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Mutual of Omaha to start $30M b-to-b ad campaign to revive brand

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Omaha, Neb.--In a bid to breathe new life into its staid 92-year-old brand, The Mutual of Omaha Cos. will on Sept. 8 launch a $30 million TV and print advertising campaign, its first in more than a decade. The campaign was prompted by competition from its bigger financial conglomerate competitors, which are increasingly marketing insurance policies and annuities, product lines that Mutual of Omaha and other insurers used to have the corner on. The $15 billion company, which sells to businesses as well as consumers, will run ads on the major TV networks and cable. Its print ads will run in publications including Fortune and Sports Illustrated. Mutual of Omaha has been remaking itself as a full-services financial services provider, in a bid to compete with large conglomerates such as Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; its campaign is an effort to build its brand value with key b-to-b clients, including benefit administrators and financial advisers. The company's marketing efforts have been slim over the past decade, causing its well-recognized "Chief" logo to lose some of its brand ubiquity. The "Chief" logo will be featured in the upcoming campaign, though with a more "contemporary" look, according to a spokeswoman. She did not offer further details. "In terms of advertising and publicity, we elected to be somewhat silent in the last decade as we concentrated on serving our customers and building our business," said John Hildenbiddle, senior VP-brand management and public relations, in a statement. "We view this as more than a rebranding-it is a reawakening of one of America's flagship brands. It is a declaration of who we are and what we believe in." The campaign will run under the tagline "Begin today," and features b-to-b clients that have grown their businesses with financial help from Mutual of Omaha. The advertising tack is one that Mutual of Omaha's competitors-including MetLife Inc. and Prudential Financial-are increasingly taking. The company, whose campaign is being handled by ad agency Burnett Chicago, had its marketing heyday in the 1960s and 1970s with its "Wild Kingdom" TV program, hosted by the late Marlin Perkins. Since then, the "Wild Kingdom" brand has been kept alive, mostly through public relations outings by Jim Fowler, Perkins' long-time sidekick. The insurer plans more "Wild Kingdom" PR events, handled by Edelman Public Relations Worldwide.

--Philip B. Clark

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