Should Progressive’s Flo Win a Spot on Madison Avenue Walk of Fame?

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“Can Progressive’s perky Flo make mincemeat out of the Jolly Green Giant? For that matter, can the Old Spice dude clean Mr. Clean’s clock?” That’s the question being crowdsourced via social media to determine winners in the eighth annual online competition for the top two U.S. ad icons and slogans. 

Voting kicks off this week on event sponsor Buzzfeed.com, and runs through September 30.

The winners will be permanently installed on New York’s Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame, located between 42nd and 50th Streets and already adorned with the likes of Juan Valdez, Orville Redenbacher, Mr. Peanut, the M&Ms, Tony the Tiger and the Budweiser Clydesdales. 

Leveraging Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, 20 icons are in the running, but only two will be immortalized during Advertising Week 2011 in New York, October 3-7.

2011 icon contenders include General Mills’ Jolly Green Giant, the Kia Hamsters, P&G’s Mr. Clean, the Energizer Bunny, Old Spice Man (aka The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, or Isaiah Mustafa), and Flo, Progressive’s perky/pesky insurance clerk.

“It’s the ultimate seal of approval from consumers,” comments Matt Scheckner, executive director of sponsor Advertising Week, to USA Today. “This will become viral,” he says, fully (and ambitiously) expecting at least one million consumers to vote.[more]

Ad Age columnist Bob Garfield, however, says consumers can’t fast forward through ads (and their mascots) fast enough. “It’s pitiful to see Madison Avenue imagining itself as beloved, when it’s barely relevant to the public at large. Madison Avenue can have all the parades and celebrations it wants. The best thing you can say about this is that it’s self-delusional.”

Slogans are also part of the competition, such as Nike’s “Just Do It” and Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority’s “What Happens Here, Stays Here.”

“At BuzzFeed, we believe that things have fundamentally changed and advertising is now social,” said Andy Wiedlin, CRO. “These brands share our view that content, story, and characters are the new advertising.” 

Progressive issued a press release saying Flo is delighted to be in the running, but keeping it in perspective: “I’m pleased as punch just to be nominated and winning would be such an honor,” she said. “But my life goals are pretty simple–to ride a unicorn through a waterfall of glitter; and save people hundreds on car insurance. Right now, I like my chances of accomplishing both.” 

“I’m calling on Flo Nation—especially her 3.1 million Facebook fans—to make their voices heard,” said Jeff Charney, Progressive’s CMO, Jeff Charney, is more transparent: “Vote early and vote often. The competition’s fierce, but with your help Flo’s smile will soon light up Madison Avenue.” 

Folly, fun or delusional? Comments welcome.

The complete List of 2011 nominees:

Allstate’s Mayhem, Progressive’s Flo, the Perky Insurance Clerk, The Kia Hamsters, Sparky the Fire Dog (National Fire Protection Association), The California Raisins, The E*TRADE Babies, Dos Equis – The Most Interesting Man in the World, US DOT‘s Crash Test Dummies Vince and Larry, Energizer Bunny, General Mills‘ Jolly Green Giant, Keebler Elves, Rice Krispies‘ Snap Crackle and Pop, The Coca-Cola Polar Bears, The French’s Mustard Man, Mucinex Mr. Mucus, McGruff the Crime Dog (US National Crime Prevention Council), Old Spice‘s The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, P&G‘s Mr. Clean, Subway’s Jared, and Smokey Bear (US Forest Service).
Don’t Leave Home Without It (American Express), We Move People (Bombardier), What’s in Your Wallet (Capital One), A Diamond is Forever (DeBeers), The Best Part of Waking Up is Folger’s in Your Cup (Folger’s), Is It In You? (Gatorade), It’s Not TV, It’s HBO (HBO), What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar? (Klondike), What Happens Here, Stays Here (Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority), I Live for This (Major League Baseball), Hungry? Grab A Snickers (Snickers) I Want My MTV (MTV), Just Do It (Nike), I < 3 NY(New York Department of Economic Development), Ideas for Life (Panasonic), Made from the Best Stuff on Earth (Snapple), Think Outside the Bun (Taco Bell), Be All That You Can Be (US Army), Maybe She’s Born With It. Maybe It’s Maybelline (Maybelline), Got Milk? (The National Milk Processor Board)
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