Now What, Prudential? Optimistic Ads, Younger Demos For Financial Services


“Now What?” sounds like a good question to ask Prudential Financial three months after it kicked off a direction-changing campaign of that very title during coverage of soccer’s World Cup.

The new campaign not only flips the message in the brand's advertising from bad moments to uplifting ones, but goes after a younger audience and seeks to position Prudential as a financial services rather than an insurance brand, Richard Parkinson, Prudential’s chief brand manager, tells Marketing Daily.

As to what’s next, look for “Now What” during college basketball’s March Madness next month, Parkinson says.

That comes as no surprise, since Prudential likes to tie in with “specific cultural sporting moments where we can actually lean in and have an impact,” in Parkinson’s words.



In 2021, after all, the brand brought its iconic Rock of Gilbraltar logo back into its advertising via a campaign called “Who’s Your Rock” that launched during the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics.

Prudential, which used the slogan “Get a Piece of the Rock” for many years, hadn’t used the rock in its advertising for a decade. And the company’s name changed from Prudential Insurance Company of America to Prudential Financial 22 years ago.

“We are known for insurance,” Parkinson, acknowledges, so “part of the work we’re doing at the moment is to show that reappraisal of the brand.” 

The new campaign stemmed from behavioral research “indicating that hope is a particularly powerful emotion,” he says. So “NowWhat?” zeroes in on stress, destressing and optimism -- in that order.

Thus, the first spot opens by showing such bad moments as a leg crashing down from a shocked woman’s ceiling and a man’s rear windshield breaking when he closes his trunk. Then it shows good moments, such as people getting a dream job and a new client at work. A voiceover, meanwhile, asks, “Now what? You say it when things go wrong. At Prudential, we think you should say it when things go right too,” suggesting viewers should then “connect with the rock solid team at Prudential.’

While the brand is “leaning into our iconic symbol” to demonstrate strength, Parkinson says, it’s also now targeting past its core audience of 35- to 64-year-olds to also reach “young affluents” (25- to 34-year-olds with investable assets of $100,000 or more) and “emerging affluents” (25- to 44-year-olds with investable assets of $50,000 to $100,000).

Lest you think that younger demos aren’t interested in financial planning, Prudential points to Logica Research stats showing that 58% of millennials and Gen Z members want to know what type and how much insurance to have, 54% want to know how much to save, and 52% want to know how to make the most of a 401(k) or retirement account.

Also, Logica found, those demos are increasingly turning to YouTube and TikTok for information on finances.

So it’s little surprise that social media like TikTok are now a Prudential media priority for the first time, as Parkinson says the new campaign allows the brand “to be more authentic” on those platforms.

So, beyond March Madness, now what?

The campaign, the first from Prudential’s creative agency McCann since replacing former agency StrawberryFrog earlier this year, is scheduled to continue through the year on broadcast, digital, social media and audio (Prudential handles the media planning and buying in-house)

Parkinson says to expect two or three additional spots during the year that, instead of a general pitch for Prudential, will focus on specific services like retirement and life insurance. Also, he teases, “you’ll see us turning up in places that you may not have seen us before” -- though he can't add specifics about those places just yet.

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