Principal Financial Abandons Illustrations, Debuts New Campaign

Financial Services Company Tries to Better Identify With Global Consumers in New Push From TBWA

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The Principal Financial Group has retired its cartoons and is moving into real life. The Des Moines, Iowa-based insurance and asset management company is unveiling a marketing campaign on Monday that is designed to better explain, and humanize, its financial services for customers. The effort replaces the long-running illustrations of spokesman Eddie.

The first spot, "Moving," depicts a woman juggling a career and motherhood, and though life doesn't turn out the way she expected, it all works out in the end. The commercial will debut in both 30-second and 60-second versions. The campaign, created by agency of record TBWA, is the result of a year of research into Principal's customers, which number 19.1 million worldwide.

"Everybody was looking for a more human company," explained Beth Brady, who joined as senior VP and chief marketing officer in 2014, noting that the financial services industry often confuses people, which leads to inertia. "This isn't about finances, this is about life and people want to live their best life," said Ms. Brady.

In addition to the "Moving" spot, Principal will also air a second commercial, also in 30-and 60-second versions. Last week, the company unveiled a logo designed by Lippincott, which has abandoned the signature triangle and now features new typography and a rounded P. Ms. Brady said the new work will help resonate with consumers on a global scale. Principal has offices in 18 different countries. The company's Eddie cartoons, which helped explain financial goals, did not particularly work for the brand in a lot of countries, she added. Principal featured Eddie in a retirement-focused spot in the fall.

"It was a smart way to take something we were proud of and not just shove it under the carpet, but retire it with some dignity," said Ms. Brady, noting that the firm offers retirement services as well.

The TV spots, which should run throughout the spring and fall, will be supported by a digital and social media push as well. Though Ms. Brady declined to disclose how much Principal is spending, she noted that it's more than in years past -- the brand is on primetime TV this year for the first time in a decade, for example. Principal spent nearly $9 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2015, according to Kantar Media.

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