Principal ads target growing benefit market

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Principal Financial Group will appeal to the self-interest of employees and small-business owners in its first ad campaign from Publicis, Chicago.

TV spots break Sept. 17 during NBC's Olympic Games programming. Print ads will run in weeklies, as well as in Kiplinger's Personal Finance and Money.

The campaign also will include online, promotions and public relations efforts, said Mary O'Keefe, senior VP of Principal Financial.

Publicis won the $25 million account in December. Brown Marketing Communications, Chicago, had held the account for 25 years.

In April, Principal Financial announced plans to move from a mutual company to a public company, but Ms. O'Keefe said the de-mutualization was not a factor in the new ad campaign. Instead, the effort targets the growing market for employee benefit programs.

While many financial companies are broadening their messages and diversifying their businesses, Principal Financial decided to concentrate on promoting its key line of business, Ms. O'Keefe said.

"We have a broad array of financial solutions, but we want to emphasize we have a leadership position [in employee benefits]," she said.

Print shows a photograph of a T-shirt that reads, "Take this job and love it," or a mug imprinted with the words, "Thank goodness it's Monday." TV spots will have a different look but follow the same idea, Ms. O'Keefe added.

The tag, "We know what you're working for," touches on both employees' interest in their financial future and the companies' interest in luring employees with benefits, said John Derbick, VP-account manager at Publicis.

"The No. 1 reason people work is for the money. . . . After the core driver of sheer money, you get into the goals and aspirations," Mr. Derbick said. As for the business owners, their core driver is the growth of their business, but they know growth comes when they can attract and keep good employees.

"The thrust of the campaign is `If you want happy employees, help them plan for their financial future,' " he said.

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