Dr. Rick, the mustachioed self-help guru from
Progressive Insurance, has been lighting up our TV screens for almost a year and a half now. If you haven’t seen them, each ad features a character called Dr. Rick, portrayed by actor Bill Glass, as he teaches a young adult how to stave off old age.
We’re not talking wrinkles here, but the behaviors associated with aging, like wearing pants really high, or marveling at how many different brands of bottled water exist. The commercials end with the tagline: "Progressive can’t save you from becoming your parents, but we can save you money when you bundle home and auto with us."
Progressive struck gold with the ads. They have racked up millions of views on YouTube and propelled Glass into the big time. His character’s fake mustache has also won a few fans, with viewers affectionately referring to it as the "dad ‘stache." But Glass himself has another name for his furry co-star!
Read on to learn more about Dr. Rick, and if you are shopping around for
car insurance, don’t forget to compare quotes with
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What’s the fuss about the Dr. Rick Progressive commercials?
There’s a reason that insurance companies like Progressive lean into comedy for their advertising. Their product is boring! Nobody is going to engage with a 30 second ad that sounds like your policy fine print.
By inciting laughter, serious products like car and home insurance can be presented in a friendlier, more approachable way. A likeable mascot helps consumers feel closer to a company.
Washington Postexplains that the Dr. Rick commercials excel because they are "simple in concept and surprising in content." With this potent combination, Dr. Rick has managed to stand out, even in the crowded field of funny insurance ads.
The WP also points out that Dr. Rick came into our lives in April 2020, a very dark and scary period in our recent history. His gentle humor was in stark contrast to the somber tone of other commercials, which talked about "new normals" and "uncertain times."
Dr. Rick’s popularity has been helped by a supporting cast of experienced improv actors, whose comedic timing and ability to really "get" the joke has elevated the commercials above the competition.
And finally, Progressive’s Dr. Rick ads have cross-generational appeal. Kids get to laugh at the absurdity of adulthood, while adults can relate to the notion of becoming one’s parents, while trying (and failing) to understand new trends.
Progressive has achieved what every nationwide marketing strategy sets out to do, and that is to infiltrate pop culture: "You need Dr. Rick" has become a colloquialism for "You’re behaving like your dad!" A kinder version of "Ok Boomer!"
Who is Bill Glass and what about his mustache?
Bill Glass, now aged 49, is the actor who plays Dr. Rick. He started out doing improv comedy in his native Chicago, before moving to California to pursue an acting career. He has appeared in several successful shows, including Justified, The League, and most recently, Rutherford Falls.
While he may have the inside track on Progressive’s ad campaign, Glass is not immune to the dangers of becoming like his dad. Quoted by the Washington Post, he says ""I’ve caught myself running around the house turning off lights, going, ‘Do we have to have all the lights on?’"
Despite the popularity of Dr. Rick, the actor is humble about his own contribution, instead pointing to the fake mustache donned by his character.
Glass has nicknamed the mustache "The Beast," and while nobody is denying it gives him a certain air of authority, Glass’s acting chops and relatable demeanor are the real driving forces behind the character's enduring popularity.