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What's Next for MetLife After Snoopy? Ads Focus on the Workforce

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MetLife Inc. has outgrown Snoopy, a new campaign from the 148-year-old insurer makes clear. Debuting Sunday, a 30-second, quick-moving commercial emphasizes MetLife's role in the workforce and specifies its importance for the four generations of employees today, from millennials to boomers. "We're MetLife, and we're for the workforce," a voiceover says.

The spot, which will air through Dec. 23 and be supplemented by print ads and online video, is the first new campaign following MetLife's break from the Peanuts brand in October. At the time, the insurer revealed a new logo and tagline, "Navigating Life Together," and announced that the 31-year-old relationship with Peanuts had come to a close. While Snoopy and the Charlie Brown gang had worked for MetLife in previous decades as a way to make the company friendlier to consumers, the association had grown diluted in recent years, said Esther Lee, global chief marketing officer. The new branding is a way to move the company forward during a time of mounting financial pressures for working consumers.

"This new campaign exemplifies our shift as a U.S. business to primarily focus on the workplace—it really redefines who we are and that we're putting the workforce at the center of what we do," said Hugh Dineen, senior VP-chief marketing officer at MetLife USA. "This is not just an ad, it really is the start of a multi-tiered strategy in the U.S."

The new work also serves to further separate MetLife from its U.S. retail business, which it plans to spin off into a new offering, named Brighthouse Financial. San Francisco-based Argonaut, which won lead creative duties for MetLife's U.S. business last year, created the new marketing.

"No one understands or has a deeper knowledge of the workforce than MetLife," said Rick Condos, chief creative officer at Argonaut, noting that the brand invented group benefits for employees a century ago. "This campaign celebrates the very engine of the U.S. economy, companies large and small that are striving to attract, retain and care for the talented individuals who make up their individual workforces."

Mr. Dineen said that next year MetLife will market more content for customers, across multiple mediums, that includes more specifics for the Millennial, Y, X and Boomer generations. He declined to specify a budget for the new campaign, but said it is "dialed up" from what the company traditionally spends. Last year, MetLife spent $55 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media.