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Rating:TIAA-CREF Launches Branding Offensive Not Rated 4.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

TIAA-CREF Launches Branding Offensive

by: Theresa Sim

Stodgy TIAA-CREF is making moves to reclaim its traditional markets and venture into new ones, the WSJ reported on Monday.

Fighting a reputation for lagging competitors, being slow to launch new products, and a lackluster brand (when anyone recognizes the pension company, at all), TIAA-CREF is back on the offensive.

Its plan of action?

The pension company is rolling out a slew of new initiatives. Within its traditional market, TIAA-CREF is thinking outside the box, targeting workers new to academia, younger academic professionals and those exiting the workforce. Along those lines, TIAA-CREF will open offices near college campuses and other areas with "concentrations of participants," said Glen Weiner, a TIAA-CREF spokesman.

"[A]s people retire and transition out of the workplace, we want them staying with us," the WSJ reported Herb Allison, head of TIAA-CREF, as saying.

Allison, in an effort to clamp down on costs, laid off 500 people in the last 18 months.

On the service side, the pension company will introduce next month an improved record-keeping system called TIAA-CREF Open Plan Solutions. TIAA-CREF will roll out the new product at Purdue University later this summer, said Weiner.

It will also offer independent investment advice to clients through a third-party, and roll out ever-popular lifecycle funds by the end of this year.

While TIAA-CREF officials are still working out the details on the lifecycle funds, Weiner did say that the lifecycle funds will be made up of TIAA-CREF's proprietary funds.

TIAA-CREF is not only adding new products within the fund arena, it is also adding other services, including checking and debit-card services. The rollout for the cash management services, which the company envisions as part of a larger brokerage platform, is at least six months away, said Weiner.

And what good are these moves without a branding campaign to accompany them? TIAA-CREF fired Ogilvy & Mather last November for a new advertising firm, Modernista. The Boston-based agency boasts that it only took a 90-minute lunch with "five guys dressed in black...East Coast hip" to convince TIAA-CREF to hand over the $25 million account.

The ad agency, which has worked on ads for Hummer and the Gap, is described in AdWeek as creating work incorporating "hip music and distinctive TV concepts."

TIAA-CREF's ad campaign will launch this summer, with a high-profile commercial airing on the opening night of the summer Olympics. It is also saying goodbye to its slogan, "Managing money for people with other things to think about." 

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