Updated with correction.
Animation, humor and personalized messaging proved to be winning strategies for many of the 66 Eddy Award recipients honored March 9 in Orlando, Fla., for their retirement plan communications campaigns.
The winners announced at Pensions & Investments' 26th annual Eddy Awards were chosen from a near-record 175 entries, which competed in six categories: plan conversions, financial wellness, plan transitions, pre-retirement preparation, special projects and ongoing investment education.
"The winners stood out from the crowd for the creativity of their educational efforts in service of defined contribution plan participants, including targeting specific cohorts of participants and their families, " said P&I Editor Amy B. Resnick, who also served as one of 22 program judges.
This year's batch of winners distinguished themselves for diverse campaigns covering everything from "rainy day funds" to rollovers and required minimum distributions. Many employed multiple channels of communication to ensure that their campaign messages reached participants — no matter their age.
Many of the champions focused on financial wellness, a topic that plan sponsors and their service providers often approached in a light-hearted and personalized manner.
Southern Co., a first-place winner in the financial wellness category for corporate plans with more than 5,000 employees, for example, made financial wellness a family affair. The utility company and service provider Smith Communication Partners developed a "teaching kids about money" campaign that was pegged to a coloring book character called Jimmy, named after company founder James Mitchell.
Loaded with custom illustrations of power lines, lamps and light switches, the coloring book follows Jimmy as he learns about earning, spending, saving and investing.
In addition, the campaign featured other educational materials, including conversation cards for parents to engage their children, a piggy bank, an Instagram stories website and a Money 101 website for high school and college students.
"Most schools aren't teaching kids about finances and so a lot of that has to be done at the home," said Bob Beideman, Southern Co.'s Atlanta-based retirement director.
The goal of the campaign was "to create a future generation" financially savvier than previous generations so that when today's children start working, "they will have a better understanding of the programs their employers are going to offer," Mr. Beideman said.