As a visual brand the ‘man’ graced a wide range of advertising and marketing materials, sometimes centrally and sometimes as a corner logo. The ‘man from the Prudential’ was an ideal average, anonymous, respectable and safe even while reassuring customers that they, of course, were not average or anonymous to the company.
As a market device that not only marketed but was part of the product, the good, average agent worked to enrol customers and render life insurance calculable. Twentieth century industrial life marketing eschewed the mortality statistics of nineteenth century insurance promotion to focus instead on a way of capitalising on the idea of averageness that struck a chord with consumers’ emotional needs for safety, belonging and respectability.
McFall, L. (2011) ‘A “good, average man”: calculation and the limits of statistics in enrolling insurance customers’, The Sociological Review. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 59(4), pp. 661–684. [link]