Brand Storytelling in Corporate Communications | Fidelity Investments

Fidelity Investments had a problem.

In companies throughout America, employees were not signing up for health and retirement benefits as much as they hoped.

So Fidelity decided upon a corporate communications initiative to help resolve the issue.

The company would host a series of conferences nationwide for HR and benefits managers, providing seminars and workshops as well as a forum where benefits professionals could exchange ideas, stories and strategies.

We were asked to come up with a way to help launch the event.  It was important to do so in a manner that would immediately engage participants and set a congenial tone for the entire length of the conference.

Video was the chosen medium.   And we were given a brief that offered a great deal of creative and strategic freedom, the only mandatory being that the film be “human” and “emotionally illustrate the importance of health and retirement benefits to people’s lives.”

The story behind the story

Our first solution was a traditional corporate communications approach:  video vignettes of people and families from around the country discussing how benefits had helped them.

It was a fine and workable solution, and since we were under a tight deadline to begin casting for the video production, we and Fidelity decided to move ahead with it.

But something was nagging at us.  Our strategy just seemed so… conventional.  It would lead to the kind of video anyone would expect to see at a corporate conference.  The script just seemed to shout “corporate communications.”

So the night before the casting we got to work on the script, exploring ways we could make it better.  But we were stumped.  All of our improvements were at the margins.
We had a fundamental  problem.  There was something wrong at the strategic level.

At about two in the morning, with empty pizza cartons and cups of cold coffee cluttering our conference table, the frustration spilled over:  “the hell with it,” one of us yelled, “who needs this assignment…who needs benefits anyway?”

And voilĂ .  We had a solution.

We would turn a conventional strategy on its ear.  Instead of illustrating the “benefits of benefits,” we’d have people discussing how benefits are totally unnecessary.  Instead of creating a documentary, we’d serve up a “mockumentary.”

It wouldn’t be corporate communications; it would be human communications.  Something that would engage people on a level that felt honest, real and perhaps best of all, funny.

We worked through the night perfecting this idea and called Fidelity early the next morning as casting was already underway for our initial video.  When we presented them with the new strategy and script, they knew immediately that it would lead to the kind of corporate communications that really gets people talking.  So they gave it the green light.

A happy ending

Best of all, this story has a happy ending.

Since our strategy and story were clear and simple, everyone was on-board. That kind of consensus led to a smooth shoot and an easy edit.

Best of all, the result of our all-night script development session was something really special: a faux-documentary that had them laughing in the aisles, and led to highly successful series of conferences for Fidelity.