Prudential, marketing nickname “The Rock,” just released this tragic tale ad last week in South Africa. It tells the story of the 1911 race to the South Pole between two explorers, Brit Robert Falcon Scott (loser, who died) and Norwegian Roald Amundsen (winner).
It explains that Scott’s expedition hoofed it during good weather but took cover when things got too icy, while Amundsen traveled the same distance, every day, no matter the weather, and thus won the race. “Consistency” was his secret. And “consistency is the only currency that matters.” Fade up logo, and we’re out.
The metaphorical point of this real life Tortoise versus Hare ad? If you don’t want to die, invest with Prudential—which is a macabre message coming from a company that currently holds more than $2 trillion of life insurance worldwide.
From the music to the snow-covered dogs to the frostbite photos to a quick shot of a man seemingly falling to his death into an icy ravine, this is just such a fucking depressing commercial. And then, there’s that cryptic line of signoff copy: “consistency is the only currency that matters.” Firstly, says who, besides you? Secondly, It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but that can be said about most corporate slogans. And that voice makes it sound undeniable.
The v/o talent, you may recognize, is Sean Bean, who certainly does have a marvelous deep voice (check him out in this wonderful spot for Train Simulator). But he is, unintentionally, a pretty funny voiceover choice for the world’s largest life insurance company, when you consider that Bean is known as the “two-legged spoiler” because he has died violently in over 25 of the films and TV shows he’s appeared in.
Some of Prudential’s company history has bearing here. When they first opened for business in 1875, they sold only burial life insurance, a product Scott could have certainly used. At about the time the British explorer and his four comrades were dying from cold and starvation, Prudential was building its empire by bilking poor city folks. Continuing with this depressing death march, in 2010, Prudential manipulated payouts to the families of dead American soldiers, essentially withholding their pieces of “The Rock.”
What happened to the cheery message Prudential gave us in this animated commercial from last spring? Or the optimistic ad they ran in the last Super Bowl?
Now, the world is a cold place where losers die. Fuck you. Signed, Prudential.
The commercial was created by the Cape Town office of worldwide ad agency Lowe, and was directed by Keith Rose of Velocity Films.