It’s not always easy to engage consumers in financial services, but Prudential helped spark conversations surrounding saving early, investing early and participating in workplace benefits with a life stages-themed escape room, as part of the Fast Company Innovation Festival, Oct. 22-26 in New York City. The Prudential Escape Room, a 1,056-square-foot multi-room activation, took place in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall.
The experience began with consumers challenged to “escape their parents’ basement.” From there, they moved on to office life and the “sandwich years” of raising a family and taking care of aging loved ones. In each vignette, complete with stage-specific décor and props, they had to understand the financial situations tied to that stage and then “escape from” them by solving challenges and taking part in activities like dancing, hacking and even engaging in a little whack-a-mole—all to eventually unlock the final stage and escape to retirement. Unlike traditional escape rooms, consumers weren’t timed by a clock counting down the minutes, but rather, one counting up in years. The quicker consumers escaped, the younger they’d retire.
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“We historically have been known as a life insurance company and this really broadens people’s view of the different product offerings we have out there that really ladder up to helping people achieve financial wellness,” says Alison Lazzaro, vp, gm-brand marketing and advertising at Prudential. “It also allowed us to give the people participating in the experience more information about the products and services we offer, and in turn, they’re willing to give us some personal information about themselves.”
The activation, as part of a Fast Company Innovation Festival media sponsorship, came on the heels of Prudential’s newly launched The State of Us platform. Prudential hit the road to meet consumers and talk about the financial struggles of Americans—their fears, challenges and whatever financial situations they are going through in their life. The content was featured in “The State of US” docuseries that documented these conversations.
“What we’re talking about with this program is the link between your financial health and your overall well-being, so many people today talk about health-health, mental health, emotional health, and really, what we’re trying to inject the conversation is financial health being the next frontier of your overall well-being, and this was a way to bring that to life,” Lazzaro says.
Nearly 200 participants signed up to go through The Prudential Escape Room in teams of six, and all told, 1,376 challenges were solved over the course of the activation. The installation itself was built by 21 carpenters and required 21 hours to load in and install. Agency: Droga5, New York City.