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Progressive, Matt Fisher, and the Social Media Lesson We Learned
By: Christine Geraci
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The concept of social media as a vehicle for change is once again in the news, thanks to a sad blog post gone viral. 
 
Matt Fisher's sister Kate died tragically in a car accident. Fisher's family filed a lawsuit to prove the other driver was at fault in the crash and thus collect on Kate's auto insurance policy with Progressive Corp. In court, an attorney for Progressive sat next to the defendant in the suit, and "audaciously" tried to prove that it was in fact Kate who was responsible for the accident and thus, her own death.
 
Matt Fisher was furious. And as the Marketwatch article on this incident explains, Fisher took to his Tumblr blog to fire off a rant. 
 
“If you are insured by Progressive and they owe you money, they will defend your killer in court in order to not pay you your policy,” Fisher wrote in the post. 
 
The response was dramatic, to say the least. 
 
In the end, Progressive ended up paying more than it actually had to, procedurally speaking. Progressive reps said the company participated in the lawsuit because it had real evidence suggesting that Kate was indeed at fault in the accident. The company stated it handled this case just as consistently and by the book as any other. 
 
But none of this mattered. It was Fisher's anger at the Progressive lawyer that sparked such public outcry via social media. The audacity with which the lawyer argued a dead woman's culpability outraged even complete strangers who were unfamiliar with the details.
 
And in the end, it didn't matter if Kate was really at fault or not. A grieving family felt disrespected by a company whose main objective, as they see it, is not to take care of their customers, but to turn a profit.  
 
So what do we learn from all of this? 
 
People are creatures of passion, not logic. In turn, social networks are driven by passion. 
 
But this, in my humble opinion, is not a bad thing.
 
True, sometimes that passion is for dancing cats or people falling down on their butts. But other times, that passion is for justice, fairness, honesty, and decency. 
 
People — and companies — will bemoan the fact that social media expose them on a viral scale, as was the case here with the Fisher family vs. Progressive. 
 
But in the end, it is what it is. Someone is always watching. Always. All companies can (and should) do is be honest and responsible. Because if they're not, the viral fallout will be even worse. 


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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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