As part of my integrated marketing communications independent study, I am reading and writing about case studies. See the first one, The Heart Truth. The cases are from the textbook, Public Relations Cases, written by Hendrix and Hayes. These posts are unfortunately long…
“Thrivent Financial Helps Its Members Thrive in Retirement”
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans with OLSON & Company
According to the situation analysis, Thrivent had exceptional scores from members for its integrity, spirit and values (media coverage was primarily about their charitable efforts). But, the organization scored low on product performance and customer service. OLSON & Company worked to build awareness of Thrivent’s expertise and drive people to their online retirement tool called ThriveQ.
- Researched perceptions and awareness before and after the campaign
- Tested campaign messages with focus groups
- Did recon on the competition
- Targeted employees, financial representatives, members and prospective members, and the media
Through their research, they found out a few interesting things. It was obvious that people were not confident in the organization’s abilities, but they also found that their competitors spent up to 38 times more on advertising.
This campaign was separated into two different phases. The first phase focused on reaching audiences through media and using the media to showcase Thrivent as an expert in retirement planning. The second phase focused on the launch and promotion of ThriveQ.
OLSON & Company described the first phase as using a “multilayered media mix.” This included:
- Displays and graphics in the lobby
- Skyway and elevator displays
- Floor graphics
- Table tents
- Paid advertising
- Light projected images
- Ceiling banners, column wraps and window clings in the local airport
Tool kits were created to include a booklet and video, business card holders, posters, window clings, quarter stickers and bumper stickers. These were distributed to 2,500 financial reps.
One of the very interesting aspects of this campaign was the street team that dropped branded quarters, with their Web address and a short message. The team scattered 5,000 of these quarters in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Not only did people walking down the street notice these, but it gained media coverage.
Coverage was gained in AARP Magazine and The Wall Street Journal after they surveyed baby boomers about retirement and distributed results through press kits.
To get more attention from of the media, the top 75 contacts received a tropical shirt with the clever tagline, “There’s more to retirement than wearing a tropical shirt.”
In Phase 2, ThriveQ was launched. They also partnered with a retirement think tank to increase credibility. Awareness was created for their new online tool with a satellite media tour, multimedia news release, audio news release, electronic media kit, byline articles, billboards, light-rail train wrap, bus wraps, advertising in the airport, and print advertising.
- More than 160 million media impressions
- 1.73 million paid media impressions
- Higher brand equity, according to research
- 22 million impressions related to the online tool
- Close to 90,000 visits to the online tool in six months
OLSON & Company did a lot of great things for Thrivent. My initial thought was that the audience might be “too old” for an online tool. But, people who are planning for their retirement might just be middle-aged. The bus wrap was a very interesting tactic (picture available in the book). I like how it asks if you will have the retirement you are envisioning, and there are pictures of retirees doing activities like fishing.
One of the things I’m learning about IMC is to think outside the box. You don’t have to do the typical press release. You can find other ways to reach your audience. The street team, the projected images, and the tropical shirt were ways to get attention. Check out images of the work done by OLSON & Company here.
It’s hard to offer ways for this campaign to be improved. While social media wouldn’t have been the most important aspect, many middle-aged people are joining Facebook. I believe a Facebook fan page, maybe for ThriveQ, could be useful for sharing retirement and financial tips to these people. A blog also could be used to write about retirement planning. Through good content and SEO/SEM, Thrivent could become a top search results for this topic.