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Research Inspires TV Advertising Campaign

SunAmerica of Los Angeles began a new ad campaign last Thursday during game one of the NBA championships on NBC. The ads are designed to "bring to life' the relationship between baby boomers and their retirement plans," according to Sonia Fiorenza, director of corporate communications at SunAmerica.

SunAmerica decided to launch the new campaign based on company research that suggests that baby boomers are not paying enough attention to their retirement plans, according to Fiorenza.

"We conducted a survey, which told us that baby boomers believe they are neglecting their retirement plans," said Fiorenza. "The campaign is based on the results from that research."

In the national survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation of Skillman, N.J., over 1,000 baby boomers, 45 or older, were questioned, according to SunAmerica. Half of the respondents said they felt they were neglecting their plans. The survey also found that 39 percent thought their retirement plans are not safe and 41 percent believe their retirement plans are not working hard enough to achieve their goals, according to the company.

Another key finding is that investors' confidence in their own retirement plans is down amidst the market downturn, according to SunAmerica. The percentage of workers that said they were confident that they were doing a good job preparing financially for retirement decreased from 77 percent in 2000 to 70 percent in 2001, according to SunAmerica. That also was the basis for the new campaign, said Fiorenza.

"With volatility in equity markets, investors have begun to doubt their ability to make sound financial decisions and know they need professional help," according to SunAmerica's literature on the new campaign. "But many are still sitting on the fence. That's where Retirement' comes in. He's a constant reminder that the need for a personal retirement plan never goes away."

Retirement' is the name of the character in the new ads, played by Colin Mochrie, an actor and comedian from the television show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" according to SunAmerica.

There are three different 30-second spots, called "Neglect," "Safety," and "Working," in which the character is involved in everyday activities in the lives of his owners' and demonstrates how people tend to mismanage their plans and how some plans might be ineffective, according to the company. For example, in "Working," Retirement' is lazy as an indication that the owner's plan is not working hard enough. First, Retirement' washes dishes by letting a dog lick them and puts them away, essentially dirty. Then he nonchalantly sits in the back seat of a car, which has broken down, while his owner pushes it uphill. Finally, he and his owner team up in a doubles tennis match and when the ball comes to Retirement', he does not budge.

In the ads, the narrator asks consumers one of three questions: How safe is your retirement plan?', Are you neglecting your retirement plan?', or How hard is you retirement plan working?' according to the company. The ads end with the narrator telling consumers that SunAmerica can help and suggesting that they consult a financial advisor.

SunAmerica declined to disclose the amount it was spending on the campaign. The target audience for the ads, which were created by Deutsch, an ad agency, of Los Angeles, is adult investors age 45 to 65 and financial advisors, according to the company.

The three 30-second commercials will run during prime-time programming that is expected to attract affluent audiences, according to SunAmerica. In addition to game one of the NBA Championships, ads were also scheduled to run this past weekend during the French Open, the Belmont Stakes, and game three of the NBA championships, according to the company. Next weekend, spots are scheduled to appear during the U.S. Open golf tournament and, beginning on June 30, they will appear throughout broadcasts of the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Ads will also appear on national cable networks including CNN, CNBC, A&E, AMC and THC, the company said. The campaign includes a multiyear sponsorship of an NBC sports update feature, which will be called, "SunAmerica NBC Sports Desk."