18 September 2011

Ameriprise: Psychedelic Peace Signs Now White Picket Fences

What a long, strange trip it’s been…” watching Ameriprise pander to Baby Boomers.  Originally (well, make that 2005 when it split off from American Express for reasons I’ll leave to legal experts to comment on), the company burst on the scene with all sorts of silliness:

Invoking "The Sixties" (2005)
Ameriprise's campaign slinks around and takes the low road — invoking 'The Sixties' for no reason other than to unctuously 'brand' their service.

The two spots I've seen open up with a montage (make that a sloppy collage) of standard-issue 'Love-In' stock footage and clips of home movies. There may be some recently shot computer-played-with video mixed into the mess. At some point, a bunch of kids pop out of a VW Bus — and magically morph into fiftysomethings.

Ameriprise vs. Fidelity Financial Redux
The 1960s were about cultural change and political activism. But in Ameriprise's new commercials, the era's touchstones are evoked in the name of money, money, money.

Dennis Hopper for Ameriprise

Advertising Has Removed Music's Soul

A big chunk of the campaign’s subtext was “We’re this brand-new financial planning company just for you groovy Baby Boomers!”

A few years later, Ameriprise calmed down a bit:

Meet Us Today (The spot has vanished, but you’ll get the message.)

imageNow it seems Aunt Polly made Tom whitewash that fence.  No more peace signs or psychedelic graffiti. 

Ameriprise's new face of retirement
The new campaign features two spots. In the one titled "Generations," Tommy Lee Jones leans on a white picket fence as iconic images of farmers, a small-town diner and college students walking through a picturesque campus fill the screen.

imageAmeriprise Speaks With a New Voice

The initial commercials feature Mr. Jones outdoors, leaning on a fence, and speaking to the camera in his characteristic plain-talk tones.

Here’s my favorite part:

Mr. Jones … describes how Ameriprise has worked hard for its customers since 1894, “never taking a bailout.”

So all of a sudden Ameriprise is not a new, shake’em up, dazzling  company – but a stodgy, conservative one that’s 115 years old, “never taking a bailout.”

Hmmm.  Very admirable.  But … how many ‘bailouts’ have been offered to Ameriprise over the last 115 years?  One?

While using television or movie stars as spokespeople usually isn’t a good idea…


…Tommy Lee Jones is a likable fellow – and brilliant actor.  Not a bad choice if you think your product/service needs a face: