Humor in Financial Advertising, Example #5: TIAA

Laura Pryor 03/30/23 - 2:13 pm

As we’ve seen with other examples of humor in financial advertising, relatability is one of the key factors that helps humor both entertain potential customers and foster goodwill for your brand. A joke that hits home with viewers gives them the sense that your company “gets” them. And the TV spots in TIAA’s “Never Runs Out” campaign are about as relatable as you can get.

Created by The Martin Agency, the campaign features moments when something runs out—battery power, conversation, childcare options—leaving the characters in a frustrating, familiar, and funny predicament. At the end of each spot, the announcer contrasts the featured dilemma with the lifetime security of TIAA’s guaranteed retirement income, which “never runs out.”

Why we love it

The idea of running out of money in retirement is a frightening and very real prospect for millions of Americans. But instead of terrifying its potential customers with scenes of poverty and regret, TIAA offers a gentle, relatable comparison that encourages people to prepare themselves financially. TIAA’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mark Elliot, explained, “We recognize that many people are uncertain about their financial future. Instead of stoking that uncertainty, we’re using humor and relatable moments from everyday life to reach people, and to help bring a sense of dependability, even certainty, to something as important as how you live in retirement.”

For parents with small children, the TV spot titled “Childcare” is especially relatable. Featuring a dad trying to conduct an online meeting while being besieged by his two curious young sons, the spot was first aired in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. When millions of parents shifted to remote work in early 2020, the spot became even more relevant, and offered a welcome laugh during a time when we all needed one.

These spots, and all the advertising featured in this blog series, show how effective humor can be when it stems from an empathetic understanding of customers’ lives, needs and aspirations. Humor that connects and engages with your target audience earns their appreciation and goodwill—and that’s a great first step toward brand loyalty.

This is post #5 in our blog series, Funny Money: Using Humor in Financial Advertising.

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