Fallon's Conseco Campaign Challenges Viewers to 'Step Up'
Agency: Fallon McElligott, New York
Client: Conseco, Carmel, Ind.
Creative Director: Jamie Barrett
Group Creative Director: Steve Sweitzer
Art Director: Ellen Steinberg
Copywriter: William Gelner
Executive Producer: Julie Hampel
Director: Jhoan Camitz
Production Co.: Satellite Films, New York and Los Angeles
Creative director Jamie Barrett wants you to laugh at Fallon McElligott's latest ads for Conseco financial services, but not bust a gut.
"There's a real charm to letting events unfold rather than slamming them in your face," he explains. Agencies "tend to panic and try too hard" when using humor.
Looking for a light, deft touch, Barrett turned to Jhoan Camitz, a Swedish director who has worked on ads for Nike and Volkswagen of America. For Conseco, Camitz focused on simple details, not splashy production tricks.
The resulting campaign uses extraordinary situations to illustrate the importance of financial planning. The television spots, which broke nationally last week, will run for the next few months on network and cable programs. Print executions break next month in consumer publications such as Time and Newsweek. Supported by an estimated $30 million media budget, the effort introduces the tagline, "Step up."
In one commercial, a man in scuba gear walks down a city street, exchanges pleasantries with a street vendor and enters a park, newspaper and briefcase in hand. A female jogger turns her head as the man sits on the edge of a large fountain, then slowly flips backward into the water. "How do you plan on spending your retirement?" a voiceover asks, as the diver comes up to drop a coin into his plastic pale. "Conseco's annuities and mutual funds can help."
In another spot, which asks, "How do you plan on paying for renovations?" a well-dressed man weaves through a crowded subway car with a metal can featuring a picture of his wife and kids. "I've just renovated my kitchen," he explains. "I'm not asking for much--just a little help in paying it off. Anyone?"
Other commercials depict hospital patients scrubbing dishes to work off the cost of medical bills and a bride and groom cutting costs by serving food and drinks at their reception.
One of three print executions shows a family who converts their home into a hotel to cover the cost of renovations.
Last year's campaign--Fallon's first for Conseco--showed people in movie-like situations to illustrate the point that "life doesn't follow a script." The tag: "Protect wealth. Create wealth. Our goal for life."
The "Step up" strategy is more succinct and captures the aspirations of the company, says Stewart Stockdale, Conseco executive vice president for marketing and strategic planning. "It's an attitude," whether it's for a potential consumer or a Conseco salesperson, he says.
In addition, the new tagline plays off the client's logo: a staircase. At the end of each TV commercial, the words "lending," "insurance" and "investments"--Conseco's various services--morph into steps on the staircase.
The latest campaign "uses an element of rye humor, but I think that just makes us more approachable," says group creative director Steve Sweitzer. "We captured the spirit and personality of the company."