What is the longevity of the relationship between your agency and the brand and how did this relationship begin?
Lindsay Cole, Group Account Director, Droga5: Our relationship began in 2010, when Prudential first approached Droga5 to help reinvigorate the brand, and the first work launched in May 2011.
Coming off the heels of the 2008 economic crisis, we were looking at an unprepared and uncertain America—one in four people had more debt than savings, many people had lost a significant amount of their net worth, and the majority of Americans didn’t believe they could even retire anymore. We saw this as an opportunity to position Prudential as the brand tackling America’s toughest financial challenges. “Bring Your Challenges” was born from there.
Tell us about the first campaign your agency worked on for the brand.
Ray Del Salvio, Executive Creative Director, Droga5: We started by reframing what retirement looked like for everyday Americans. While the rest of the industry was painting an unrealistic picture of salt-and-pepper-haired models sailing on yachts and playing golf, we wanted to reveal the real face of retirement—this was called “Day One.” Every day, 10,000 people retire, so we sent out a hundred cameras across America to track one sunrise from coast to coast. And we visited 20 Americans on their own Day One of retirement, hearing from them about their struggles, experiences and wisdom.
What has been the most innovative/successful campaign created by your agency for the brand?
Ray Del Salvio: We’re so proud of and humbled by all the work we’ve done for Prudential over the past seven years. The award-winning “Challenge Lab” work that began in 2013 was a robust content platform that helped people see how their brains can get in the way of planning for the future and what they could ultimately do about this challenge. This approach inspired a whole slew of social-experiments-turned-TV-commercials that got people to think differently about how they plan for retirement and the future.
Our most ambitious, and probably unexpected, project to date was putting on the 4.01K Race for Retirement, where we got thousands of people to come out to run for a cause like never before, turning retirement planning from a task we struggle with alone to a challenge we all take on together. We even managed through a hurricane that resulted in a cancellation of the first race, but that didn’t stop us.
What do you identify as being the biggest change to the industry as a whole?
Niharika Shah, VP, Head of Brand Marketing & Advertising at Prudential Financial: Look, it’s widely understood that marketing and advertising, as we have known them, are undergoing an existential yet purposeful transformation. As data becomes the new currency and the consumer more elusive, brand marketers have the opportunity to create cultural resonance with a wonderfully diverse multigenerational audience. Creating this brand connection through compelling storytelling while delivering on the acquisition funnel with the smart use of data and technology is arguably the left-right brain combination that brands and their agency partners will be challenged with.
What way do you work with the brand to keep up with the industry changes?
Lindsay Cole: We do our best to stay ahead of the curve rather than keep up with it. We have lots of open conversations with the brand about how to create work that no one else is doing, how to avoid tropes, clichés and overly familiar storytelling to create work that will truly resonate with people and get them to reconsider how they plan for something as important as their own futures. We do this in part by being in tune with the current values that are driving culture as a whole and marrying those with our own brand values and ambitions.
What factors have enabled you both to stay in a partnership for so long? And how do you plan on keeping this relationship going forward?
Lindsay Cole: A strong foundation built on trust that’s been earned over many years of getting to great work together and many learnings along the way. There’s a real sense of collaboration and a mutual shared respect for each other’s opinions. We never use the terms “client” and “agency” as we truly believe we are one team, and we operate that way despite being 10 miles apart between NYC and Newark.
Niharika Shah: And there’s a healthy tension that exists between us, a sort of yin and yang when you put together a creative shop with a 140+-year-old financial-services company. This dichotomy gives us an even greater ability to both tap into creative opportunities and solve problems. Our individuality and difference in culture makes us stronger together.
Lindsay Cole: Looking forward, we’ll continue to challenge and push each other to be even better. It’s taken courage on both sides to get to where we are, and we want to continue to be bold and take risks. In fact, there’s a new campaign on the horizon that will be revealed very soon.