2007 Eddy Award winners

The Pensions & Investments Eddy Awards recognize plan sponsors that have done a superior job of educating defined contribution plan participants about investing. This year we honor 30 winners from corporations, governments, not-for-profits and unions. Winners were chosen by a panel of judges (listed at bottom), many of them plan sponsors, who devoted two full days to evaluating all of the entries. (Those with entries themselves were excused from judging the categories in which they entered.) What follows is a description of each winning entry, taken from the judges' own comments. You'll see that entries run the gamut from simple to elaborate, but all share such traits as successfully accomplishing the goals of the campaign and strongly identifying with the employer. You'll also see winners whose brands are instantly recognizable, as well as companies you've probably never heard of before today.

So, without further ado, we present the winners:
Initial Education
Corporate: Less than 5,000 employees

First Place: Tree of Life Inc.

“Live Well, Retire Well” is the theme of the Tree of Life Retirement Savings Plan's initial education materials. They are warm, inviting and well-laid out, so the in-depth and comprehensive information is approachable, rather than intimidating. Tree of Life, a distributor of natural and specialty food products, used graphics in muted colors to explain key investment points, making the information easier to digest. One page that impressed the judges was entitled “How to read an investment profile.” Few companies do that, and everyone should, they said. Service Providers: New York Life Investment Management, Mahoney and Associates, AllianceBernstein (AB)

Second Place: E.ON US LLC

This entry is proof that gimmicks aren't necessary to effectively educate employees about investment topics and retirement. E.ON's printed pieces won because they are well-organized, tidy and clean. The company presented basic education in one brochure and plan-specific education in another. And it wisely decided to discuss one topic per two-page spread, making it easy to follow. Service Provider: Mercer HR Services
Corporate: More than 5,000 employees

First Place (tie): American Electric Power

Going one step further with the AEP Retirement Savings Plan's existing branding (a yellow light bulb with the title, “The Brightest Benefits”) clearly works for American Electric Power. Simply by adding the tag line, “A Great Plan Getting Better,” participants were assured that the changes being discussed were good, not bad. The posters were a big hit with judges. One poster encouraging diversification showed a slab of Neapolitan ice cream with the heading, “There are more flavors than vanilla.” The materials were comprehensive, including a good glossary, and were easily identifiable with the plan sponsor. Service Provider: JP Morgan Retirement Plan Services

First Place (tie): Brookshire Grocery Co.

Brookshire has automatic enrollment, but still wanted to increase awareness of its ESOP and 401(k) plan. Company officials created new materials centered on “THE GAME,” a great concept that is highly creative, highly engaging and lots of fun. The materials are easy to understand and simply presented. But it's the games, of course, that are the icing on the cake. There are word games in the middle of the “instruction manual,” captivating graphics of jacks, a pair of die, and game board pieces, plus game cards with retirement savings tips. The graphics are stunning, the use of color fabulous, even for a brochure about investment options.
Corporate: Less than 5,000 employees

First Place: Ball Horticultural Co.

Ball Horticultural Co.'s Profit Sharing Retirement Plan succeeded famously in what has to be an almost impossible challenge: reaching a widely diverse group of employees ranging from biochemists to Spanish-speaking seed sorters. Using simple, but gorgeous, photos of flowers guarantees readers will associate the materials with the plan sponsor, a company that researches, produces and markets ornamental crops to greenhouses and other distributors. The graphics create a relaxing mood, making it easier for employees to grasp the details of a transition to a new provider. Service Provider: Charles Schwab
Corporate: More than 5,000 employees

First Place: Jack in the Box

More than any other entry, Jack in the Box used its consumer marketing to the max in educating its employees during a conversion to a new provider. Its Easy$aver Plus Plan materials are totally customized and completely focused on employees and the plan. Everything features Jack, the fast-food company's fictional founder and a well-known icon. One judge noted that the materials “walked you through the process with ease.” As a result, Jack in the Box logged an 18% gain in enrollment, while more than 20% of participants elected to invest in its risk-based portfolios. Service Provider: Charles Schwab

Second Place: Denny's Corp.

Excellent branding that strongly identifies the campaign with the plan sponsor is the hallmark of Denny's entry. This casual dining company uses a plate and a menu easily identifiable as being from Denny's. Both are inviting to read as well, and are presented in English and Spanish in the same piece. In two months, the plan received more than 2,000 telephone calls and 500 Web hits. Service Provider: Wells Fargo Institutional Trust Services
Ongoing Education
Corporate: Less than 1,000 employees

First Place: Justin Brands Inc.

Everything is about the old West in general and boots in particular in Justin Brand's ongoing investment education packet. Makes sense, since the company began making cowboy boots in 1879. Its “Best Foot Forward” campaign features wonderful photos of boots, spurs and saddles. One brochure has a picture of a little girl's boot-clad feet and says, “Ensure a Proper Fit. Make sure you've chosen the investments that are right for you.” Another proclaims, “Spur Your Success. A guide to investing for retirement.” Justin does an excellent job of branding and customizing: Employees will instantly associate the materials with the company. Service Provider: Putnam Investments

Second Place: Larson Juhl US LLC

“What does your retirement look like?” was a novel contest sponsored by Larson Juhl, which manufactures picture frame moulding. Employees answered questions about their vision of a typical day during retirement, what activities they intend to pursue, and how their lives would be different. The winner got $500 and was featured in the new investment education program. Service Provider: Putnam Investments
Corporate: 1,000-5,000 employees

First Place: Panalpina Inc.

Panalpina made a smart decision to continue with a theme that was honored last year. This time, the company targeted employees with more than 80% of their 401(k) assets in stable value and/or bond funds. In “The Tortoise and the Hare, Part 2, also featuring the Moderate Mouse,” the targeted employee simply pulls a tab to learn about the animals' journeys to retirement. They are told that the slow but steady course of the tortoise might not ensure enough retirement savings, and that a balanced approach might be best. Judges said no one could resist pulling the tab in what they said is a simple, but fun and interactive, entry. Service Provider: Wells Fargo Institutional Trust Services

Second Place: Electronic Arts Inc.

Personalized mailings with bold graphics to appeal to its young, hip, artistic and tech-savvy employees were a winning combination for this developer and publisher of interactive game software. The results speak for themselves: The participation rate grew to more than 65% from 51% prior to the mailings; plus, 18.5% of participants increased their deferral rates. Service Provider: Charles Schwab

Third Place: Karsten Manufacturing Corp.

Many Karsten employees are baseball fans, so the theme, “Get into the Game,” was a hit. Posters in five languages ask: “Why be a benchwarmer?” More than 40% of employees attended meetings, where they got baseball caps and bags of popcorn, plus were included in a raffle for Arizona Diamondback tickets. Service Provider: Charles Schwab
Corporate: More than 5,000 employees

First Place: Hyatt Corp.

Mykey (pronounced “Mikey”) is a lively and colorful cartoon version of a hotel room key card that is the new mascot for Hyatt's Retirement Savings Plan. He's the key (pardon the pun) component of the hotel company's “Key to your Future” campaign. Mykey is an excellent way to connect the plan to the company — which is what branding is all about. Hyatt uses him simply, but effectively, throughout its enrollment kit. He's also featured on posters and is pictured on free T-shirts that promote the new company match. In six months, the participation rate rose a hearty nine percentage points. Service Provider: T. Rowe Price

Second Place: Universal Orlando Inc.

Appealing to young employees bombarded with clever advertising because they work in entertainment-heavy Orlando is difficult, but Universal Orlando succeeded. Its tools include a contest to name the 401(k) Kid mascot, as well as messages geared to holidays. Among the results: a 24-point jump in the use of target funds. Service Provider: Charles Schwab

First Place: IBEW Local No. 38

Trustees of this Cleveland-based electrical workers' union 401(k) plan wanted to make sure members would read their thorough explanation of the new age-based pre-diversified fund option. They succeeded by using the same photo (a trio of light bulbs that is both dramatic and attractive) in every piece, an image that is immediately recognizable to members. The tag lines varies, from “get connected” to “wired for retirement.”' Service Provider: Putnam Investments

First Place: New Jersey Transit

Each part of New Jersey Transit's “Get on Board to your Financial Future” package is targeted specifically to its union workers. Each features photos of the system's trains and buses on the covers and pictures of employees and their transit vehicles on the inside. New Jersey Transit did a thorough branding and customization job. The materials include information on managed accounts and investment advice. Each brochure focuses on saving and investing. Service Providers: Great-West Retirement Services, Kmotion

First Place: Trinity Health

“WANT IN?” is the theme of Trinity Health's ongoing education campaign. Mailings from the 403(b)/401(k) plan to targeted employee groups feature photos of people in similar jobs with captions like, “Bernie's in and her retirement savings account is loving it.” One mailer to all employees said, “Want in on a great deal?” Employees received a $5 -off pizza coupon if they presented the flyer to a rep and listened to a five-minute discussion about the plan. Service Provider: Diversified Investment Advisors

First Place (tie): Komatsu America Corp.

Komatsu's materials — designed to turn human resources personnel into plan advocates — are tied closely to the investment education program the company used in its special project to increase diversification. They feature an easy, pictorial guide that informs HR personnel of various deadlines and schedules. Judges said all plans should follow Komatsu's lead. They also gave Komatsu, a manufacturer of construction vehicles, high scores for creativity. The imagery is great, the messages are simple, and the goals are clear. “This is easy to follow, and that's what you want when you're dealing with busy HR reps,” a judge noted. Service Providers: Union Bank of California, Blue Communications

First Place (tie): Williams-Sonoma Inc.

The beauty of Williams-Sonoma's program, “First You, Then Two” is it's simple for a busy store manager to implement. They were asked only to consider the 401(k) plan themselves, and then present it to two other employees. “You think you can do this when you see it, instead of saying, ‘Oh no, another job,'” one judge commented. Managers were given easy enrollment forms to distribute. Employees merely had to check three boxes and sign the forms that already had their names, employee numbers and store numbers on them. Managers who returned at least 80% of their forms were entered in a drawing for an iPod. Service Provider: Charles Schwab
Special Projects
Corporate: Less than 1,000 employees

First Place (tie): Marubeni America Corp

You can't get more customized than this. Marubeni is a trading company that wisely chose to use trading throughout its printed pieces. “Would you trade $1 for $1.75?” talks about the company match, while “Would you trade 1% of your pay for a money tree?” discusses the benefits of compounding. There's even a drawing for employees attending a meeting, promoted as “Would you trade 1 hour for the chance to win $1,000?” The plan's mascot, MacSaver provides trade secrets about investing. The colors are lovely, the graphics superior and the theme consistent. This clearly is not off-shelf material. Service Provider: Blue Communications
Corporate: 1,000-5,000 Employees

First Place (tie): M.A. Mortenson Co.

Using the TV show “Extreme Home Makeover” as its theme, this construction company created building superintendent Guy Savingston, modeled after the show's Ty Pennington, as its 401(k) spokesman. Judges loved the freebies employees got — such as bobbleheads of Guy with his megaphone and plastic drinking glasses decorated with hardhats, saws, hammers and lunch pails — simply for attending a meeting or filling out a questionnaire. They also applauded Mortenson for requiring employees to take some action in connection with their 401(k) plan in order to collect a giveaway or be entered in a drawing. Service Provider: Wells Fargo Institutional Trust Services

First Place (tie): Komatsu America Corp.

Komatsu, which manufactures construction vehicles like backhoes and excavators, uses that equipment to brand its “What do you want to build?” campaign to increase participation. All of the materials are clearly identified and are simple to read and digest. A bulldozer shoveling money is an icon that appears on virtually every piece of paper. Mailers shipped in a tube have a fitting blueprint background. Everything is printed with the same colors found on construction signs. Komatsu also does a phenomenal job of presenting information to Hispanic workers with limited ability to read English. Service Providers: Union Bank of California, Blue Communications
Corporate: More than 5,000 employees

First Place (tie): Phelps Dodge Inc.

“Step Up to the Plate” is the theme Phelps Dodge chose to appeal to the average non-participant, a young male. The baseball-themed campaign was timed around Major League Baseball's season, and used the company's colors in materials that you simply wanted to read. Mailers look like tickets, programs, newspapers and baseball diamonds. One includes a pack of baseball cards with investment tips and a bag of Cracker Jacks. An unusual part of the materials is a discussion of the future of Social Security. The company clearly hit a home run: About 20% of targeted employees began contributing to the employee savings plan. Service Provider: JPMorgan Retirement Plan Services

Second Place: MGM Mirage

This is an entry that embodies what special projects are all about: simple (two home mailings, two workplace posters in the summer); fun (sunscreen, magnet and beach ball giveaways); and effective (7.5% of targeted employees enrolled in the plan following the campaign). The theme was taken from a bottle of sunscreen — SPF — which, in this case, stands for Savings, Participation, Future. Service Providers: MFS Retirement Services Inc., PartnerComm Inc.

Third Place (tie): Avaya Inc.

A fortune cookie that asks, “What's your retirement plan?” is catchy and a terrific way to brand Avaya's 401(k) Day celebration. Meetings featured a Zoltar fortune-telling machine and cookies containing messages directly related to retirement. “You always want to read the fortune,” one judge remarked. Service Providers: Fidelity Investments, Keating Concept

Third Place (tie): Burger King Corp.

“Pass the ‘catch-up please” and a small brochure that looks like its coupon book are only two of the ways Burger King cleverly branded and customized its campaign.” Materials are clear and simple, especially important since part of its goal was to explain to 400-plus employees why their defined benefit plan was frozen. Service Provider: PartnerComm Inc.

First Place: The City of Baltimore Deferred Compensation Plan

“It's real!” is how one judge summed up Baltimore's entry. The plan used photos of real employees, and real quotes from them. Testimonials from the seven employees — all well-known within their union groups — were meaningful and thoughtful, laced with classic investment education about such topics as compounding. “They really drew me in,” another judge commented. The campaign also features a new logo, as well as freebies such as a mini-tool kit and pens. All of the pieces of the project are designed to create an identity for the deferred comp plan that was separate from that of the city. Service Providers: CitiStreet LLC

Second Place: The State of Hawaii

Hawaii's Island $avings Plan has the single best freebie: a personal fan that lights up as the blades turn, saying “Breeze Toward Retirement.” Another giveaway is a key chain shaped like flip flops. The theme, “It's all yours,” uses eye-catching local photography such as outrigger canoeing to help customize information on asset allocation. Service Provider: CitiStreet LLC
Other Media

First Place: M.A. Mortenson Co.

Mortenson used a flash e-mail to its office workers that built upon its print special project. Rather than just using Guy Savingston, the e-mail features the company's CEO as a bobblehead cartoon character. The e-mail is unique, engaging and fun. “I wish I could get e-mails like this,” one judge said. The goal was to increase attendance at fall meetings. The result: a 29% increase in attendance. Service Provider: Wells Fargo Institutional Trust Services

Second Place: Ingalls Health Systems

Ingalls used “e-4” technology from its plan provider to entice employees to enroll in the plan and to enable participants to make changes instantly. Employees who attended meetings were given the hand-held devices that delivered customized investment education on the spot. Results were astounding: 88% of meeting attendees enrolled or made a change to their account. Service Provider: Mass Mutual Retirement Services
Susan J. Duncan
Vice President
ICI Education Foundation

Silvia Frank
Manager-Defined Contribution Plans
Trinity Health

Annette Grabow
Manager of Retirement Benefits
M.A. Mortenson Co.

Keith Overly
Executive Director
Ohio Public Employees Deferred Compensation Program

Bev Wilson
Manager of HR Communications
American Airlines

Tom Woodward
Director, Retirement & Benefit Services Division
Office of the Comptroller
State of Connecticut

Michelle DeMarco
Promotion Director
Pensions & Investments

Jenna Gottlieb
Pensions & Investments

John Hollon
Workforce Management

Rob Kozlowski
Editorial Assistant/Researcher
Pensions & Investments

Nancy K. Webman
Pensions & Investments