Ad Review: Prudential's 'Chapter 2' Inspires With Second Acts

Effort Features Retirees Who Aren't Ready for Mahjong and Early Dinners

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In 2011, Prudential and agency Droga5 took a slightly different approach to advertising about retirement services. No straight, boring talk of financial planning. But also no shots of youthful-looking retirees galloping across the globe or swing dancing or playing golf or snorting crushed up Viagra at seniors-only raves (that's probably not an actual thing, but it really should be).

Rather, "Day One," as it was called, asked real people to document their first day of retirement. The resulting short films and commercials captured the excitement of being free -- and the fear of stepping into a world of unknowns. How many years of work-free bliss will you have? What will you do with all that time? And, of course, have you put aside enough money so that you don't have to collect cans on the side of the road? As Creativity Editor Ann-Christine Diaz noted, "It was a little bit unsettling."

Which also made it effective. Planting a seed of fear can be good marketing, especially if it's fertilized with a bit of inspiration. Of course, there was some inspiration in "Day One." Viewers weren't left with the impression that Day One-ers were in dire straits.

But Prudential's follow-up, called "Chapter Two," has wheelbarrows full of inspiration. Through a series of web films, we are introduced to people who are using their second acts to do something other than squabbling about politics while playing Mahjong. Viewers will be introduced to Jed Stevenson, a retired newspaper man who is now a boxing coach; Yossie Ziff, a retired business owner who's gone back to teaching; and to Carol Lewis, above, a retired postal worker who is now a filmmaker and, in a nice twist, a director of one of the other shorts in this effort.

There's a long list of others in the works. Obviously, they're meant to do more than simply inspire. They get at the fact that people live a lot longer these days and retiring from the grind of your daily job doesn't have to mean retiring from life, or work for that matter. But dream "jobs" likely might not match your old lame job in terms of salary. And you might need to take classes. Either way, it wouldn't hurt to have money saved up that allows you to pursue these passion projects. And Prudential can help you with that.

Aside from the documentaries, the effort includes online ads, outdoor and radio, social media, as well as a dedicated website -- one of those cases where "infinite scroll" makes sense and keeps the viewer scrolling just to see what the next story is.

At the moment, it's unclear whether Prudential is going to bust any of these down into 30-second or 60-second spots for a national TV campaign. I'm not one to counsel blowing millions on TV just for the sake of it, but it would seem a missed opportunity -- and a shame -- not to draw more attention to such a good campaign.

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