Merrill Lynch eases retirees

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Merrill Lynch eases retirees
Merrill Lynch eases retirees

Client: Merrill Lynch

Agencies: Hill Holliday, Boathouse, Organic, TPN

Objective: Redefine what retirement means to Boomers via integrated campaign.

Marketers like to portray retirement as a permanent vacation, cocktail in hand. But after the recession, as worries about what would happen with savings kicked in for many Boomers, it became clear to Merrill Lynch Wealth Management that consumers wanted straight talk and real solutions.

"We came out the other side of this recession and recognized that things had changed," says Joan Khoury, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Marketing at Bank of America Corp. "Their No. 1 concern is retirement — and not just financial retirement. We wanted to demonstrate that we understood what they were trying to retire from and how to help them do that."

STRATEGY: Working with agencies Hill Holliday, Boathouse Group, Organic and TPN, Merrill Lynch developed a campaign that would directly address these concerns, beginning in early 2010 with print ads showing consumers age 50-plus holding up placards that read "help2retire" above a blank box for suggestions. 

Following this Mad Libs theme, it unveiled a billboard in Times Square that invited passersby to text their answers, which would then be displayed on the board. 

The campaign was expanded to include a Web series dubbed 
"help2retire" and hosted by former Good Morning America anchor Charles Gibson, a recent retiree himself. The five live webcasts ran between April 2010 and June 2011. 

"What we tried to do with this series was redefine what retirement is," says Khoury. "We wanted to bring perspective and actionable ideas for them [retirees]."

The webcasts were promoted in print and online via Yahoo, Bloomberg and The New York Times. Featured segments from the videos were posted on the Merrill Lynch site and its YouTube channel. 

RESULTS: The Web series has to date attracted more than 4 million unique visitors. It also won a Financial Communications Society Portfolio Award. Since May 2010, Merrill Lynch reports that it has seen a 13% improvement among clients and prospects in terms of perceptions that the company can help them meet their retirement goals.

"What we learned through the recession was that our highest scores from clients were on that advisor-client relationship and how important that was to enable clients to reach their retirement," Khoury says. "They are looking for that closer connection."

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