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Hancock Campaign Reflects Post-Merger Changes

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John Hancock Financial Services, Boston, is undertaking a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign that highlights its transformation since Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto, acquired it in April 2004.

The campaign, “The Future Is Yours,” unwraps the company’s first new brand strategy in a decade, company officials point out.

The new approach is the result of a broad internal review by MassMutual of the Hancock brand, based on Hancock’s conversion from a firm that primarily sold insurance products to one that offers a broad selection of financial lines, says Donna Driscoll, senior vice president of brand management and corporate communications for Hancock.

Consumer research convinced Manulife it needed to take advantage of the considerable brand recognition for the John Hancock product line, she says.

“We began to realize we needed to revitalize and develop a platform that expresses more accurately who we are and that we are balanced between investments and insurance,” says Driscoll. “‘The Future Is Yours’ is more than a tag line; it’s a brand platform, because we use it inside as well as externally to convey who we are as a company.”

The intent is to emphasize the company as “optimistic, innovative and contemporary,” Driscoll says.

The ad campaign addresses the budding financial needs of the baby-boomer-plus market–40-to-70-year-olds looking for ways to manage their assets, Driscoll says. It emphasizes 401(k) plans, annuities, long term care insurance and mutual funds as well as life insurance.

The message positions Hancock as a company that enables investors in that age group to accomplish their life goals.

“The campaign is an active platform that suggests consumers can and do make promises to themselves about their future, and they can achieve it,” Driscoll says.

As with older Hancock promotions, the new ads feature scenes of people telling personal stories. One new ad, for example, shows a man over 50 in front of a beach house, talking about how he first saw the ocean when he was 12 and vowed at the time he’d one day buy a beach house for his family.

The upbeat message contrasts in mood to other commercials the company aired in the past.

In one Hancock ad that ran several years ago, for instance, a young mother says, “Every time I look at the kids, I see Paul. I guess I never expected to be raising them alone.” The message was that young widows can quickly exhaust their spouses’ life insurance funds.

The company changed its message because “consumers tend to be hopeful for future,” says Driscoll. “They don’t want negative messaging; they told us that.”

Hancock’s ad agency in Boston, Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, created two 30-second television spots to appear on lifestyle and news programs on cable stations MSNBC, ESPN and Discover, among others. The company plans to add more spots over the next few years.

The ads will also appear during college football on network TV as well as both satellite radio and print publications such as Kiplinger’s, Money Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and The Wall Street Journal. Online advertising will also be included, initially running on Yahoo! Finance.

The initial phase of the campaign, running through next year, will cost between $25 million and $35 million, Driscoll estimates.


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