Todd Thompson, '16

Todd Thompson | Digital Media Production | Class of 2016

Alumnus Shares Inspiring Path from Small Town to Working on Exciting Video Projects for Progressive


Todd Thompson '16, a first-generation college student from a small town in Ashtabula County, never imagined he'd one day be filming social media content with Progressive Insurance's iconic fictional saleswoman “Flo” in Los Angeles. College wasn’t on his radar until a teacher recognized his talent for video, urging him to pursue it. But today, Thompson works as a creative visual specialist at one of the biggest companies in Northeast Ohio and has worked with some of the largest names in the entertainment industry.

“I felt like my GPA was never great; I had teachers kicking me out the door in high school,” said Thompson. “I should not have been a success story.”

As a digital media production major at Kent State, Thompson met Bobby Makar, an alumnus and adjunct professor whose unwavering support and guidance became instrumental in Thompson's journey of self-discovery and pursuit of his passions.

“Bobby Makar was a transformative figure in my life,” said Thompson, “When I came to college, I was kind of lost. I didn’t have a lot of leadership growing up and never felt like I fit in anywhere. Bobby was just who he was; he didn’t put up a front, and it made me realize you can own the parts of you that others might not fully accept.”

Makar died in 2020, and a scholarship in his honor now supports digital media production students.

Thompson also found inspiration and support at IdeaBase, the College of Communication and Information’s student-powered design agency that works with campus departments and local businesses on design, marketing and multimedia projects. There, he helped begin IdeaBase’s video department, which has since become a significant part of the agency.

“IdeaBase really taught me how to do my job. It was literally like being thrown in the fire, but sometimes that’s necessary,” said Thompson, “You walk out of IdeaBase with a portfolio of real work.”

After college, Thompson moved to New York and because of his work with banking clients at IdeaBase, he secured a job with a small advertising agency that served similar clients. While in New York City, he made connections on film sets, including at a company moving from Los Angeles to New York, planning to turn an old school into a movie studio.

“I was like, I gotta get on set; this is too cool. So, I literally went on set one day they were filming, and I just started talking,” said Thompson.

That day paved the way for Thompson's involvement in video production for various movies, notably one starring Pete Davidson and Jon Cryer.


“It was so exciting and thrilling to work on set that I just had this itch. I needed more,” recounted Thompson.

Thompson also ventured into new career prospects, leading to a job working for an esports team until a company acquisition occurred right before the pandemic. That prompted Thompson and his family to move back to Cleveland.

There, Thompson became a creative video specialist at Progressive, thanks in part to a close friend and former colleague at IdeaBase.

“There’s no dull day here, and that’s really what I’ve always wanted,” said Thompson. “I’ve done TikToks, filmed motorcycles in the deserts of Arizona, filmed with Baker Mayfield; we’ve got all of these different campaigns that I get to touch.”

In his role at Progressive, Thompson finds fulfillment not only in commercial projects but also in contributing to nonprofit initiatives. Through programs like donating cars to veterans and creating rebranded videos for local nonprofits, Thompson leverages his skills to make a lasting impact in the community.

Though he has never stayed in one place long, Thompson is now coming up on four years of working at Progressive. He credits much of his success to the guidance he received from Kent State.

“I think the people at Kent State — the professors and the staff — are what made the experience so valuable to me,” said Thompson. “I appreciate them seeing something in me because, for a lot of my life, I didn’t know what it was. Kent does a good job finding people who truly care. They find some way to make a personal connection and impact with the individual students that go in and out of those doors.”

To view some of Thompson's work, visit his website: