When asking people to trust your bank with their retirement savings, it’s best not to appear too whimsical. So Fidelity Investments is walking a fine line with its new web video featuring adorable child actors and a spunky, skydiving grandma.
But like a lot of retirement-services companies, Fidelity is looking to “reframe the conversation around investing in a more relatable, emotionally connected way,” says Adam Rubin, a creative director at Firstborn, the agency that co-created the new campaign. As important as retirement is, says Rubin, the “market is so saturated with clinical financial messaging that average people just tune it out.”
Fidelity’s solution? A nearly five-minute video called “Saving Stories” that centers on the personal financial triumphs of Marian Barnett, a 91-year-old Florida woman who rides motorcycles, survived cancer, served in the military and recently saved enough money to fulfill a lifelong dream of jumping out of an airplane with her granddaughter.
Throughout the video, which Fidelity debuted on YouTube earlier this week, child performers–using ill-fitting costumes and oversize props–act out Barnett’s stories of small financial triumphs.
“You can just sit and do nothing,” says Barnett in the video. “But if I sit and do nothing I’m bored. I’d rather save my money and jump out of an airplane again. That’s more fun.”
The message is that investing requires some work, but not a lot of sophistication. And the rewards are a richer, more satisfying life. “Hopefully Marian’s story can show people what can happen if you just take a few hours each month to consider saving for the future,” says Rubin.
The inspiration for the video came in part from Barnett herself, says Rubin. The agency team found her while searching newspapers for stories of people who were “living out their golden years to the fullest,” he says.
“After the first round of phone interviews, Marian’s zest for life and indomitable attitude made her our top choice for the project,” Rubin continued. As they listened to her talk, the agency team came up with the idea to use child actors to help tell her stories.
“We decided to use child actors to provide comedic contrast and help create wider appeal across generations,” said Rubin. “Hopefully, the whole family can sit down, watch ‘Saving Stories,’ and start a conversation about saving money in a way that feels fresh and new.”
While banks and retirement-services companies tend to take a sober approach to their ads, Fidelity is not the first to let its hair down a little. ING’s “What’s Your Number” campaign featured people carrying giant orange numbers representing their retirement goals, and Ameriprise Financial took an infamous step into retirement psychedelia in 2006 with ads featuring Dennis Hopper on a beach ranting about shuffleboard. More recently, Prudential personalized retirement with a series of mini-documentaries on retirees’ first day off the clock.
For Fidelity, the full-on kiddie approach represents a cross-generational shift, said Rubin. “Obviously, this is a different approach from what Fidelity has done in the past, but internally, the client was excited by the idea of trying something new to reach a wider audience.”
Fidelity’s in-house agency, Fidelity Communications & Advertising, worked with Firstborn to create the ad, which is part of Fidelity’s “Personal Economy” campaign that encourages people to take charge of their finances. The spot was directed by Jeremy Konner out of production company Partizan.