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Progressive Insurance: Paying a Lawyer to Defend Your Sister’s Killer

Heatherman, R., Swanepoel, I., and O’Rourke, J. S. (Editor)
February 2, 2018
North America
Strategy & General Management, Ethics & Social Justice, Marketing & Sales
13 pages
Brand Management, Conflict Management, customer communication, ethics, social media
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.7)
Average rating: 

Progressive Insurance faced a widespread public relations crisis when Matt Fisher took to his personal Tumblr site to post a scathing account of his family’s experience with the company who insured his deceased sister. The blog entry went “viral” overnight, panning Progressive’s use of their attorney to seemingly assist in the defense of the driver who collided into his sister’s automobile, taking her life. This case examines the moral, economic, and legal views of business decision-making, as well as the social media consequences of a perceived imbalance between the three approaches. The question for Progressive Insurance is how to best mitigate the negative consequences of the current social media crisis and to avoid any recurrence. 

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. To highlight social media’s growing impact on a company’s reputation.
  2. To demonstrate the importance of including social media in a company’s communication strategy.
  3. To provide an example of the interplay of ethical, legal, and economic decision-making.
  4. To illustrate how a company’s financial performance is significantly impacted when customers start distrusting the company’s corporate values.