the role of Essie Karp on "The Goldbergs" from 2018 until the show was canceled in 2023. Although Courtney only starred in 30-something episodes, it was her longest recurring role to date. In February 2023, Entertainment Weekly confirmed that ABC would end the series after its 10th season, which wrapped in May 2023.

As far as what's next for Courtney, we're certain that we'll be seeing a lot more of her on television, if not in a Progressive commercial, than perhaps on another sitcom. Either way, Courtney has come a very long way from her time doing stand-up comedy on a small stage in Los Angeles. These days, Flo's estimated net worth  is at $6 million — raking in about $2 million a year — with about half of that believed to come directly from Progressive.

And her role with the company goes far beyond memorizing a script. "The writers are very open to what I think; there may be some improv here now and then, that is encouraged, by the way," she said in a 2016 interview with Lohud . "All of us were working so hard to find out who this person was and what the boundaries were. With Flo, she was sort of originally this perfect little Number One employee, but the power has gotten to her," she says. And rightfully so. We can't wait to see what Courtney does next.


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insurance commercial with flo

Progressive insurance commercial cast: meet Mara and Flo

insurance commercial with flo

Progressive Insurance has this unique ability to develop the characters of its commercials in a way that lets us enjoy them like they are part of our family. We already had a long story of complete characters like Dr. Rick and TV Dad , and besides them, two women keep living their funny existence in the commercial series: they are Flo and Mara, two regulars in the cast of their ads. Let’s discover who they are.

Mara and Flo are two regular presences in the Progressive Insurance commercial series: Mara is interpreted by Natalie Palamides, whereas Flo is Stephanie Courtney . You can watch them together in this commercial , where the audience got to know Mara’s parents for the first time.

Natalie Palamides is an American comedian, actress, and writer. She is known for her unique style of comedy, which often incorporates physicality and character work. Natalie was born on January 6, 1990, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

She gained recognition for her critically acclaimed one-woman show called Laid , which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017. You can enjoy her performance in Laid here . After that, she developed Nate, a confident and exaggerated version of a masculine character that met huge success on the Internet. Nate became also a comedy show that landed on Netflix. You can discover “him” here .

Natalie Palamides has also appeared in various television shows and films, like Bob’s Burgers , and The Powerpuff Girls . In recent years, Natalie has continued to establish herself in the comedy scene. She has performed her shows at comedy festivals and theaters around the world, and her work continues to receive critical acclaim for its originality and comedic prowess. Her presence on American TV as Progressive Mara makes her a recognizable face for everybody.

insurance commercial with flo

Stephanie Courtney is an American actress and comedian, born on February 8, 1970, in Stony Point, New York.

Courtney’s breakthrough role came in 2008 precisely when she began appearing as Flo in the Progressive Insurance commercials. The character of Flo is an energetic and quirky salesperson for the insurance company, known for her distinctive hairstyle, red lipstick, and white apron. Courtney’s portrayal of Flo gained widespread popularity and made her a recognizable face in advertising.

Aside from her work in commercials, Stephanie Courtney has also had a career in film and television. She has made appearances on shows such as Mad Men , The Goldbergs , and Everybody Loves Raymond . She has also appeared in films like Blades of Glory and Melvin Goes to Dinner .

In addition to her acting work, Courtney has performed in various comedy shows and improvisational theaters. She has been associated with The Groundlings, an improvisational comedy troupe based in Los Angeles, and has performed in their shows.

Stephanie Courtney’s portrayal of Flo in the Progressive Insurance commercials has made her a well-known figure in popular culture. Her comedic talent and memorable performances have contributed to her success in both the advertising industry and the entertainment world.

Mara and Flo are the most popular character in the cast of the Progressive Insurance commercial series. On our pages, you can discover more about the other famous characters from Progressive ads: Dr. Rick is here , and here we explore Reginald VelJohnson, the actor playing TV Dad .

Discover other curiosities about popular commercials on Auralcrave

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Progressive Flo and Janice’s Stuff Commercial

insurance commercial with flo

Progressive has dropped a new commercial starring Flo and her sister, Janice, highlighting that, whether you’re a minimalist or a maximalist like Janice, Progressive covers your stuff when you bundle home or renters’ insurance with your auto insurance.

The spot features Flo paying a visit to her sister, whose house is filled with all kinds of items, some of them so weird Flo doesn’t even know what they are. The Progressive spokeswoman tells her sibling, who asks her not to touch her things, that “when you bundle your home or renters with your auto, Progressive provides 24/7 protection for almost everything you own.” She then asks Janice if she really needs all of the objects she has around her. Flo thus learns that the weighted loop is for her snatched waist, a small pink armchair is her dog’s chaise lounger and also finds out about a foot treadmill, her Tuesday chalice, a purse that says purse, a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber, a solid gold coffee machine, and a lake making kit. Seeing the day’s deal on TV, consisting of a bedazzled foam frother, Janice asks Flo if Progressive can cover that, too. “Yes, but….” tries to say Flo. Janice, though, doesn’t wait for something alse and calls the phone number to order five of them.

Actress/comedian Stephanie Courtney, who plays Flo, took over this role for TV in 2008. She also portrays other members of Flo’s family, including her sister, Janice, her brother, Todd, as well as her parents and grandfather. In 2017, she was joined by Jim Cashman, who plays Jamie. Progressive has also enlisted Natalie Palamides as Mara, who joined the Progressive team back in 2020, Paul Mabon as Alan, Christine Tawfik as Lucy, Brian Stepanek as Bob.

Tags: Progressive Commercial , Progressive Flo Janice

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insurance commercial with flo

The Marketing Impact of Flo’s Sister Character: Who is Flo’s Sister in the Progressive Commercials

  • September 23, 2023
  • by Emerge Woman Magazine

Home » The Marketing Impact of Flo’s Sister Character: Who is Flo’s Sister in the Progressive Commercials

Who is Flo’s Sister in the Progressive Commercials

We’ve all seen her, haven’t we? The charming lady with the sparkling smile, perky bob cut, and immaculate white apron? That’s right – we’re talking about Flo from the Progressive commercials. She’s become something of a household name over the past decade or so, captivating audiences nationwide with her quirky humor and infectious energy. But who exactly is she?

Flo is actually a character portrayed by actress Stephanie Courtney. Born in Stony Point, New York, Courtney has been bringing Flo to life since 2008. She’s an integral part of Progressive’s marketing strategy – a friendly face that viewers can connect with as they learn about insurance products.

Courtney was initially hired for what was supposed to be a one-off role but ended up sticking around due to Flo’s popularity. Today, it’s hard to imagine Progressive without her! With more than 100 commercials under her belt portraying this iconic character, it’s safe to say that she has left quite an impression on viewers.

Stephanie is a remarkable actress with an undeniable ability to portray different characters seamlessly. Not only does she bring Flo to life on screen with her quirky personality and unmistakable red lipstick, but she also manages to play her own sister ‘Janice’ with equal finesse. It takes skill to convincingly argue with oneself on screen, and we must say Stephanie nails it every time!

Raised in Stony Point, New York, Stephanie has a rich background in theater which undoubtedly contributes to her versatile acting skills. She didn’t just stumble into this dual role; she earned it through years of hard work and dedication to her craft.

The Marketing Impact of Flo's Sister Character: Who is Flo's Sister in the Progressive Commercials

Progressive Commercials: The Family Concept

Let’s dive into the heart of Progressive commercials, where we’ll uncover the family concept. Have you ever found yourself wondering about Flo’s sister in these quirky advertisements? If so, you’re not alone! Turns out, Flo’s sister has played a key role in making the Progressive commercials memorable and engaging.

Progressive Insurance, a household name in insurance coverage, is no stranger to creating advertising campaigns that really stick with viewers. Their secret sauce? Crafting a relatable “family” dynamic which resonates with audiences. In their commercials, they’ve created an ensemble cast that feels like your everyday American family – albeit with a uniquely humorous twist.

Now let’s get to the point – who is Flo’s sister in the Progressive commercials? Well, her character’s name is Jamie and she’s portrayed by actress Natalie Palamides. Jamie adds another layer of humor to this hilarious ad family as Flo’s quirky and eccentric counterpart.

The introduction of Jamie gave us more insight into Flo’s world outside selling insurance. It also added depth to Progressive’s marketing strategy – presenting an image of close-knit community within an insurance company was something fresh and appealing!

In essence, it wasn’t just about selling policies anymore; it became about feeling at home with ‘family’. This masterstroke humanized their brand while continuing to drive home their message of dependable coverage. And that folks, is how Flo got her lovable sidekick!

The Marketing Impact of Flo’s Sister Character

We’ve all seen it, the Progressive commercials featuring Flo and her sister. But who is Flo’s sister in the Progressive commercials? That’s Jamie’s counterpart, Janice, played by actress Holly Elizabeth Hallstrom. Here’s how her presence has significantly influenced marketing efforts.

Introducing Janice into the storyline was a strategic move by Progressive. It provided an additional layer to their existing character lineup and infused new energy into the narrative. This helped keep viewers engaged and interested as they followed along with each episode.

Adding another family member also created opportunities for more diverse storytelling. With two characters from the same family, we could explore different dynamics that wouldn’t be possible with just one character. For instance, they can play off each other’s humor or share personal anecdotes that only siblings would understand.

From a commercial standpoint, having Flo’s sister in Progressive ads gave us more flexibility when it came to casting and scheduling shoots. If one actress wasn’t available for filming, we had another character who could take center stage without disrupting continuity.

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The 10 best insurance companies for small businesses

Running your own business can be satisfying with the perks of being your own boss, higher potential of success, and independence. But it also has its own challenges and stresses. One of the most significant challenges is protecting your business from liabilities or losses, which is why small business insurance is so important. Whether you’re the victim of a data breach or a customer is injured on your premises, the right insurance policy provides peace of mind and keeps your business operational.

To help you find the best insurance for your company, we evaluated 22 insurance companies based on their available coverages, customer service and financial stability ( view our full methodology ) and identified the top 10 small business insurers.

The 10 best small business insurers of February2024

  • Best overall: State Farm
  • Best for customer service: Nationwide
  • Best for financial stability: Chubb
  • Best for commercial auto coverage: Allstate
  • Best for coverage add-ons: The Hartford
  • Best for landlord coverage: American Family
  • Best for data breach or cyber insurance: Travelers
  • Best for policy discounts: Farmers
  • Best for home-based businesses: The Hanover
  • Best insurance marketplace: CoverHound

Whether you’re a solopreneur or you manage a growing team, running your own small businesses is a booming trend. The Economic Innovation Group reported that Americans submitted 5.5 million new business applications in 2023, an increase of 8% from the prior year. 

For new business owners and those who have been managing a company for years, it’s a good idea to shop around periodically and review your business insurance needs to ensure you have adequate coverage. To help you get started, here are our picks for the best small business insurers of 2024.

1. Best overall: State Farm

About: Founded in 1922, State Farm has been providing insurance coverage for over 100 years, and it has an outstanding reputation in the insurance industry. It has the highest-possible AM Best Financial Strength Rating of A++, signaling its financial stability and reliability, but it also stands out due to its innovative products, award-winning mobile app, online platform, and other tools. And it also has high scores for customer support. 

  • Am Best Rating: A++ (Superior) 
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking: 2nd out of 13 issuers
  • Number of Small Business Products: 14 small business insurance products and add-ons
  • Customer support:  State Farm’s customer support is available via chat or phone, or you can contact a local agent; State Farm has over 19,000 agents in the U.S. 

Our verdict

State Farm is best for companies in a broad range of industries, from bakeries to plumbing. It is particularly useful for newer companies or business owners who are unsure of what kind of coverage they need; State Farm has several tools— including a simple online quiz— that can help you identify what insurance products and add-ons are right for your business. State Farm has comprehensive solutions, including coverage for liabilities, property, employees and even life insurance for the business owner. 

2. Best for Customer Service: Nationwide

About: Nationwide has been in operation since 1925, and it provides customers with a variety of insurance products, including both personal and business coverage options. For small business owners, Nationwide offers a broader-than-usual range of insurance solutions, including business liability coverage, workers’ compensation insurance and commercial umbrella policies. 

  • Am Best Rating:   A (Excellent) 
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking: 1st out of 13 issuers
  • Number of Small Business Insurance Products: 14 
  • Customer support:  Nationwide allows business owners to get quotes online, or you can connect with an agent over the phone or in person. 

Our verdict 

Nationwide is best for small business owners with fewer than 100 employees and under $5 million in revenue because that’s the company’s requirements for its business owners policies (BOPs).  BOPs are packages of coverage that combine business liability, commercial property, business income and equipment breakdown insurance into one policy. 

Nationwide has an outstanding reputation for customer service, and you can reach customer support in several different ways. Additionally, the company has many optional add-ons you can use to customize your policy for added protection. 

3. Best for Financial Stability: Chubb

About: Chubb is a major insurer for both small and large businesses. It has a separate website and division for small businesses, with products specifically designed for small business owners, such as BOP and general liability coverage. 

  • AM Best rating: A++ (Superior) 
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking: 9th out of 13 issuers
  • Number of small business insurance products: 7
  • Customer support:  You can contact Chubb customer support through a local agent or by phone.

As a business owner, you hope your business will be in operation for years to come, so you want to know your insurer will be able to protect you for the long-term. Chubb has the highest-possible AM Best rating of A++ (Superior), indicating that it should be able to honor any claims today and in the future.

4. Best for Commercial Auto: Allstate

About: Allstate is known for both its personal and business insurance, but it may be an especially appropriate choice for those who need commercial auto coverage. Allstate insures a wide variety of vehicles, including box trucks and service utility trucks. 

  • AM Best rating:   A+ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking: 5th out of 13 issuers
  • Number of small business insurance products: 6
  • Customer support: Customer service is available through a local agent, phone or online chat. 

If you have a fleet of commercial vehicles for deliveries, moving inventory or shipping supplies, Allstate can provide necessary protection. Through Allstate, your vehicles will be protected with liability, collision, comprehensive and uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. Plus, you can also get rental car coverage to keep your business in operation if one of your vehicles is damaged in an accident 

5. Best Coverage Add-Ons: The Hartford  

About: The Hartford is a leading commercial insurance provider, offering both commercial business insurance and employee benefits. The Hartford has robust coverage options, including specialized insurance policies for a broad range of industries and optional add-ons you can use to customize your coverage. 

  • AM Best rating: A+ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking: 10th out of 13 issuers
  • Number of small business insurance products: 17
  • Customer support:  The Hartford’s customer support is available through phone or local agent.

The Hartford is an insurance company best-suited for business owners in specialty industries, such as shipping companies that send goods overseas or those that operate in areas prone to flooding; the Hartford has commercial flood insurance and inland marine insurance options, which aren’t commonly found from all insurers. 

6. Best Landlord Coverage: American Family

About: American Family has been in operation since 1927, and it sells personal, business and farm and ranch policies. For landlords that rent out houses, condos or apartment buildings, American Family has unique options to protect your building structures, and offer liability coverage. 

  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking: 7th out of 13 issuers
  • Customer support:  You can reach American Family’s customer support through an agent or by phone. 

Getting adequate coverage as a landlord can be challenging, so American Family may be a valuable resource. Its complete coverage option for landlords provides comprehensive insurance, and includes an extensive loss control program to reduce potential losses in the future. 

7. Best for Data Breach or Cyber Insurance: Travelers

About: Travelers has a longstanding history and presence globally; it operates offices and has agents in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Besides essential business insurance products like business owner’s policies and general liability, it also has specialized options for a range of industries, including companies who do most of their business online and need cyber insurance. 

  • AM Best rating: A++ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking: 12th out of 13 issuers
  • Number of small business insurance products: 14 
  • Customer support:  Travelers insurance policies are sold through independent agents, and the agent is who you can go to with any questions about coverage.

If you’re part of the 29% of businesses that conduct business online, Travelers provides cyber insurance coverage and added features for digital businesses.  In addition to cyber insurance, it also provides customers with cyber security training modules, risk assessment tools and other resources to help you protect your business. 

8. Best for Policy Discounts: Farmers

About: Farmers Insurance can trace its history to 1928, and it offers a variety of business insurance products for small businesses. And it has a larger-than-usual number of discount options which can make your small business insurance policy more affordable, including: 

Corporation discount: If your business is a corporation, you can save 15% on your premiums. 

Vehicle safety discount: If you have commercial vehicles with safety features like lane departure notifications, you may qualify for added savings. 

Multi-policy discounts:  If you purchase multiple insurance products, such as BOPs, worker’s compensation or personal auto or homeowners insurance, you may qualify for a reduction in your premiums. 

  • AM Best rating: A (Excellent)
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking: 4th out of 13 issuers
  • Customer support: Farmers’ customer support is available via chat, phone or agent. You can reach customer service Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. through 11:00 p.m. CST, and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. through 8:00 p.m. CST. 

Small business owners looking to save money may benefit from Farmers’ small business insurance. Particularly if you have a corporation, need to purchase a BOP or have commercial auto vehicles, Farmers’ discounts can be especially valuable. 

9. Best for Home-Based Businesses: The Hanover

About: Founded in 1852, The Hanover is one of the oldest insurance companies on our list. It has coverage options for both personal and business insurance. The company has several specialized small business insurance products, including four separate packages for those who run home-based businesses. 

  • AM Best Rating: A (Excellent)
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking: Not rated 
  • Number of small business products: 12
  • Customer support:  Customer support is available via phone or agent. 

If you have a home-based business, such as listing your property on homeshare sites, tutoring or graphic design, The Hanover could be a good match. It has several packages designed for the unique needs of home-based businesses of different sizes, ensuring you have protection for your business, inventory, equipment and any clients. 

10. Best Insurance Marketplace: CoverHound

About: CoverHound is an insurance marketplace that connects users to personal and business insurance policies. It sells policies to residents of all 50 states, and it partners with major insurers like Chubb, Liberty Mutual and Nationwide. 

  • Number of small business products: 13
  • Number of partner carriers: 7
  • Customer support: You can reach CoverHound’s customer service team via email, phone or secure message. Customer support is available Monday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m. through 8:00 p.m. EST. 

CoverHound is a good match for people looking to purchase coverage quickly and streamline their research efforts; you can get quotes from several major insurer carriers at once. Once you find a match you like, you can buy a policy online, and it will go into effect in as little as 24 hours.

What to know about Small Business Insurance  

As a business owner, you likely need some kind of small business insurance. But what kind of coverage depends on the type of business you run, its size and its revenue. 

The most common small business insurance products include: 

  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): A BOP is a basic package of business insurance products combined into one policy. It combines essentials like property insurance, liability coverage and business interruption insurance. 
  • Commercial auto: If you make deliveries, transport clients or use vehicles for other business operations, you’ll likely need a commercial car insurance policy. 
  • Liability insurance: Liability insurance protects you against lawsuits resulting from bodily or personal injuries or property damage incurred by clients or vendors in dealing with your business.  
  • Property insurance: Property insurance is a must if you have valuable equipment, supplies or a physical business space; it protects you from losses that may occur due to storm damage, fires or theft. 
  • Workers compensation : If you have employees, you’ll likely need to get workers’ compensation coverage to protect your employees in cases of work-related injuries or illnesses. 
  • Errors and omissions (professional liability) insurance: Businesses that give advice, such as financial planners, or provide physical care need professional liability insurance. It covers your legal expenses and other fees if you’re sued due to negligence or a failure to provide services. 

Besides those basic coverage options, you can often customize your policy by adding additional coverages to your policy. Common add-ons include: 

  • Cyber liability: If you do most of your business online, handle sensitive information or store customer data like email dresses or payment information, you’ll need a cyber liability policy. These policies provide protection in cases of hacks or data breaches that compromise sensitive information. 
  • Business interruption insurance: If your business operations are interrupted and you lose revenue for a covered reason, such as building damage after a fire, business interruption coverage provides you with some compensation. 

How to choose a small business insurance company

To choose a small business insurer, consider the following factors: 

  • Company size: Some insurers specialize in policies for freelancers or solopreneurs, while others may offer policies to businesses with 20 to 100 employees. Your company size — and how much you expect it to grow — will affect which insurer is a good fit. 
  • Equipment and buildings: If your business operations involve a brick-and-mortar store or warehouse, equipment, vehicles and several employees, you’ll need a much more robust policy than someone operating a small, online business from their home office. Depending on your company’s operations, you may even need specialized coverage add-ons, such as cyber insurance or commercial auto coverage. 
  • Risks: Businesses vary in risk based on their industry and business model. For example, an academic tutoring business will likely have less of a liability risk than a roofing company. Think about what risks your company faces, such as what kind of equipment you work with, how often clients or customers will come onto your property and if you handle sensitive information. 
  • Cost: Small business insurance can vary significantly in cost between companies, so it’s a good idea to get quotes from several leading small business insurers to find the best deal. 

If you’re still unsure about which types of insurance products are right for you, take a look at our comprehensive guide to small business insurance .

Frequently asked questions

What does business insurance cover.

Business insurance coverages and exclusions vary by policy; a basic BOP covers the following: 

  • Property insurance for the business’ buildings and equipment
  • Business interruption insurance for the loss of earnings that may occur from fires, storm damage or other major disasters
  • General liability protection that covers your legal responsibility if another party is injured or experiences damages from your business

What is general liability insurance? 

General liability protects you from losses related to injuries, property damage or misleading advertising. If you have clients who visit your business premises — and therefore are at risk of becoming hurt in an accident on your property — general liability coverage is a necessity. 

How much does business insurance cost? 

The cost of coverage depends on a wide range of factors, including your company size, industry and location. In general, you should expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $5,000 per year for a basic business owners policy (BOP). 

Our methodology  

We reviewed 22 insurance providers and insurance comparison marketplaces to help you find the best small business insurer for your unique needs. To evaluate the companies and come down with our final list, we ranked the companies based on the following factors: 

  • Financial stability: We looked for companies with AM Best Financial Strength Ratings of A (Excellent) or better. 
  • Availability and eligibility: Preference was given to companies that issue policies in the majority of the U.S. states., and that insured companies with one to 100 employees. 
  • Product options: We looked for companies that offered at least 10 small business insurance products, including essentials like BOPs, commercial liability and business property coverage. 
  • J.D. Power ranking: Companies with scores above the study average were given extra weight. 
  • Online quote availability: Companies that allow customers to get small business insurance quotes were given additional consideration. 
  • Complaint index: We reviewed the complaint index, number of commercial liability complaints and types of complaints submitted about each company to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). 
  • Potential discounts: We looked for companies that offered at least one discount option for small business insurance customers. 

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EDITORIAL DISCLOSURE : The advice, opinions, or rankings contained in this article are solely those of the Fortune Recommends ™ editorial team. This content has not been reviewed or endorsed by any of our affiliate partners or other third parties.


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