A friend emailed me recently asking if I knew anyone who is retiring this year. A producer friend of hers is working on TV videos for Prudential that feature FOF women—and men—telling their real-life stories on “Day One” of their retirement and she was looking for subjects. I don’t know a soul who is retiring, but I was curious to see what Prudential was doing.
Before I tell you my reaction, here’s how Prudential explains its campaign, which it’s calling Bring Your Challenges: “Connecting emotionally with consumers is an important step in driving brand preference and motivating action,” says Colin McConnell, head of Prudential Advertising. “These real-life stories make Bring Your Challenges hit home on the number one financial challenge—retirement. We hope the ads leave people wanting to hear more from Prudential,” Colin explains.
“YICK!” is the only emotional reaction these “real-life stories” elicited from me. The videos are depressing. Think AARP LAND TO THE NTH POWER. I didn’t relate to a single person. The “retirees” act like they don’t have an ounce of energy. Even when one of them is talking about his grandchildren, he seems depressed. The music is lethargic, too. The message is off the mark. The photography, however, is nice and artsy.
“The campaign completely misses. First, it talks about ‘retirement,’ but nobody is retiring,” said Brent Bouchez, founder of Agency five/o, the only ad agency in the United States that focuses exclusively on marketing to the FOF generation.
If Prudential wants to get pre-retirement FOFs into using its financial planning services, why does it resort to portraying those who are newly retired in such a sad light? “Take a look at the video about a man named Mujahid. It makes you want to just put a bullet in your head instead of retiring,” Brent said. “It’s almost like he’s serving his first day of prison.” Is the campaign designed to scare 45 and 55-year-olds into thinking, ‘I don’t want to be like that when I’m 65!’
If Prudential and its ad agency really understood the FOF generation (instead of thinking they do), they would have produced videos of upbeat, energetic, passionate “retirees” who were clients of Prudential before they retired. The message would be: “Prudential’s financial planning expertise gave me the security I wanted and deserved when I retired. So now I can spend the winter on Turks & Caicos.”
One car company featured an FOF couple sneaking a ride in their son’s luxury car when he returned home for the holidays. Now, that’s the spirit!
We ARE an energetic, passionate, upbeat generation, whether we’re 45 or 65. And we’re not retiring. Even if we’re leaving our long-time jobs, we’re becoming entrepreneurs and finding creative and profitable ways to use our passions. There are certainly people in every generation who don’t fit the prevailing attitude and profile of their peers. They’ve lost their jobs and maybe their homes. But those folks certainly are not retiring, which makes the Prudential campaign even more idiotic.
The only thing Prudential’s campaign will succeed in doing is steering FOFs to its competition.