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New York Life Insurance Launches $43M Campaign


"Friends" and the rest of the season premieres for the new fall television lineup are back, so New York Life Insurance Co. figured now would be a good time to launch a $43 million ad campaign.

The new campaign, titled "Heritage," will extend over the next 15 months through the end of 2003, taking the company's "Citiscape" campaign, which premiered in 2000, to the next level, said Carolyn Martin Buscarino, SVP, corporate communications at the New York-based firm.

Like that earlier campaign, which also cost more than $40 million, New York Life's new promotion prominently features the golden pinnacle-topped New York Life Building, erected in 1927 off of Madison Square Park, the site of the original Madison Square Garden.

With the sight of the landmark in the background of all three initial 30-second TV spots, "Heritage" focuses on the relationship between generations, parents and children, even various cultures.

"We are targeting people ages 25 to 55 in the middle- to upper-income markets with a special focus on parents," Martin Buscarino said. "The life insurance message is one that parents need to hear, that they need to seriously consider," although the tagline on all three spots denotes the firm's various investment offerings. These include life and long-term care insurance, annuities and investments, both the Mainstay retail funds and the Eclipse institutional line.

As to why New York Life Insurance would make such a big investment in advertising, which will also include print, at such a difficult economic time (even though insurance sales have been up), the SVP said the firm has long budgeted for these ads.

Humanity'

"We are continuing our branding message of value, integrity, strength and humanity," she said. "This is not a product message. My job is to get the agents in the door.

"We decided to wait for the new TV season, when viewers are back," she added, simply.

In the "Fathers" spot, ad agency Berlin Cameron/Red Cell of New York created a striking, emotional split-screen visual. To make the point that New York Life Insurance has always, and will always be there, a father and daughter circa 1900 on the left go through the same paces as a 21st Century father and daughter.

The voiceover asks: "What stands the test of time? Our strongest bonds, our fundamental values. At New York Life, our humanity, integrity and financial strength provide protection and security for millions of families through changing times. Values that make New York Life the Company You Keep.'"

Martin Buscarino called the ads "cinematic."

"A lot of our competitors do nice ads, but they're rather ordinary; people sitting at kitchen tables, or playing with children. Not so many special effects," she said. "Our research showed that that kind of visual" resonates with investors and policyholders, she said.

"Our job was to continue the theme of how New York Life's enduring values enable the company to adapt to a changing world," commented Ewen Cameron, CEO of the advertising agency.

The campaign launched on ABC's marquee "Monday Night Football" game Sept. 23 and will air nationally with a focus on nine key markets, including: Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington. New York Life Insurance premiered the original "Citiscape" campaign, which Berlin Cameron/Red Cell also created, during the Academy Awards.

In conjunction, the company is launching its first large-scale print campaign in five years, to drive home the message that the company is mutually owned by policyholders, further ensuring the longevity of the company, Martin Buscarino said.

"We can look at the needs of our policyholders 20, 30, 40 years down the road and make the proper decisions for them without being beholden to analysts on Wall Street," she said.

These print ads will first appear in the October issues of Inc., Money, SmartMoney and Kiplinger's Personal Finance. In coming months, the print campaign will extend to BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fortune, Newsweek, Time and U.S. News and World Report.

"Our goal is to maintain a consistent level of awareness in consumers' minds, which I am very excited about, because I think our messages are even more relevant today than they were two years ago," Martin Buscarino said.