Putnam Investments, Boston, is trying a new tactic in its efforts to educate employees about their companies' 401(k) plans and increase participation -- guilt.
Its initial weapon in this assault is what they call the "Mothers" video, a new three-minute film meant to be used as the kickoff to enrollment meetings, said Kathy Sharpless, a Putnam managing director and communications director.
The video features four ethnically diverse actresses who appear to be in their 60s, admonishing viewers with the kinds of things many heard their parents say when they were younger. It starts out nice and then reverts to a "nagging" tone:
* "Don't talk to strangers."
* "Don't forget to call when you get there."
* "Don't roll your eyes at me."
* "If Joey jumped off a bridge, would you?"
The admonitions are interspersed with cards listing facts about Americans' failure to save for retirement and cards encouraging them to join the retirement plan.
A sample: A mother says, "Money doesn't grow on trees." A card then flashes, "But it can when you invest it in your retirement plan."
The video ends with why viewers should join their retirement plans and the mommies encouraging them: "You can do it, I know you can."
Herman Miller, a 75-year-old furniture and office design firm in Zeeland, Mich., was one of the first companies to preview Putnam's video. Employees said it was an attention grabber that helped them understand that investing in the company's 401(k) plan was not "rocket science," said Jack Schreur, director of corporate communications.
It has a happy ending: all the mothers come on screen one at a time and say, "I'm so proud of you."
Then a card comes up: "Listen to your mother. Invest today."