financial services

TIAA Enlists Laila Ali For Initiative To Recognize 'Difference Makers'

The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund is commemorating its 100th anniversary by launching an initiative to celebrate 100 individuals in the nonprofit world who are making a powerful difference.

The company will give a total of $1 million in grants to honor the contributions of the 100, as part of the TIAA Difference Maker 100 program. The program will focus on people who teach, invent, inspire, cure, nurture and serve others. Those recognized will each receive $10,000 for the nonprofit where they work, to "to create a better world."

“Our Centennial presented a special opportunity for us to get really creative and try new things,”  Mark Elliot, chief marketing officer at TIAA, tells Marketing Daily. “Last year, we relaunched and modernized our brand, and that was a big meaningful program for us in terms of our media buy. This year, we’re going ‘big’ in a whole different way —  shining a spotlight on others, celebrating extraordinary people who, like TIAA, are inspired to serve.”



To be considered for the program, individuals can submit their own story or recommend someone else at through June 12. Submissions will be reviewed based on a variety of criteria including impact, creativity, perseverance and motive, and will be featured in a gallery on the TIAA Difference Maker program hub. The 100 Difference Makers selected will be announced in October 2018. 

“We believe this approach is the future of marketing,” Elliot says. “We expect to see brands leveraging the expertise of media partners and the authenticity of influencers to create more ‘emotional’ brand connections. TIAA is well positioned in this emerging space given our heritage as a purpose and mission-based institution. We also expect content with engaging stories will grow in prominence as traditional brand advertising evolves, all of which inspired the creation of this program.”

TIAA is partnering with athlete and advocate Laila Ali, who will serve as a Difference Maker 100 ambassador. As the former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, Ali has been a leader and champion of the nonprofit sector, as well as a major supporter of charitable organizations. She is the daughter of boxer Muhammad Ali.

TIAA is also working with Oath, a digital media and advertising innovator and Verizon subsidiary, to promote the Difference Maker 100 program. A branded content series, including video and editorial created by RYOT Studio, will live within the Difference Maker 100 program hub on HuffPost and be amplified across Oath’s notable media properties, including through native ads powered by Yahoo Gemini. 

High-impact display ads on the AOL homepage and advanced targeting through the BrightRoll platform will help drive audiences to the hub, where they can participate in the nominations process and interact with high-quality content, says Kathryn Friedrich, chief business officer at RYOT Studio.

All content will be mobile-optimized so that viewers can easily watch the stories of selflessness on the go, Friedrich adds.

“The goal is not only to reach and encourage non-profit employees to apply for the Difference Maker 100 program, but to share stories that will resonate with many other people, regardless of sector or industry,” Friedrich tells Marketing Daily.

In addition to launching the Difference Maker 100 program, TIAA is celebrating its centennial with a companywide “100 Days of Difference” campaign that encourages TIAA employees to take part in philanthropic and community service-oriented projects across the country. The company is also recognizing employees who, like the Difference Maker 100, are committed to serving others. 

In addition, TIAA will launch an interactive quiz later this month that enables respondents to "uncover their inner difference maker." How they answer the questions will categorize them into one of eight “difference maker archetypes” and tell them which notable difference maker they are most like.

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