Phoenix Home Life targets ad effort at newly wealthy

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Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance Co. is going after new money with its first branding effort focused on wealth management.

The insurer this month breaks a campaign from Emmerling Post, New York, to market its investment management services for wealthy individuals. Although spending is estimated at a modest $5 million, it represents a significant upgrade in Phoenix's efforts.

"The objective here is to build brand awareness and do it in an intelligent way that positions them as someone who knows wealth management," said Steve Wakeen, exec VP-general manager of the agency.

Under the headline "Money. It's just not what it used to be," the print ads feature a study in contrasts to highlight how the nature of wealth has changed since the 1980s. One spread juxtaposes a queen in Elizabethan regalia with a young woman in black leather and a tiara.

"Some people still inherit wealth, the rest of the us have no choice but to earn it," reads the copy.

Another ad features a gray-haired gentleman and a young man with the line "New money is different than old money. For one thing, it's younger."

BUYS NEW TITLES

The media plan also took a different tack, moving beyond financial magazines to include lifestyle books read by the well-to-do, said Mr. Wakeen.

The overall push includes co-sponsoring events with magazines. Among the planned events are gallery receptions organized by Art & Antiques; literary evenings at New York's Algonquin Hotel with The Atlantic Monthly; and jazz and classical music concerts co-sponsored by Fortune and Time.

A sneak preview of the campaign appeared in the Dec. 31 "Person of the Century" issue of Time, but the bulk of the campaign breaks in February issues.

TV and radio spots will likely follow later in the year.

The campaign's main insight is that wealth in the U.S. has changed from an exclusive domain of middle-aged white males who inherited their holdings to a more diverse, younger set of self-made millionaire entrepreneurs.

MORE MILLIONAIRES

Mr. Wakeen noted that Emmerling Post's research found 80% of wealthy Americans today are first-generation millionaires.

"There is a huge rise in the number of millionaires who are younger, and they are `time impoverished,' " said Michele Farley, VP of corporate communications at Phoenix.

She noted that market research studies found the number of U.S. households with more than $1 million in assets jumped from 1.8 million in 1990 to 6.7 million in 1998 and the percentage of U.S. millionaires under 55 years old rose from 26% to 45%

The healthy stock market and a boom in technology and entrepreneurial companies since the late 1980s have created a wave of new millionaires, and investment companies are increasingly chasing their assets. The companies that master selling wealth management services will reap the biggest benefits, Mr. Wakeen said.

"Everybody is going to get a piece of the pie. The key is how well it's leveraged in marketing communications," he said.

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