The female spokesperson is back!
Ok, maybe she never left. At least we can say in confidence that a new archetype is upon us!
No longer just resigned to demoing household products in the strictest, most well-worn gender roles, but provided R-A-N-G-E! Room to form a persona all their own (NOT product-related); to go off on comedic tangents, and blend the hardline task of selling a product with an almost sitcom-like quality of arbitrary storytelling.
What started as a gamble turned trend, then full-blown craze!
Note: this post is long overdue. Our subjects have been hardworking, brand ambassadors for YEARS now. Still, a trend in advertising that shows no sign of slowing down and deserves acknowledgement.
First came Flo
Did you know Flo has been working in Progressive’s “Superstore” since 2008? Nearly a decade now – hellbent on making the dry, mundane task of insurance shopping not only tangible but light hearted and dare I say, fun?
Played by Stephanie Courtney, the commercial break’s now iconic sweetheart has performed in more than 100 spots. And Flo’s presence extends FAR beyond the small screen. Courtney’s character can be seen on web banners, traditional print, turnpike toll booth wrappers, …so iconic, she just needs a bump of hair on billboards for pull through!
At the dealer reception desk for almost three years now, Jan (played by Laurel Coppock) serves to alleviate some of the stress and intimidation typically associated with buying a car. Who wouldn’t be at ease if Coppock’s character were the first person that greeted them in the showroom?
After cars comes phones. Growing equally as high in sales pressure (and creeping closer in price, amirite!?) is finding yourself an unwilling participant in the ongoing mobile phone wars. Never fear, Lily is here! Played by Milana Vayntrub, AT&T’s wholesome soldier of the store salesfloor. So, approachable and sweet, you’ll wanna come back for your iPhone 8, 9, and 10!
But wait, there’s a whole subset of comediennes we’d be remiss to exclude in this post!
A cadre of cross-the-pond confidants, commissioned to make the buying of all those blush-worthy, unmentionables easier. Why seek help from the UK? Something about that English accent – thought “uppity” by Americans since the days of Hamilton, when placed in dichotomy with awkward subject matter, grabs attention. Consider:
Ok, so there’s nothing awkward about gum. But when Orbit called upon the talents of Vanessa Branch to help launch lemon-lime and crystal mint back in ’06, they weren’t just talking gum but taking on bad breath – and that *is* uncouth! ‘Dirty mouths’ everywhere rejoiced and the character has stuck (pun intended) for over a decade, Orbit swapping Branch out for Farris Patton in 2010.
The PooPourri Girl
A product demo of sorts, although REEKING (again, pun intended) of hyperbole for extra impact.
Played by Bethany Woodruff, a gal after this blogger’s own heart, with her constant alliteration and sing-song rhyme schemes. We’d love to see more! Although, how much more explaining is there left to do? Don’t hold your breath (sorry, couldn’t help myself) for a product line extension.
Cottonelle’s ‘Go Commando’ Girl
She’s out to two-ply pamphlet your neighborhood with all the bum-based benefits you stand to bear with Cottonelle. Played by Cherry Healey, Kleenex’s TP is elevated out of the commodity lines with cheeky before-and-after product testimonials.
Does it work?
Let me start by saying as I googled each of our subjects, in EVERY case, [brand] + the word ‘woman’ or ‘girl’ was within the TOP THREE suggestions, often beating out actual product.
If there’s true chemistry, brand + ambassador, it’s a match made in (advertising ROI) heaven.
It works at face value, because we’re all looking for things to soften our anxiety around those daunting, big, and/or awkward purchases.
Equally important: link fantasy with reality.
These spots can’t just be red herrings, dreamt up by siloed marketing departments, but the result of big picture business plans. The execution of strategy also can’t conclude at the end of the 30 second spot; you must tether down to the real world. Now I know commercials are supposed to be idyllic exaggerations on real life. But if Flo won’t be the one answering our call – someone like Flo should be. The in-person experience should capture the spirit and achieve the same vain as the commercial spots – Toyota showrooms should feel approachable and bright. AT&T stores should feel friendly and no-pressure. Otherwise, the whole thing breaks down at the finish line; all your hard work goes to waste.
Make sure art imitates life, or at least life imitates art.
The order doesn’t matter so long as the two are fused.