A challenging topic inspires award winning advertising

Two different clients, two different agencies, two different continents, two campaigns that elevate the typical quality of retirement advertising.

For years, insurance and investment companies, eager to get their hands on your hard earned savings ran some pretty innocuous advertising. Sure, there was benchmark work like John Hancock’s original “Real Life, Real Answers” campaign from Hill, Holiday in 1984 (a great year for advertising), or Fallon’s “Make a Plan” for Prudential in the the days when Bill Westbrook helmed the shop. But typically retirement advertising has relied on the classic stereotypical images and promises: the inn on the coast of Maine, the vintage Porsche convertible.

The last two years, however, have seen some more impressive efforts. For client MLC, Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne portrayed retirement as an endangered species and created a digital museum to showcase the exhibit.


The companion TV spot, Save Retirement, reveals that the expected image we all associate with retirement is something else entirely. It’s a clever spot for sure. But while better than most category efforts it doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t know. The dialog and performance capture the emotional longing perfectly, but the V/O at the end falls a bit flat.

The digital museum, too, has merit. I’m not sure it works as well as the TV spot, but it does the job of acknowledging the false claims and expectations of the category and offers easy access to facts and information about how long your money might last.

For me, however, Droga 5's work for Prudential deserves the highest praise. The agency developed social, shareable work that both educates and inspires. And they used the ideal formula: do something, invite participation that generates content, document the event, make the content shareable, call attention to it with advertising.


This case study video for the Longevity (Stickers) Experiment dramatizes the challenge in a fresh and provocative way. It may not be as stunning a commercial as MLC’s, but the story is certainly as attention-worthy.

The Prudential website, I might live how long, goes even further, informing and educating in an execution less contrived than MLC’s. Along with initiatives like Day One and Chapter Two , which tell the personal stories of regular people as they enter retirement, Prudential and Droga 5 have brought us work that rivals John Hancock.

Both these recent campaigns exceed the pathetic efforts that typically characterize the category. One is clever; one is straight. One feels like advertising; one comes across as information? They’re both good, but in this case straight and informative win. Prudential elevates the entire conversation to a more thoughtful and meaningful place. BBDO Clemenger, while creating solid advertising, doesn’t go as far.

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