John Hancock Puts on Their Storytelling Hat With ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Narratives

A father walks up to a room in his house, knocks on the door, and says, “Look. We still need to talk about this.” He pauses, opens the door, and asks, “Can I come in?”

What do you think happens next?

That’s just one of the questions financial services company John Hancock is challenging its audience to answer in its recent “Life Comes Next” campaign.

Choose Your Own Adventure

The multi-platform project, produced by Boston-based content agency Hill Holiday, includes four of these 30-second commercials. They air on television, introduce a family issue, and then end on a cliffhanger, inviting viewers to “Find out what happens at #LifeComesNext.”

Those who follow through and visit the company’s site will find a Choose Your Own Adventure-style narrative: There are three different endings to the story, each roughly one minute long. Appropriately, each ending dives into the family’s financial woes, including paying for college, planning for retirement, and securing life insurance.

The first possible ending for “The Knock” finds the dad telling his daughter that he can’t send her to a certain school because the family can’t take on so much debt. While the dialogue continues, stats pop up about how families around the nation are faced with similar issues: “Last year, the average college student graduated with over $35,200 in college-related debt.”

The ads then encourage viewers to seek out a financial advisor at John Hancock, as well as to share their reactions to the stories on social media with #LifeComesNext. also provides visitors with information, tools, and guides for planning the next step in saving for retirement, affording education, planning for long-term care, and more financial considerations.

Along with this digital campaign, John Hancock’s Retirement Plan Services branch also launched a new trade advertising campaign focused on issues of fairness. The company will publish a few funny stories about retirement planning, which will run in print and online versions of Plansponsor, Planadviser, and NAPA Net, according to a press release. One of the ads asks, “You wouldn’t pay for your co-worker’s parking every day. Why would you pay for their 401(k) recordkeeping costs?” Each will also be linked to a short corresponding video.

Within just the past year, several content marketing trends have emerged that are transforming the finance industry right now, such as native advertising and the increased use of video, as we highlighted in our latest “State of Finance Content Marketing” e-book. Financial services companies are ahead of the game when it comes to embracing content marketing as a way to target and engage new customers—primarily because they have a great deal of important information to offer about how to manage wealth, and that’s something consumers crave.

Just as American Express evolved from printing short travel brochures to running one of the most successful online hubs for finance with OPEN Forum, so John Hancock, a company that launched in 1862 with just four people in one room, proves that it can adapt to the ever-changing marketing landscape through the power of storytelling.

Image by John Hancock

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