Reginald VelJohnson Stars as Progressive's 'TV Dad'

Father knows best ... about insurance

"He's kind and he's funny, and he's also mustachioed. He solves all your problems by the end of every episode."

Meet "TV Dad," Progressive's latest commercial character, portrayed sitcom-style by Reginald VelJohnson in spots that began dropping last week.

Appropriately enough, Dad debuts in a prime-time series opening-credits spoof, complete with happy-snappy theme-song. It boasts the lyrics above, plus this promise: "Unlike your real dad, he never hollers. And he tells you how Progressive can save you lots of dollars!"

It's cute how Reg's name keeps flashing on screen: "Starring..." "Featuring..." "Introducing..." "Special appearance by..." 

And here's a proper "episode," with Dad getting the last word amid copious canned laughter: 

Arnold Worldwide developed the campaign, with Tom Kuntz directing. 

"People are seeing insurance ads all the time, and a lot of the language we want to use can feel familiar or even worn out at this point, no matter how true or compelling it is," says agency CCO Sean McBride. "So, our idea was essentially, 'If you're not going to listen to us, who would you listen to?' And obviously there's a rich history with TV parents, especially TV parents from sitcoms, dishing out the perfect advice at the perfect moment."

Of course, character-driven commercials are a matter of policy at Progressive, with Flo, Jamie, Dr. Rick and Motaur enjoying traction (plus Jon Hamm, as himself, joining for a flight last year). This new work extends that strategy and skewers pop culture tropes.

Thing is, TV dads and sitcoms feel like too-easy targets. The execution's fun, and VelJohnson nails it. But the premise seems tired, the kind of self-aware shtick we've seen many times before.

How about casting Jamie as Dad's wacky neighbor? Couldn't hurt.

"We've had success with characters because we've had the discipline and good fortune to let those characters develop," says McBride. "Work centered around characters tends to get better the more we get to know them. A construct can turn into a formula. But a character can grow and grow,"


Client: Progressive Insurance
Agency: Arnold Worldwide
Chief Creative Officer: Sean McBride
SVP, Group Creative Director: Donnell Johnson
Creative Directors: Tom Kelly, Doug Harry, Thomas Hair
Associate Creative Director: Roberta Totaro\
Art Director: Lacie Johnson, Jerome Marucci
Copywriter: Courtney Hoenicke, Steve McElligott
SVP, Executive Producer: Sean Vernaglia
SVP, Director of Business Affairs: Camara Price
Chief Client Officer: Val Bettini
VP, Marketing Director: Caroline Kozub
EVP, Brand Strategy Director: Catherine Sheehan
Associate Director, Brand Strategy: Kylee Donovan
VP, Digital Strategy Director: Britt Teravainen
Jr. Digital Strategist: Ugonna Nwaoba
VP, Director of Project Management: Priscilla Patterson
Jr. Project Manager: Carlos Linares

Production Company: MJZ
Director: Tom Kuntz
Editorial Company: Cosmo Street
Editors: Aaron Langley
VFX: Brickyard
Color: The Color Refinery
Colorist: Rob Bessette
Casting: Clockwork Casting
Music: JSM Music
Sound Design: Soundtrack
Sound Engineer: Mike Secher

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