more depressing family crisis. I wonder if playing on fear in a world ruled by fear is a smart and sound strategy? During the Depression, for example, the downtrodden poured into movie theatres to escape the grim reality of their lives. And Hollywood provided them with a respite, however brief. I’d argue that marketers of all stripes have the same responsibility today. I’m not suggesting they market their wares by employing slapstick comedy, but I do think the entire country needs a healthy dose of fun and entertaining content. And Principal’s medicine is the wrong tonic for the wrong audience at the wrong point in time.
As someone whose firm has represented countless insurance companies over the years, I’ve noticed a cyclical nature to the marketing themes and lemmings-like mentality of the field. In recent times, for example, it’s been hard to find a single insurer that hasn’t employed comedy, a humorous situation or an actual character a la Allstate’s Mayhem to depict how truly dangerous, and fleeting, our lives are (but, in a laugh out loud funny kind of way). Recently, though, Principal Insurance decided to change the rules and began playing the doom-and-gloom card. This one-minute video is a typical example. There’s no question that fear is a powerful motivator. But, there’s a fine line to tread between scaring someone half to death and providing sound financial planning advice. I think Principal stepped over the line in this particular spot. I’d be hard pressed to suggest any additional optics, music or non-verbals to convey