A Progressive Mistake
August 18, 2012
Matt Fisher, a New York comedian, tweeted "My Sister Paid @Progressive Insurance To Defend Her Killer In Court,” sparking a back-and-forth social media nightmare for the insurance company.
After the death of Fisher’s sister, Kaitlynn, killed in a Baltimore traffic accident, the Fisher family was forced to sue the other (underinsured) driver in the accident. Fischer’s Tumblr posts maintain that a lawyer for Progressive Insurance backed the defense—a claim that Progressive denies (but journalists report that court records seem to uphold).
In a profoundly stupid move, Progressive Insurance Company responded to the tragedy with tweets that included the smiling moniker of its iconic character, Flo, played by actress Stephanie Courtney.
Social media can humiliate the most powerful corporations. Actor Will Wheaton piled on by posting a PR bot mechanically reading Progressive’s posts.
Now everyone is heaping blame on Progressive’s PR department. It’s been our experience, however, that when such cluelessness occurs, there is often a lawyer to blame. Most lawyers we work with are sophisticated about PR, but there are still some real dinosaurs out there.
Our bet is that someone from Legal clicked the tweet that sent the Flo Bot round the world.