Why John Hancock’s NFL Rookie Social Blitz Worked So Well

Posted on by Patty Odell

After resetting its mission around helping customers improve their lives and make long-term decisions easier, John Hancock unleashed a new digital and consumer centric brand strategy last fall to reach new, younger consumers.

“It was a high bar but an important north star to line up work to,” CMO Barbara Goose says. “We have to be quite purposeful in what our objectives are. We’re not being measured on sales. It would be unfair to think you could put out engaging content and instantly someone is going to give you their life savings.”

The game changer was switching the conversation around retirement to focus on personal passions and goals instead of a vague, distant future and working aggressively to bring that core message to market.

“We were excited about where that could take us,” she says. “It’s a nice message and a nice differentiator in the category.”

To get that message out, “The Long Game” retirement campaign launched in partnership with The Player’s Tribune and CBS Sports Digital. At its core were six NFL rookies who opened up the discussion around retirement planning through a series of long- and short-form videos.

The rookies—Saquon Barkley, Calvin Ridley, Sony Michel, Phillip Lindsay, Dante Pettis and James Washington—talk about their respective long-term goals and passions outside of football.

The six videos,  released over the course of four months, have received a whopping 10 million views since the October launch, with the ability to follow up with messages and calls for more specific action. The goal is to inspire other young adults to think about their own personal passions and get a jumpstart on mapping out their own futures.

The first video featured Phillip Lindsay, a running back for the Denver Broncos.

“We tried to change the conversation about retirement,” Goose says. “They talk about achievements off the field and how they’re planning today for the future. It’s been a more positive way to talk about something that’s scary and amorphous.”

By driving consumers to the website, they can see the breadth of products and services John Hancock offers to help them plan for the future. Once there, visitors find advisors, downloadable apps, and wellness products to help with all of their financial planning needs.

“We are going after younger people who have aspirations to achieve, are future focused overachievers, starting careers and families,” she says. “They are setting up plans early on and we want to make sure we’re delivering the products to help them be successful in what they want to do. The retirement campaign is the leading example enabling actions and enabling consumers to do things directly with us.”

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A multi-touch spread of content supports “The Long Game” through social channels like Facebook and Instagram;  programmatic digital on sites like CBS Sports; and John Hancock channels. The content also lives on The Player’s Tribune, a media platform founded by former professional Major League Baseball player Derek Jeter that provides content written by professional athletes.  But as the campaign moved along, not surprisingly, the rookies’ videos had the most visits and generated the most likes and shares on Instagram.

“We wanted to get where younger people were—live audiences on multiple devices. We wanted to be a part of it. We want people to know John Hancock is in the retirement business,” she says. “It’s about making that connection with someone with content they like. With a multi-touch strategy we have a much better chance of breaking through that second or third time because we’ve already started the conversation with them.”

The more than 10 million video views were combined with high levels of engagement. In addition, success is measured by time spent, shares and other actions taken around the content.

“We’re priming the pump and setting them up for the next opportunity in the digital space,” Goose says. “We can go after an audience that we know has seen this content. It’s a multi step process to bring them through the funnel. It takes time and these are high consideration products.”


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