Quick: who is Stephanie Courtney? Don't know her?
Well, how about Eric Violette?
Oh, come on. If you're alive and in America, you know them. I guarantee it.
Stephanie is that supremely annoying woman on the Progressive Insurance television commercials. Not only that, you see her face every single time you open your home page. Eric is the male version of Stephanie: he's the guy featured in the ubiquitous free credit report commercials.
Honest to God, I would never ever consider buying - or even investigating - Progressive Insurance because I find their spokeswoman cloying, insipid and patronizing. And as far as my credit rating goes, I've never ever wondered about it - not once - and there is not one thing about hopping online to get a credit report that appeals to me, free or not. (Years ago, a financial advisor I know mentioned that the new found feeding frenzy over credit reports or "knowing your credit score" was something of a financial canard. In other words, if you need to know your number, you can assume it's probably too low.)
The reason I've titled the post this way is that apparently, at least when it comes to Stephanie, I'm in the minority. According to Stuart Elliott who writes about media and advertising for The New York Times, many viewers LOVE Stephanie. They call her "breezy." Progressive Insurance even reports that people have called the company, and expressed their desire to buy insurance, but only if they can purchase it from Stephanie.
Whatever. I can only hope these callers deep down understand she's an "actress," playing a role of some kind, although I can't quite figure out what exactly she's supposed to be. To me, she's aggravating, not approachable. She's unctuous and smug. I'd run in the other direction if someone with her style and manner tried to talk to me about insurance.
But again, that's me. Maybe I am mostly alone in my perspective here. She does seem to keep getting work so there must be some return on this investment for Progressive. More troubling is the report of people calling the company and asking to speak to Steph or have her work up a policy for them. Could any of them be serious? Even just some of them?
Sometimes, I wish I were that clueless. Sometimes I feel too mean to live. Maybe therapy would help. I wouldn't mind getting some counseling, but only if I could sit across the room from Dr. Paul Weston for an hour or so every week. OK, so Paul is really Gabriel Byrne, playing a psychologist on television. What's the difference? The same people who buy policies from a TV spokeswoman would also call HBO and try to find out where Dr. Weston's Brooklyn office is located.
And we worry about securing healthcare coverage for everyone in the country. We should be more concerned about the number of citizens who think they can buy insurance by calling an actress who appears in a television commercial. I'll bet for every one who called, there are ten at home who believe the same thing. We're doomed.