John Hancock Financial Services of Boston this month launched a $25 million to $35 million advertising campaign to highlight changes to its brand and make consumers aware of its full range of investment product offerings, now extending beyond just insurance. This is the company's first new brand platform in a decade and first new advertising campaign in three years.

Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos of Boston created 30-second television spots in which John Hancock investors tell their personal stories about how the company helped them meet their goals. The ads are running on lifestyle and news programs on a number of cable TV stations, including MSNBC, ESPN and Discover, as well as college football on network television.

These are being supplemented by print ads in investing and lifestyle publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's, Money Magazine and Conde Nast Traveler. Online advertising is also a part of the mix and will initially run on Yahoo!. Radio ads will be aired on XM and Sirius Satellite Radio.

In the new ads and branding, the Olympic logo, which John Hancock has used for the past 13 years, has been done away with, replaced by the John Hancock signature with the tagline, "The Future is Yours," underneath.

John Hancock is hoping that its "The Future is Yours" campaign will convey the message that a person's future is their responsibility and John Hancock can help manage their finances for the future, said Donna Driscoll, SVP of John Hancock brand management and corporate communications.

"We still provide the security of protection products, but today's John Hancock has a much more extensive line of top investment products and services that can help consumers fulfill their promises to themselves and their loved ones and thus be assured that the future is theirs," she said.

John Hancock merged with Manulife Financial in early 2004 and is now a unit of Manulife of Toronto, which offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services. Since the merger, John Hancock has increased its mutual fund lineup, and now offers a host of products, including 529s, 401(k)s and annuities.

"This is really a new business," Driscoll said. "Before, we were focused on insurance products. Now, there is more of a balance between investments and insurance. The new brand platform is confident, descriptive, hopeful and upbeat-all the attributes the firm is," she said.

"The brand campaign is about changing consumer perception of the firm. We want perception to shift, but we know this will not happen overnight," she added.

The new campaign is a result of a comprehensive internal review of the brand and extensive external research among consumers and wholesaling distributors that the company conducted after the acquisition.

"Our research shows that the John Hancock brand remains one of the best known, most respected and trusted in the industry," Driscoll said. Hancock has been in the investment management business for more than 140 years and manages close to $300 billion across the globe.

The company will also embed the logo throughout all of its communications, including human resources, community relations and recruiting. "Our employees not only understand what an optimistic and innovative company we are, but also live it in their daily jobs. We believe those attributes work for our consumers as well," she said.

The new advertising campaign has been in the works for the past year and is a move away from fear-based to positive messaging. In the past, insurance was the main product, and John Hancock's ads were geared toward the stark realities of life. Also, the ads had a sports focus. "The focus of sports doesn't hurt us, but doesn't help convey who we are as a company," Driscoll said.

As to whether "The Future is Yours" campaign will convince investors to entrust their future to John Hancock, Burton J. Greenwald, president of B.J. Greenwald Associates of Philadelphia, is not so sure.

"How successful a company is in the market is dependent upon investment performance and wholesaling distributors," he said. "Those factors are far more important than what a company reports in an advertisement. Advertising and marketing certainly help, but it is not the main driver."

(c) 2006 Money Management Executive and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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