DIRECT: MARKETING CHALLENGE/How the Pru is rebuilding its relationship with consumers - Meg Carter assesses why the Prudential is taking an ultra-cautious line with its through-the-line strategy

The return of ’the Man from the Pru’ was heralded by high-profile advertising featuring a corporate representative promoted from the doorstep rep of the old campaign to chief executive.

The return of ’the Man from the Pru’ was heralded by high-profile

advertising featuring a corporate representative promoted from the

doorstep rep of the old campaign to chief executive.

The pounds 30 million campaign also comprises a portfolio of

through-the-line support as the Prudential tries to modernise but, at

the same time, retain authority.

The financial services market is a highly competitive one, made all the

more complex by consumer disinterest. The Prudential clearly positions

itself as a financial services provider with a broad portfolio of

products - from pensions to mortgages and life insurance.

Andrew Williams, the head of brand communication at the Prudential,

says: ’As a result of this, we are competing not just against other life

or pensions specialists, but a broad spectrum of business, including

high street banks and new entrants to the market such as Virgin and

Marks and Spencer.’

The Prudential has had two previous campaigns in recent years: WCRS’s ’I

want to be ...’ and Mustoe Merriman Herring Levy’s ’talk to


Williams says: ’Both were successful in their own right, although each

had weaknesses. ’I want to be’ was well liked and conveyed extremely

warm values, but was not sufficiently branded. ’Talk to Prudence’

addressed the branding issue, but it was not as well liked.’

According to Williams, the latest ’Man from the Pru’ campaign through

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO aims to combine the strengths and eradicate the

weaknesses of the previous campaigns.

He says: ’Financial services are low interest, high anxiety


We have to re-establish a relationship with consumers to ensure we are

perceived as a company to be trusted. ’The Man from the Pru’ is probably

the most widely known, commercially used brand icon in financial


Implementing the strategy across the Pru’s thousands of items of

communications, however, won’t be simple. Total integration is essential

for it to work.

New material is being carefully tested and researched to replace older


The pounds 30 million campaign is lead by television, poster and press


There will be direct response press and TV advertising from next month,

leaflets , door drops, direct mail and the eventual reprinting of all

Prudential literature.

The desired effect is two-fold: communicating the rational benefits of

the Prudential’s services, and communicating its emotional values - that

it cares about its consumers and understands their needs.

’Nothing of this scale had been done before,’ Williams says. ’We have

had integrated campaigns, but they were smaller in scale.’

The company’s familiar brand icon has been resurrected because it

remains a powerful focusing tool, he claims.

’The best communications are deeply integrated through the line, both

vertically and horizontally. It’s a huge, huge task.’ The entire

campaign has been co-ordinated in-house with a range of external

specialists. Aside from AMV and its media arm, New PHD, the direct

marketing agencies, Barraclough Hall Woolston Gray and Evans Hunt Scott,

the PR company, Dewe Rogerson, and the recruitment specialists, Barkers,

were all also involved.

AMV worked closely with Williams and his team to agree strategy and

implement it across the board. Peter Knowland, a board account director

at AMV, says: ’Detailed discussion was held with each agency, rather

than agreeing a strategy centrally.’

He adds: ’We have tried to set the broad direction but, at the same

time, we have had to accept that each is an expert in his or her own

particular field. As the campaign unfolds, we anticipate there will be

less direct, central control of every element.’

Implementing the ’Man from the Pru’ strategy is very much a step by step

affair. A DRTV campaign planned for April, for example, is in fact a

regional test to decide whether to proceed nationally. ’DRTV will be

used for Prudential’s home insurance,’ Knowland explains.

In the past, numbers have been carried on ads but DRTV has meant little

more than that. Meanwhile, home insurance has traditionally been sold

through direct response press and door drops. Knowland adds: ’We will

calculate the DRTV campaign’s efficiency by comparing the cost of

respondents with the cost of non-DRTV respondents.’

The Prudential’s size and the breadth of its activities require more

than a quick-fix approach. Williams says it will be ’many months’ before

the introduction process is complete as phased introduction and careful

testing is seen as essential.

Knowland adds: ’It would be easy to set up the strategy and bulldoze it

through, but this might not result in the most effective or relevant

approach in each discipline.’

He sees it as more important to ensure that members of the team behind

the campaign adopt the right style and tone.

Qualitative and quantitative tracking is being conducted to monitor and

evaluate each new element in the Prudential’s communications portfolio.

Williams says: ’As we roll out each stage, we will consider its

performance against benchmarks.’

The Prudential hopes that in this way, the inevitable lag in

implementing the new strategy across the entire organisation can be used

as an advantage.