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Friday, July 22, 2016

Retelling the American Century Story

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

The American Century [profile] team is getting their story out there in a new way, with a brand campaign: "Prosper With Purpose."

The first TV ads in the campaign rolled out last weekend during the 145th British Open golf tournament at the Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland, with more TV commercial to debut this weekend during the 27th annual American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline, Nevada. And watch for ads to also run during Premier League soccer on NBC.

Heather Freund, director of brand services and manager of American Century's in-house agency, confirms that the Kansas City, Missouri-based mutual fund shop teamed up with the nearby Meers Agency to work on the new campaign.

"They get us," Freund tells MFWire. "They get our industry."

The campaign highlights American Century's ownership structure, which sends more than 40 percent of its annual dividends (that's $1.2 billion since 2000) to support medical research at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research.

Jonathan Thomas
American Century
President and CEO
"There's a tremendous amount of interest in 'impact investing,' which in the broadest sense encompasses investments that have a measurable, beneficial impact on society, while also providing investors with a potential return," states Jonathan Thomas, president and CEO of American Century. "We view our ownership model and the legacy of our founder as the ultimate example of investing with impact."

"We've been telling this story quite a long time," Freund says, and FAs and investors were asking "Why aren't you telling it more."

"It's resonating quite strongly," Freund says.

What we wanted to do is take the Nike approach and make it sort of a rallying call. Everyone has their own interpretation of what prosperity means to them. We want to tap into that ... It's more of a partnership. It's not so much about us, it's about the investor.


"After we do test-marketing, we'll go national," Freund says. "The campaign message is right on strategy. We want to make sure we the media approach right."

"As an advertiser and a marketer and a firm believer in this company ... I'm just really, really proud," Freund adds. "This is something we'll be able to say in perpetuity. Campaigns come and go but this is our story and will always be our story."

As for the American Century Championship this weekend at Lake Tahoe, a spokesman for American Century says they expect 40,000 people to show to watch retired NBA star Charles Barkley, current NBA star Steph Curry, popstar/actor Justin Timberlake, and many other celebrities compete in what's pitched as "America's No. 1 celebrity golf tournament." And the tournament will raise money for the Stowers Institute, as well as for regional non-profits in the Lake Tahoe area.

The new campaign comes two months after American Century gained a new backer when Nomura closed on its $1-billion purchase of CIBC's 41-percent, non-controlling stake in American Century.

(Update: Timberlake came to this year's ACC as planned and even did the Carlton again, this time with Curry and actor Alfonso Ribeiro.) 

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