From pet supplies to groceries, from wine and spirits to printing products, brand identity was a dominant theme among the winners of the 2013 Eddy Awards.
The winners were announced March 11 during Pensions & Investments' East Coast Defined Contribution Conference in Miami. The awards have been sponsored by P&I each year since 1995. They recognize DC plan sponsors and service providers for best practices in investment education for participants.
Capturing the true spirit of a corporate brand being used to educate plan participants was Southern Wine & Spirits, Miami, which won first place in the corporate ongoing education category with a mixture of business-related puns, charts and photographs.
“Learn to mix your investments” was the headline for a discussion of target-date funds and stand-alone mutual funds. “How to serve up a greater future” was the catch-all heading for several topics — including deferrals (“call the shots”) and the corporate match (“raise a glass to free money”). A video featured a “savologist” explaining investing the way a mixologist would describe mixed drinks.
“We wanted it to be a little fun but with a lot of substance,” said Michelle Toney, director of benefits. “We used all of the tools of the trade.”
Executives at Southern Wine & Spirits had been concerned about the plan's participation rate, and Ms. Toney said a focus group of participants revealed there wasn't much communication about the benefits. Focus group members wanted more graphics and charts, rather than text, in education materials: “People would understand it more with graphics,” she said.
The participation rate was 46% in June 2012, when the campaign was launched. By January 2013, it was up to 54% and by March 2013, it was 55%.
“There was no debate” about the 401(k) education theme at Petco Animal Supplies Inc., San Diego, said Julie Adamik, director of benefits planning and design. A quarterly 401(k) guide features the headline “Barking About Benefits” as well as Bennie the Bulldog, the mascot for the education campaign. (Bennie, it now can be told, is female.)
“The driving force” for the education campaign was the bond between people and pets, said Ms. Adamik, whose company placed second in the corporate ongoing education category. “My goal was to make the information entertaining and fun. It doesn't have to be intimidating.”
Heidelberg USA Inc., Kennesaw, Ga., used a multicolor presentation that linked the company's printing press, products and supplies business to its retirement plan. The campaign won first place among corporate plans with fewer than 5,000 employees in the conversions category.
The “Color Your Retirement” campaign featured a series of posters and postcards with 401(k) information, highlighted in various colors. The combination created a clear and colorful description.
“We wanted to align the 401(k) plan with what we do,” explained Susan Nofi, senior vice president for human resources and general counsel. “We've had a 401(k) plan for 29 years, and we always preached it to our employees. It was time for a reaffirmation of the 401(k).”