John Hancock: Media May Change, But Not The Message

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In a new advertising campaign, John Hancock Financial Services demonstrates that although communication modes have changed in the technology age, the thoughts behind them--particularly about investing--haven't varied much.

The campaign, which will be backed by a $26 million spend over the next year, shows people communicating via instant messaging, signified by a blinking cursor on the screen. In one, a man walks on a city street at night, while an instant message conversation about his impending retirement takes place above his head. "Just 22 more paychecks and then you get to write your own," says one messenger to another. "How much are you going to pay yourself?" The retiree-to-be has no response.

"A lot of times, these conversations aren't had on the phone anymore, they're had late at night and not always in person," Joanna Padden, Hancock's VP/advertising, tells Marketing Daily.



Other executions show a husband messaging his wife while on a business trip about how many years they will need their retirement income to last, and another couple wondering whether a 5.7% savings over five years is a good deal. The spots use only ambient sound and the clicking of a keyboard to get their message across. "In today's market, it seems like everyone is trying to get louder and louder; we feel this draws the viewer in a little more," Padden says.

The campaign retains John Hancock's tagline, "The future is yours."

The television ads will air on cable networks such as CNN, ESPN, Discovery, A&E, History, Travel Channel and Fox News.

The campaign also includes print and online advertising. The print advertising will feature the ads, as well as specially created copy (in the form of an article) about a financial success story targeted at the magazine's readership. An ad that ran in Sports Illustrated, for instance, also featured an article about Reid Ryan, Nolan's son, who went from being a minor league baseball player to owning a minor league team. The articles are based on "pivotal conversations" the subjects had about their financial goals, Padden says.

Print ads will appear in publications such as Money, Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, Travel & Leisure and Real Simple. Online banner ads will go on sites such as, SmartMoney, Time and CNN Money. The company will also have dedicated microsites on AOL, Dow Jones and FoxNews.

The new campaign replaces an effort from last year that depicted how people wanted to secure a financial future for important people in their lives. The so-called "Promises" campaign showed a man describing how he wanted to take care of his aging parents the way they took care of him, a business owner wanting to provide for his daughter and an architect who had achieved enough financial security to start a second career as a math teacher.

"We want consumers to know that we know [financial decisions are] difficult, and there's a lot of uncertainty," Padden says of the new approach. "We want them to understand that we know that."

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