Progressive Insurance uses QR Codes

Progressive Insurance, recently launched a two-page (front and back) advertisement in Real Simple magazine, where each page features a QR Code. The campaign is built on a "Where's Waldo?" theme, but instead of finding Waldo the idea/challenge is to find Flo, the company's spokeswoman.

When the first QR Code is scanned, the reader of the ad is brought to a very simple page which reads, "Find Flo. Find me as fast as you can. Lower your time by finding the bonus items." At the bottom of the screen is a "Play Game" button which, when touched, the reader can start to play the game and try to locate Flo in the same image that appears in the print ad. So, which is it? Is the reader suppose to play on the printed page or the digital page? Does it matter?

On the top of the second page (see image below), the QR Code is displayed with this caption, "Find Flo and Pickles! Now Flo and her buddy are hiding. And don't forget, in the time it takes to find them, you could save hundreds on car insurance at progressive.com." Scanning the second code brings the reader of the ad to the same landing page as the first code, and when the "Play Game" button is touched the same "Find Flo" image is used.

So, what's really going on here? Let's take a closer look. First, the company makes reference to a person named Flo like everyone knows who she is and/or cares. If I am a Progressive customer, chances are I know who Flo is and what she stands for, but as an existing customer, am I really going to pay that much attention to a sales ad, let alone the game? Probably not. If I am not a Progressive customer, Flo probably means very little to me and to try and find her and her buddy probably means that much less. So chances are the game means little to me and, perhaps, the code as well. Second, with respect to the tag line or call-to-action (i.e., And don't forget, in the time it takes to find them, you could save hundreds on car insurance at progressive.com), what's that suppose to mean? For some people it might take 10 seconds to find Flo and/or Pickles, others maybe 30 minutes, depending on how they go about playing the game, so which is it? Ten seconds or 30 minutes to save on car insurance? Third, what happens after the game is played (in full disclosure, I did not have the wherewithal to play to the end), is something won or awarded to the reader of the ad?

My take on this campaign: the target audience is not very well defined, the call-to-action is not very well articulated, the use of the QR Code means very little, or I should say, delivers very little and, when all is said and done, the reader of the ad walks away with nothing. Instead of offering someone the chance to win a silly search game, what about the chance to win some money off of their first premium bill, or to win a free accessory for their car, etc. Something, anything, of substance and value. I know car insurance advertising has gone through a number of thematic changes as of late, all to attract younger drivers, but is this the way (i.e., to find Flo and play games)? While it might make sense from Progressive's perspective, I am somewhat skeptical, especially because I don't know who this ad is really targeted towards given the demographics of Real Simple magazine. Could this have been a media placement gone wrong?

2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL


  1. So where is she-????

    -you need to post the answer for those of us who just can't find her.

  2. Anonymous: Your guess is as good as mine...frankly, I could care less. Tell me or offer me a way to REALLY save on insurance and maybe I'll listen to your message that much more.