You might have seen the new TD Ameritrade commercials where the bearded man takes middle-class folks into the “Green Room” to talk retirement planning.
Boring, right? The topic could be boring, but the campaign is actually quite clever. And the two commercials that I’ve seen so far barely mention retirement or investments at all.
In one, chatty investment advisor asks a woman what she wants to do before she retires. This confuses her:
“I thought we were supposed to be talking about investing for retirement,” she says.
“We’re absolutely doing that,” he responds, “but there’s no law that says you can’t make the most of today.”
Her answer leads to an amusing reaction from investor guy.
In another commercial, bearded guy listens to a couple’s insecurity over their $100,000 nest egg. Excuse me, $103,000. The couple has spent their whole married lives saving that amount.
“Then it’s a fortune,” bearded guy says.
The commercials caught my eye as a warm and engaging take on a cold and worrisome topic. Let’s face it, retirement planning is right up there with bathing the dog on our list of fun things to do.
TD Ameritrade is trying many different strategies to woo the retirement market.
Another ad campaign features Indianapolis Colts’ QB Andrew Luck offering snatches of his “lucky beard” (get it?) for those behind the retirement planning eight ball.
And TD Ameritrade is not the only company ramping up its retirement woo.
Prudential has been using props such as magnets, dominoes and balloons for a couple of years now in a campaign dramatizing how unprepared for retirement many people are.
It’s a creative way to get people thinking about putting a little money away at a younger age to get that nest egg growing.
E*Trade opted for some clever alliteration with its current campaign. Here’s a sample from a recent commercial:
“This is my retirement. Retiring retired tires. And I never get tired of it. Are you entirely prepared to retire? Plan your never tiring retiring retired tires retirement with E*Trade.”
I wonder how many takes that one took to get right?
Why all the focus on retirement planning? Hint: it has to do with that figure we keep giving you about 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day.
This is a big winner for financial services. To start, the pie is so big that if you’re E*Trade and you can get 3 percent of it, that’s good business.
The Investment Company Institute published a study, "The Role of IRAs in U.S. Households’ Saving for Retirement, 2014," prepared by Sarah Holden, senior director of retirement and investor research, and Daniel Schrass, associate economist.
According to the study, there were $7.3 trillion in retirement assets at the end of the third quarter of 2014 and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) represented 30 percent of U.S. total retirement market assets. That compares with 18 percent two decades ago.
Second, these campaigns serve the dual purpose of getting business now, while also harvesting future clients. A recent survey from GoBankingRates.com finds more than half of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, with one in three having nothing saved.
A lot of those are younger GenXers and millennials seeing their parents retire or get closer to it, and who have questions of their own.
To recap -- the commercials are fun, the need for retirement education and opportunity is a genuine public crisis, and this is American free enterprise at its best.
Hopefully, the retirement focus just keeps growing.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at email@example.com.
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