Security, stability and pedigree dominate the marketing messages
of US life insurers these days, as providers try to reassure
Prudential Financial joined the reassurance
business recently, launching a major advertising campaign
highlighting the company’s solutions for businesses facing a
variety of challenges in the post-financial crisis environment. The
multimillion-dollar advertising campaign centres around Prudential
answering an ‘SOS’ call from corporations looking for a partner
with the financial strength and solutions for their retirement
plans, asset management and group life insurance needs.
“Companies are looking for help to address the
unprecedented challenges they face as a result of the financial
crisis, the continuing difficult economic environment and long-term
business trends,” Bernard Winograd, Prudential Financial’s COO for
US Businesses, told LII.
“This campaign focuses on the solutions
Prudential is uniquely positioned to provide to help companies
address the challenges and risks they face.”
The Morse code SOS-themed campaign was
launched on 18 October with a full-page advertisement in The New
York Times. The print advertisements use a graphic representation
of SOS in Morse code in front of business leaders looking for
“Who can help rescue our 401(k) plans?,” “Who
can steer us through uncertain markets?,” and “Who can save us from
the risks of disability?,” the advertisements ask. The response:
National television ads began on 15
October. One of the ads depicts skyscrapers sending out the Morse
code signal for SOS with flashing window lights. The campaign will
also include internet advertising, airport dioramas, elevator
advertisements and Prudential’s electronic billboard at Times
Square, New York. The advertisements build on the company’s “Who?
Pru” advertising campaign, which has been running throughout the
year across a wide range of media platforms.
“Prudential is an ideal partner for many
companies right now because of the unique perspective we offer,
combined with our proven strength and stability,” said Tom Burke,
vice-president of advertising at Prudential, in a statement.
“Our new campaign is a reflection of what is
already happening in the market. Companies are seeking us out,
looking to our institutional businesses for new solutions.”
The spots will also be seen on various sports
programming, including National Football League regular- and
post-season games on NBC, CBS and ESPN, college football and
basketball ABC and CBS, PGA and LPGA on television channels.
Tour events, NBC’s figure skating programmes
and local sponsorships with the New Jersey Devils ice hockey team,
Rutgers football and basketball and Seton Hall basketball.
The media buy also includes cable networks
such as Bloomberg, Fox Business News, CNBC, CNN, Headline News, The
History Channel and HGTV.
Print advertising will continue running in
national newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street
Journal, Barron’s, Financial Times and Investor’s Business Daily
regularly until the third week of December. These placements will
continue in January, Prudential Financial said.
The campaign will be running in magazines such
as Fortune, Forbes, BusinessWeek and The Economist, and will have a
heavy presence in key trade publications, including Pensions &
Investments, CFO, Institutional Investor, PlanSponsor/PlanAdviser,
HR Executive and Bloomberg Markets.
Guardian Life joins in
Prudential is not alone in seeking
to reassure wary investors of the need for life insurance coverage
in troubled times. The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
also recently launched a new awareness campaign designed to
highlight the important role life insurance should play in a total
Anchored by a new website, the campaign, “Life
Insurance as an Asset Class,” considers life insurance far beyond
its traditional – and essential – function to protect the financial
security of loved ones in the event of death.
“Thanks to industry efforts such as Life
Insurance Awareness Month, Americans are well aware of the
importance of the death benefit,” Maria Umbach, Guardian’s
vice-president and chief marketing officer for individual products
distribution, explained to LII.
“Our intention is to promote the ‘uncommon
knowledge’ that life insurance – participating whole life, in
particular – also needs to be part of the discussion every time
one’s portfolio is considered for lifetime uses.
“The recent stock market collapse was
devastating to so many individual holdings because it undercut both
equities and bonds,” Umbach added.
“People who thought their portfolios were
adequately diversified across stocks, bonds and traditional fixed
assets were unprepared for the impact to their portfolios.
“In contrast, whole life was one of the few
financial assets that did not lose value; indeed, many
policyholders found that it was the only statement they looked
forward to opening over the past year.”
Signs of recovery
The moves by Prudential and The
Guardian come as signs of life emanate from the life market. New
York Life reported recently that its life insurance sales have
increased 8 percent through September over 2008, the best
nine-month start to a year on record for the company.
For the most part, this growth is
being driven by increased sales of both permanent insurance and
term products, New York Life said.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance said that
whole life insurance premium is up 9 percent and policy count is up
21 percent since the beginning of the year.
And Lincoln Financial Group – another insurer
that has been marketing itself as a staid alternative to equity
investments – said that MoneyGuard, its linked-benefit universal
life insurance policy with a long-term care rider, and term life
insurance sales increased over 60 percent year-over-year in the
third quarter, demonstrating the strength of the diversified
The message might be a bit dull, but in times
like these, reassuring customers seeking a refuge seems the best
possible play. It is marketing safety in perilous times, and it is