How Prudential conquered content marketing

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And took home the gold
By Annabel Hodges, contributor. 23 May, 2017
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At the recent 23rd Annual FCS Portfolio Awards in New York City, Prudential won a massive 21 trophies including the top prize – the Judge’s Choice Award, for its event marketing campaign ‘The 4.01K Race for Retirement L.A’. This isn’t the first time Prudential has won big for its innovative marketing campaigns; we take a look at just how the financial brand has dominated a traditionally difficult commercial landscape with courageous, customer-focused content.

Winning the Race for Retirement

Prudential worked with their long-term creative agency Droga5 on ‘Race for Retirement’, which encouraged participants to pledge 1% of their annual earnings for retirement. Inspired by the US 4.01k scheme, the program involved real-world races, including a 4.01km fun run in Washington DC at the end of 2015 and an LA-based race in 2016. To date over 51,000 have taken the pledge, potentially worth almost US$3 billion collectively. The cleverly integrated campaign kicked off with a TV ad spot but also included a social workout app in partnership with Map My Fitness to add an element of gamification to the run, highly active social channels and rich media across cinema, online video, social and mobile.

A humanising approach to a difficult subject

This latest success builds on a repertoire of award-winning, forward-thinking campaigns Prudential has delivered over the last few years. Launched back in 2011, the brand’s overarching ‘Bring Your Challenges’ messaging saw Prudential named the 2012 FCS Financial Marketer of the Year. Content focused on human behaviours that directly relate to retirement: procrastination; following your peers; no forward thinking; and the assumption that you will always be well. VP and Head of Brand Marketing, Niharika Shah explains: “Our mission as a purposeful brand became to help people understand these behaviours in everyday language.”

The centrepiece of this campaign was the 2011 “Day One” video campaign, showing interviews with people on the first day of their retirement.

These stories added emotion and personality to the subject of retirement and were hosted online, on a microsite and on the Day One Facebook page.
The “Chapter Two” campaign that followed featured a series of documentaries and digital advertising alongside out of home and radio ads, telling the stories of people who were now starting to live their lifelong dreams, post-retirement.

Other innovative campaigns under the ‘Bring Your Challenges’ umbrella include the Prudential Stickers Experiment and the Prudential Magnets Experiment – both of which focus on exploring human psychology to personalise the concept of retirement savings. Their latest offering, the Prudential Balloons Experiment has garnered over one million views online. The campaigns are elevated through the narration of Harvard Psychology Professor Dan Gilbert. He’s a subject matter expert but also impartial, with charisma and personality to boot. This helps Prudential navigate commercial waters and be a more approachable, caring brand; one that tells us the truth.

Combining proximity and perspective

Though Prudential work closely with agencies, they also have their own 75 strong in-house agency, combining proximity to the business and brand with an external perspective. Shah believes this combination allows the brand a unique ability to “connect the dots” and reduce silo-ing.

Prudential’s in-house agency recently launched the first ever TV commercials for PGIM, Prudential’s rebranded investment management business - “Alpha Seekers” and “Urbanization”, and debuted four short films for the Individual Life Insurance department as part of its Masterpiece of Love campaign. With new campaigns and innovative approaches across their spectrum of services, they remain an inspiration to financial content marketers worldwide.

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Originally hailing from the UK, Sydneysider Annabel is a digital marketer with over a decade's experience working with global agencies and brands. A data and spreadsheet aficionado, she recently swapped SEO for motherhood and we eagerly await the analytics report! She is also maternally bilingual in French and English and speaks fluent Spanish.