Flobot: Progressive's ad agency apparently isn't progressive enough to do a Google search

Categories: Commentary


Alright, here's something that's been bugging the utter shit out of me for a while now. Have you seen the Progressive commercials featuring Flobot? They're hilarious. Actually, no, they're not. They're completely inane. But whatever. You can say the same about 99.5 percent of the commercials on TV. Anyhow, while I'm normally impervious to this sort of inanity, these clips have me all sorts of irked like no other, doctor.

See also: Flobots, The Circle in the Square: Jonny 5's track-by-track breakdown of the new album

Grab an eyeful of one of the offending ads above. There's a few of them, and they've been around for a couple years now, evidently. For whatever reason, I've just been seeing them more and more lately. The ads center on Flo, the unimonikered spokesperson for the insurance company, and her robot co-star named...wait for it...Flobot, who was apparently created to absorb some of the former's duties, and the various riveting hijinx that ensue -- like Flo removing Flobot's battery.

Ah, yes, replaced by machines. Flo + robot=Flobot. I get it. Clever.

Look, nothing against Progressive. I'm sure it's a swell insurance company and all, and the robot would be cute if, say, her name was like Doris, or Trudy. But for chrissakes! Granted, it's not like a commercials going to get me to buy whatever's being sold anyway -- I mean, Geico's got funnier ads, and I don't shop there, either.

So then, why am I so worked up? This seemingly willful and opportunistic -- or oblivious and lazy, which is worse, if that's the case -- redundancy plagues me for a number of reasons, foremost being that it just seems so fucking brazen. I mean, I don't mean to be a tempest in a teapot here, but fucking google much, people? In case you missed it, there's already a Flobots -- and has been for, what, I don't know, like three records and two presidential terms? You know, "Handlebars," ever heard of it? Fuck's sake.

Flobots, hit song, several records out, from Denver -- you might've heard of them.

I know there's been no shortage of local acts over the years who've had their handle essentially hijacked by an identically-dubbed act from somewhere else that has staked claim to the name. And generally because the other band either had the foresight to trademark it first, or the group simply has a slightly higher profile with better representation - more times than not, it's the latter -- the Denver band is forced to alter its identity, a brand it's no doubt worked likely tirelessly to build. It's a Hobson's choice, really: amend your moniker or change it entirely. (FLASH/LIGHTS knows what I'm talking about.)

Annoying as this proposition may be, though, there's at least some consolation in knowing that this sort of thing is hardly ever willfully subversive on the part of the other band -- I mean, great minds and all that, right? Sometimes it's the cost of doing business. There's a few surefire ways to avoid this hassle entirely. First, the obvious: Trademark that shit muy pronto, if you haven't already, or, better yet, come up with a name that's so one-of-a-kind and clearly distinctive -- like, say, Lying Bitch and the Restraining Orders -- that nobody else is going to grab it. That's what Flobots did, after all.

Clearly, this didn't stop Progressive's ad people from appropriating the name. And that's precisely what irks me. But that's just me venting. The Flobots cats certainly don't need me to do their bidding. Although they own the trademark, former Flobots guitarist Andy Rok tells me, it's being used in a different context, so he wasn't sure what legal recourse there was, if any. Regardless, for all their raging against the machine and whathaveyou, if I know these Flobots, I'm sure Jonny 5 and company have much bigger giants to slay. And you know what? God bless 'em.

Me, well, I guess I'm just not one of the cats that can, you know, just go with the Flo.

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Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

Take a chill pill. Just goes to show, there really isn't any such thing as intellectual property (such as the trademark "Flobot.") It's all make believe, and even corporate ad types were able to "forget" about I.P., because it doesn't really exist.

By the way, you owe Hobson royalties for referencing "Hobson's choice."

Oh, and also by the way, trademarks have classes. A trademark can be held by an insurance company and the same by a band.

Steve Holmberg
Steve Holmberg

Worst band we have ever been tortured by! A complete joke!


who cares.... flobots suck. all of them


There is no legal recourse and I'm pretty sure you're the only one upset by this.  You need more to fill out your day.  Where were you in the 90's during the Ice-Cube, Ice-T, Vanilla Ice craze?  Maybe they should sue each other?


I would suggest that the author learn a bit more about copyright and trademark.  Cuase, I mean, i don't know,  Delta Airlines and Delta faucets knows what I'm talking about.

dave.herrera moderator editor

@Jon_S I think my head just exploded. Thanks, Jon. ;)

dave.herrera moderator editor

@Nothingtoseehere Point taken, but the examples you offered are variations on the same word; the difference here is merely a letter. @Jon_S makes the most salient point here, I think.


@furburt An interesting read is the legal battles Monster Cable has initiated with just about every company with "monster" in their name over the past 10-15 years.  They're ruthless.

dave.herrera moderator editor

@furburt The author thanks you for reading and taking the time to bust his chops. Cheers!

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