John Hancock’s New TV Ads Send Viewers Online to Pick From Three Different Endings

Hill Holliday's cross-platform stories

John Hancock's latest ads will leave you hanging. For a while, at any rate.

In this new iteration of the "Life Comes Next" campaign from Hill Holliday, three 30-second teasers running on traditional TV prompt viewers to go online for three possible continuations of each story.

"The Sixth Floor" works best. In the set-up, a woman nervously exits an elevator. At Hancock's site, viewers can click on three scenarios that show how the story might play out. These continuations show her arriving at a job interview, rushing to a doctor's office to be with her husband while he has tests, or checking out space for a new business venture.

"The Question" is also a strong entry. In the teaser, a middle-aged couple hand a tablet computer to the husband's father, who expresses surprise at what he sees on the screen. Here, the ensuing scenarios range from the dad going into business with his son and daughter-in-low to moving in with them to entering a retirement community.

The weakest segment is the "The Walk," with young parents pushing a stroller through the park and, ultimately, bantering about life insurance and saving for their kid's college education.

The sitcom-y stylings of "The Walk" are a bit too precious for my taste. The performances in the other stories seem more natural, and those ads do a better job of driving home Hancock's "When life comes, be prepared for it" mantra.

Overall, the campaign's approach succeeds at presenting serious, topical information in relatable bites. Agency and client also deserve credit for breaking out of the predictable single-screen commercial format, a nod to evolving media consumption habits.

Equally notable is the fact that no matter which continuations viewers select, the characters are left to mull their options. There are no easy answers, no deus ex machina. This strengthens each story immensely. The company isn't promising a quick fix, which would seem insincere. Instead, the ads challenge viewers to "be prepared," and consider Hancock's products and services, when facing tough financial choices.

Client: John Hancock
VP, Brand, Marketing & Creative Services: James Bacharach
Brand Director: Kate Ardini

Agency: Hill Holliday, Boston
Chief Creative Officer: Lance Jensen
SVP Creative Director/Art Director: Bob Gates
SVP Creative Director/ Copy: Scott Noble
Designer: Kar-Kate Leung
Copywriter: Kara Hadge, Jerry Roach
Agency Assistant Producer: Jill Wyman
Agency Producer: Scott Hainline
Account Team: Nancy Lehrer, Michael Burns, Meghan Cermack, Matt St. Jean, Gabrielle Dorsey
Project Manager: Jillian Kenney
Group Planning Director: Baysie Wightman

Production Company: Epoch Films
Executive Producer: Mindy Goldberg, Youree Henley
Director: Jeff Preiss
Cinematographer: Matt Lloyd
Line Producer: Anura Idupuganti
Cameraman: Jeff Preiss/Matt Lloyd

Digital Producer: Matt Villone

Edit House: Jump NYC
Editor: Michael Saia

Sound Engineer: Keith Reynaud @ Heard City

Post Production: Jump/Poetica
Executive Post Producer: Sarah Roebuck/Elissa Norman – Jump
Post Producer: Lauren Montuori – Poetica
VFX Company: Poetica

Other Credits: Chris Martin, Quality Assurance Specialist; Maggie Foley, Experience Designer; Kelsea Ashworth, Production Designer; Sean McAuley, Senior Motion Designer; Brad Blake, SVP, Associate Director – Digital Strategy; Ryan Dunn, Associate Digital Strategist

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.