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, DayOneStories.com, 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.
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
Executive Producer: John Duffin
Producer: Sean Hobbs
Production Supervisor: Colin Moran
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