Prudential Taps Real-Life Couples to Push Retirement Services

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You may think you're prepared for retirement, but chances are, you probably aren't. Financial firms have repeated that message frequently in recent years, but a new spot from Prudential paints a clearer picture. In the 60-second commercial, which begins airing Friday, real-life couples guess at how much money they will need for retirement and then walk across squares, each representing a year of time, to see how far they can get. Spoiler alert: not very far.

"It turned out a lot of people fell short of even the average length of retirement," said a voiceover. "Let's plan for income that lasts all our years of retirement."

The spot is the part of the Newark, N.J.-based Prudential's "Bring Your Challenges" campaign, now in its sixth year. Since 2013, the firm has been using more data visualization and behavioral insight to better connect with consumers, according to Niharika Shah, VP-head of brand marketing and advertising.

"Rather than throwing out stats and facts, the formula allows us to tell a people-powered story," says Shah, noting that people in the spot aren't given an idea beforehand of the task ahead in order to better capture more intimate moments and genuine reactions. She adds that one out of three people can't retire or don't have enough savings to live the life they desire.

The new work, which will feature a more robust marketing mix including print ads due out in September, sponsored content and holiday programming, comes at a time when Prudential is facing increased competition.

"The financial services incumbents are feeling more pressure than ever to compete, especially when it comes to investing," said Davis Janowski, senior analyst of digital wealth management at Forrester. "Given how technology is fueling a startup ecosystem that allows innovators to develop things more quickly than incumbent firms, things are even tougher."

In the life insurance category alone, this year has seen the launches of startup providers Ladder, Fabric and Tomorrow. They're following in the footsteps of already established players catering to the millennial set like Lemonade, which provides home insurance, and Oscar, which provides health insurance. They also have unrecognizable, yet cool-sounding names likely to entice the younger demographic eager not to follow the same brands as their parents.

Prudential, which spent $66.1 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media, worked with Droga5, a relationship that began in 2011, on the new spot. Shah notes that the company also has an in-house agency that collaborates with outside partners.

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