Progressive is still suffering from the fallout after comedian Matt Fisher took to Tumblr to allege that the insurance company defended his sister, a client’s, killer in court.
Not only have thousands of people dropped Progressive since the social media debacle, but YouGov Brand Index, which measures consumer brand perception, says that Progressive took a sharp plunge to its lowest likability score in over four years.
Katie Fisher was killed when a man ran a red light in 2010 and struck her car—he was uninsured at the time, which meant that Progressive would have to cover the costs. Although Progressive said that the driver was defended by Nationwide, Fisher took to the Internet to say that not only was Progressive holding out on payment, but a Progressive lawyer identified himself as such in court and continuously conferred with the defense throughout the trial.
What really did Progressive in for consumer relations was the brash way it responded to Fisher’s claims via social media. When the post went viral, Progressive autotweeted out a generic message over and over again to angry Tweeters: “This is a tragic case, and our sympathies go out to Mr. Fisher and his family for the pain they’ve had to endure. We fully investigated this claim and relevant background, and feel we properly handled the claim within our contractual obligations. Again, this is a tragic situation, and we’re sorry for everything Mr. Fisher and his family have gone through.”
Progressive’s smiling spokesperson Flo, who some suspect will be discontinued due to this massive PR fail, was icing on the cake:
The social media controversy emerged in mid August, and YouGov measured that Progressive’s Buzz score “bottomed out on Thursday, August 23rd with no sign of upturn yet.”
YouGov notes that “the biggest Buzz score gap between Progressive and Nationwide in 2012 before the court case crisis was 6 points on March 14th, with Nationwide ahead 17 to Progressive’s 11 score. Now that margin is 10.”