Ad of the Day: Prudential

Droga5 films people around the country on their first day of retirement

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Historically, the problem for advertisers in talking about retirement is that, for many people, it's a topic that lacks immediacy. That's changing. For 74 million baby boomers, the prospect of retirement is quite real—for some, all too real. Droga5 and Prudential saw the opportunity to seize on that reality—and its attendant hopes and anxieties—in a new advertising series that considers retirees one at a time, in mini documentaries, on their very first day off after a lifetime of working.

How do these retirees feel about their new reality? Are they scared? Hopeful? Prepared? Can they inspire and learn from each other? Those were among the questions Droga5 sought to answer with the "Day One" campaign. Making just one pre-screen phone call to each subject, the agency showed up with Epoch documentary filmmakers Everynone and let the cameras roll. The results, as seen in the spot below, featuring Mujahid Abdul-Rashid on his first day of retirement, are quietly poignant—and visually quite beautiful. They're meditations on what has come before—and what lies ahead. The danger of ads like these is that they can quickly descend into sentimentality and schmaltz. There's some of that here, but the spots aren't uniformly treacly. "For lack of a better word, I didn't want to suck as a father or as a grandfather," Abdul-Rashid says. Yet he also admits: "I actually envisioned and looked forward to the time of being a grandfather. It's almost like I had skipped the father part." For those frightened by retirement, it's admissions of fallibility like these that will make the series seem honest—and Prudential, by extension, worth trusting.

The clever structure of the campaign—filming people's Day Ones—is classic Droga5. The agency and client did something similar last summer with a spot that used 100 cameras to film the same sunrise from coast to coast. But that effort was more gimmicky—you had to be told it was the same sunrise, or you'd never know. This series is much more grounded, and feels more relevant. The spots, which include a 30-second TV commercial, point to a new website,, which collects the photos, films (there are currently four others) and collective wisdom of the subjects—and also, of course, highlights the Prudential tools that may help you prepare for when your Day One arrives.

Of course, there's a limit to just how much reality Prudential wants to embrace. Fact is, the baby boomers face a truly frightening retirement crisis. Millions have not properly saved for their retirement, and some believe a majority of middle-class workers will end up living at or near the poverty line in their old age. Naturally, Prudential has little interest in such a pessimistic outlook. "Throughout this generation, there is a hope and a belief that they will make it through. They will be OK," say the campaign's press materials. Whether or not that's true, this campaign certainly makes it seem like something critically worth pursuing.


Client: Prudential

Campaign: Day One/Retirement

Spots: "Mujahid," "Linda," "Gary," "Nadine," "Hermann"

Agency: Droga5, New York

Creative Chairman: David Droga

Executive Creative Directors: Ted Royer / Nik Studzinski

Group Creative Director: Kevin Brady

Copywriters: Graham Douglas / Michelle Hirschberg / Colin Lord

Art Director: Ben Wolan

Creative Director: Neil Heymann

Interactive Designer: Ronaldo Jardim

Interactive Executive Producer: Andrew Allen

Interactive Producer: Jason Curtis

Interactive Production Company: Domani Studios

Head of Integrated Production: Sally-Ann Dale

Executive Producer: Scott Chinn

Strategy: Steve Grant

Account Director: Emily Brooks

Client VP, Head of Advertising: Colin Mcconnell

Production Company: Epoch Films

Director: Everynone

DP: Everynone

Executive Producer: John Duffin

Producer: Sean Hobbs

Production Supervisor: Colin Moran

Editor: Everynone

Post Production: Cut + Run

Additional Editorial: Georgia Dodson

Executive Producer: Rana Martin

Flame Operator: Joey Grosso

Music: Unseen Music

Composer: Keith Kenniff

Sound: The Royal T House

Mixer: TTT

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.