Northwestern Mutual’s Latest Integrated Campaign Celebrates Advisor-Client Relationships

The financial services company's first message under CMO Lee Hurley focuses on real stories during the pandemic

Woman and boy sitting on the ground with chalk
Northwestern Mutual's ad campaign features Ryan Jordan, an entrepreneur who was able to rehire her entire staff amid the pandemic thanks to her relationship with financial company's advisor. Northwestern Mutual

Dawne Collier, a Black OBGYN based in Illinois, had a dream of helping young women through online body positivity coaching and just as she was working toward achieving her goal, Covid-19 hit.

Collier, who had been busy ticking things off a to-do list before launching the virtual course series, was suddenly derailed by immediate concerns: What if she got sick? And how would this pandemic continue to devastate her community?

Then, Andrea Williams, an advisor at financial services company Northwestern Mutual, swooped in and helped Collier focus on her professional ambitions by ensuring she had the proper life and disability insurance based on her needs and circumstances.

Collier is one of the three real-life Northwestern Mutual clients that viewers will have a chance to “meet” in the company’s first integrated 360 campaign under the direction of its recently appointed CMO, Lee Hurley, who was promoted from vp of brand and activation in February.

The campaign, created in collaboration with New York-based agency Mrs. & Mr., will be disseminated through targeted programming and partnerships across TV, digital, social media and influencer activation starting this week. The overall campaign hopes to break down the barriers surrounding financial planning by sharing authentic stories about how Northwestern Mutual advisors helped clients financially and emotionally navigate Covid-19. The message is being relayed through the three client-advisor stories featured in separate 30-second spots, digital and broadcast partnerships with Cheddar, TheSkimm, and CNN’s Represented programming and influencers.

The two other clients featured in the campaign spots are Melvin Gonzalez, a Salvadoran immigrant who partnered with advisor Osmar Garcia to keep his painting business afloat throughout the pandemic, and Ryan Jordan, an entrepreneur who was able to reopen her childcare business thanks to the counseling she received from her advisor, Dave Clausen.

“This new campaign showcases inspirational stories of resilience—told through the voice of our clients who are overcoming challenges brought on by the pandemic,” Hurley said in a statement. “It is through their experiences that people will see the vital role our advisors are playing in helping them protect their dreams and plan for the future.” 

Hurley, who succeeded Aditi Javeri Gokhale and has been responsible for overseeing Northwestern Mutual’s marketing strategy, including brand and activation, field marketing and engagement, client marketing and creative for the past seven months. She joined the company in 2017 before assuming her new position in February. Hurley told Adweek that her experience as vp of brand and activation informed her process for conceptualizing and executing this first integrated campaign under her wing.

“When I joined the company about four years ago, there was a really big focus on building out consumer marketing at Northwestern Mutual, and there were a bunch of areas of focus, but one of the most important was transforming the brand by making it one that people found accessible,” she said.

The category of financial services comes with high barriers, Hurley explained, such as a lack of trust and a lack of knowledge from consumers, who perceive financial planning to only be for the wealthy or for retirement planning. The main goal for Northwestern Mutual’s marketing then had been to get people engaged with a category that they often found to be “boring, complex, daunting, and confusing,” she said.

When Covid-19 changed the world for everyone, Northwestern Mutual’s marketing department saw an opportunity in conveying how people have actually used the brand’s services throughout the health crisis.

@monicroqueta Mónica is a breaking news reporter at Adweek.