Fort Lauderdale, Fla. - The Eddy Awards premiered at Pensions & Investments' Defined Contribution/401(k) Conference, starring a cavalcade of award-winning defined contribution education campaigns loaded with charm, creativity and solid investment information.
The Eddy Awards, previously known as P&I's Defined Contribution Investment Education Awards, recognize high-quality investment education for plan participants.
And now, the envelopes, please!
* First-place honors for an initial education campaign went to Cole National Corp., Twinsburg, Ohio, for corporate plans with more than 5,000 employees; to Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc., Elko, Nev., for corporations with fewer than 5,000 employees; to the Virginia Retirement System, Richmond, for public plans; and to the New York City Carpenters District Council, for union plans.
* In the ongoing education category, the first-place winners were Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., Atlanta, for companies with more than 5,000 employees, and R.C. Willey Corp., Salt Lake City, for plans with fewer than 5,000 employees.
* First-place winners in the special projects category were J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., Lowell, Ariz., for companies with more than 5,000 employees; Bailey Nurseries Inc., St. Paul, Minn., for companies with fewer than 5,000 employees; and Federal Deposit Insurance Co., Washington, for public plans.
* New media first-place honors went to Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio, in the corporate plan category, and the Florida State Board of Administration, Tallahassee, in the public plan category.
This year, the virtual red carpet was rolled out for 27 Eddy Award winners in 11 categories at P&I's Defined Contribution/401(k) Conference in Fort Lauderdale last week.
The winning entries chosen for all categories identified strongly with the plan sponsor, were creative - although not necessarily expensively produced - and clearly imparted investment information. In the judges' opinions, the winning plan sponsors did a superior job of educating their employees and submitted campaigns that represent the best practices in the investment education field.
Cole National, with the help of CIGNA Retirement & Investment Services, created a movie theme to improve appreciation and understanding of the 401(k) plan and to encourage participation. The company also used the campaign to announce that CIGNA would be the semibundled provider of its $70 million defined contribution plan. The previous vendor was Merrill Lynch Benefits and Investments Service.
The campaign was kicked off with an announcement postcard that had a picture of film reel; it read, "Here's `reel' good news about your financial future." A second piece, titled "Get Ready to take Action on Your Financial Future" contained a foldout with details including fund mapping information, dates and deadlines. This was followed with payroll stuffers with such statements as "The stage is set" and "Grab a seat, the show's about to begin." All the pieces featured pictures of popcorn, directors' chairs, Oscar statuettes, etc. The meeting invitation, in the shape of a movie ticket, included a bag of microwave popcorn.
Judges applauded the movie theme and how consistently it was carried through. While the plan participation rate remained at 25%, the average deferral rate among new enrollees did increase a couple of percentage points to 7.8%. Judges appreciated the concise and readable information contained in the materials.
Barrick Goldstrike Mines created its winning campaign, which evoked the Old West, with the help of Fidelity Investments and Mantra Communications. The mining company started out with an envelope, printed to look like a Western leather envelope, that read "Uncover the Benefits." All of the materials had a logo depicting mountains, and the poster and other printed materials also bore the slogan, "The Expedition of Discovery ... Your Guide and Journal." The campaign resulted in increased participation among Barrick's eligible employees, to 86% from 65%.
Judges thought Barrick's campaign materials were creative and clever and that they tied in well with the industry. They also were impressed with the "good content that was in plain English."
The Virginia Retirement System's "The Nature of Retirement" campaign included photos of places and wildlife in Virginia.
"It was a collaborative effort between the retirement system and our record keeper, Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co. Corp.," said Laura Pugliese, investment officer. The system had been through an internal reorganization and had just hired Great West as record keeper, and "we wanted to develop a way to speak with one voice among our various plans in the system including defined contribution, defined benefit and health care," she said.
Plan officials also wanted the materials to mean something to plan participants, she explained. So, they included pictures of familiar places such as Virginia Beach, the mountains and the historic town of Williamsburg. A photo of a trailhead had the caption, "Let nature take its course."
The New York City Carpenters District Council designed its "Tools to Build your Financial Future" campaign to explain the 401(a) plan's conversion from a trustee-directed to a member-directed plan. They also wanted it to stress the importance of diversification. The materials were tied to the industry, featuring pie charts made of bolts and bar charts depicting hammers.
Coca-Cola Enterprises, assisted by record keeper Putnam Investments Inc., won first place in ongoing education with a new look and feel for the campaign the company will continue to use for future plan communications, said Darlina Walker, human resources specialist for the plans. The star of the campaign is a new character developed by Putnam for Coca-Cola, Mizz Fizz, the "spokesbottle." It also created a bubble motif for all campaign communication materials.
The purpose of the campaign was to explain a new match formula and a revamped investment menu, expanded to 34 funds from nine, Ms. Walker said. Plan officials organized the new lineup into three tiers - lifestyle, core and sector funds - to make them easier to understand. "There was a lot of information to absorb, and we wanted to make the materials inviting and easy to read," she said.
Mizz Fizz also is on the participants' website, where she is animated. "The bottle cap pops off and the bubbles come out," Ms. Walker said. Mizz Fizz also appears on the plan's summary annual reports.
R.C. Willey, a home furnishings store chain, depicted furniture and furnishings in its materials with price tags containing bits of useful information such as "The Good News: Americans are living longer; 50 years ago, average life expectancy was under 65. Today, it is over 76." Captions had tag lines such as "Furnishing your retirement" and "Diversification: your cushion against risk."
Plan officials wanted to encourage participation by newly eligible employees and to provide ongoing education for current participants, said Pamela Moser, benefits manager. The campaign used a mix of specialized education with a few off-the-shelf education pieces, she said. Workshops were announced in employees' quarterly statements, the in-house newsletter and postcards. Plan participation increased to 66% from 58%, much of that from newly eligible employees, Ms. Moser said.
Judges were enthusiastic about Willey's "unique approach" to investment education. They found the materials to be "colorful and very professional" and liked the important retirement and investment information contained in the "price tags." on the materials.
The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co Inc., Montvale, N.J., won second place for ongoing education for companies with more than 5,000 employees for a campaign it launched last year with the help Prudential Financial. Tied for third place were Lucent Technologies Inc., Murray Hill, N.J., and Scholastic Corp., New York.
J.B. Hunt, with its record keeper and investment provider, Merrill Lynch, created a catchy postcard campaign combined with "gimmes" including a hand grip attached to a postcard proclaiming "Get a grip." Eligible employees also received personal projection statements. The result was that 4.17% of the targeted population enrolled, and the average deferral rate for these newly enrolled employees was 6.53%, slightly above the 6% employer match.
Judges complimented J.B. Hunt for a campaign that had a clear message and was fun. "I liked the gap analysis. They really tied it together," noted one of the judges.
Winning in a second category, Bailey Nurseries' "Building Retirement Securities" program included a workshop aimed at helping employees learn about how they were doing at saving for a secure retirement. The materials included a poster and bound workbook illustrated with a variety of flowers including orchids and sunflowers.
The FDIC won first place for public plans with a campaign aimed at educating participants about the plan's new design, revamped investment menu and benefits. The FDIC and record keeper T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. created a pamphlet; postcards; an enrollment kit; an intranet "Splash page" with a link to the retirement plan Internet site; and an informational "magic cube" that unfolds.
The result of the campaign was that half the assets invested in funds that were being closed were actively moved instead of being moved by default. Moreover, during the first three months of the campaign, participants moved money from one investment option to another twice as often as they had during the previous three-month period, according to Ann Rzepka, accounting benefits program manager for FDIC's plan.
The cube particularly enchanted judges. "You could throw the rest of the materials away but if you kept the cube, you would still get enough information," one judge remarked. "It's something to play with when you are on one of those boring conference calls," said another judge.
Second place in special projects for companies with more than 5,000 employees went to Morris Communications Corp., Augusta, Ga. Tied for third place were Darden Restaurants Inc., Orlando, Fla., and Ethan Allen Inc., Danbury, Conn.
Carle Clinic Association, Urbana, Ill., won second place in special projects for companies with less than 5,000 employees, and Rental Services Corp., Scottsdale, Ariz., placed third.
Battelle Memorial used several media to alert employees when it changed service providers to The Vanguard Group. Assisted by Vanguard and D&D Interactive, Battelle Memorial used targeted flash e-mail communications with an animated nautical theme for non-participants, participants saving less than the match amount and participants saving more than the match but less than the maximum. It created a CD-ROM, which declared that it only takes "five steps and 15 minutes to take charge of your plan," and a website, which carried through the nautical theme. The website contains pop-up definitions of concepts such as "risk and return."
The Florida State Board of Administration, assisted by Ketchum Communications, Ernst & Young LLC and Financial Engines Inc., created a website aimed at helping employees who had the choice of selecting among the defined benefit plan, a new hybrid plan or a new defined contribution plan. The website included calculators, plan choice information, retirement and financial planning guidance, defined benefit and defined contribution plan comparisons and a copy of a booklet that was sent to each employee's home. The website also had case studies with titles such as "Man discovers odds of winning Lotto aren't great; makes new retirement plans."
More than half of employees surveyed by state officials rated both the website and the choice service "very useful" said Kevin SigRist, chief of defined contribution programs for the board.
State officials tried to create an Internet portal that would bring together everything employees would need to know about the plan choices, along with investment guidance and advice. Because participants will have a second opportunity during the course of their careers to make a choice, the website will continue to include retirement and financial planning information, he said.
This years judges were: Alison Davis, director of employee benefits for CCL Industries Inc., Rosemont, Ill.; Susan J. Mann, director of benefits and human resources information systems, for Borders Group Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich.; Cheri L. Meyer, program manager for the American Savings Education Council, Washington; Sharon J. Paulus, director of compensation and benefits for Deluxe Video Services Inc., Deerfield, Ill.; Mr. SigRist; Ramona S. Walden, manager of retirement strategy for American Airlines, Fort Worth, Texas; Fran Scott, consultant for Crain Communications Inc., Detroit; Michael J. Clowes, editorial director for Pensions & Investments, New York; Nancy K. Webman, editor of P&I; and Michelle DeMarco, promotion director for P&I. Judges who had contest entries were excluded from judging that category.