SUNAMERICA READIES BIGGEST EFFORT NEW CAMPAIGN PITCHES ASSURANCE FOR THE JITTERY: DEATH BENEFITS FOR MUTUAL FUNDS

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In the face of global uncertainty, market volatility and public concern about mutual-fund investing, SunAmerica Asset Management last week launched the largest ad campaign in its history.

The ads tout what several mutual fund and insurance companies are hailing as the panacea to investor jitters: mutual funds that carry death benefits.

MORE THAN $10 MIL

SunAmerica is mum on the cost of the campaign, but it exceeds the $10 million spent on its last effort. Asher & Partners, Los Angeles, handles.

Death benefits, launched earlier this year by SunAmerica and American Skandia Life Assurance Co., are, at their most basic, term life insurance policies held on the value of balances in mutual fund accounts. The insurance protects against loss of principal and offers beneficiaries a guaranteed annual return on the original investments.

Prudential Insurance Co. of America entered the fray last month with its own death-benefit product.

J. Steven Neamtz, exec VP at SunAmerica, said baby boomers express the most interest in the product.

"Young baby boomers don't see the market the same way their fathers do," he said.

PRUDENTIAL HOLDS OFF

SunAmerica's campaign includes weekly page ads in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as appearances at trade shows and ads in trade papers.

Prudential is holding off on advertising until it feels its sales staff is familiar with the product line, called PruTector.

Consumer advertising, handled in-house, could begin later this month.

Daniel Darst, senior VP-national marketing director at American Skandia, said its nearly year-old AS GoodWil product offering has been popular and is a "good transition product for estate planning."

The company is planning a campaign, themed "Mutual fund ideas."

Ms. Littman is a free-lance writer for Investment News.

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