The 4A’s, TIAA And The Martin Agency On Reinvigorating Partnerships

In partnership with The Drum, the 4A’s created a content series titled ‘Convene. Challenge. Change.’ As part of the series, 4A’s president and chief executive officer Marla Kaplowitz will lead a discussion with an agency leader and one of their marketing partners to discuss challenges, opportunities and new ways of working in a post Covid-19 environment. The series will also challenge norms, identify learnings and inspire actions that will create new standards to help drive the industry forward.

In the third episode in the series, Kaplowitz talks with Stephen Tisdalle, chief brand and demand generation officer of TIAA, and Kristen Cavallo, the Martin Agency’s chief executive officer. Together they probe some of the more challenging aspects of the business, and reinforce the strong partnership that marketers have with their agencies and the value they deliver.

When Tisdalle joined TIAA only five-and-a-half months ago, the partnership between the Martin Agency and TIAA was almost 10 years old. What made him defy conventional wisdom and stay with this agency of record, when so often new management means a new agency? “The quality of your advertising is only going to be as good as how strong the brief is, and that can really start to inspire the creative.” He adds: “I threw the gauntlet down and said we’ve got to do a 180° here. We have to completely change the game in terms of what we are communicating. What was amazing is they [the Martin Agency] rose up and said ‘Bring it on.’”

Tisdalle and Cavallo offer insights into how their long-standing relationship ultimately led to a successful campaign helping women overcome the income retirement gap. The Martin Agency was able to dial up the tension of the reality, and that led to a more stirring and thought-provoking campaign than they’ve ever done together – ‘RetireInEquality,’ which they point out can cleverly be seen as Retire In Equality or Retire Inequality.

They both reflect with Kaplowitz that they felt they had a very clear enemy, and things are not as they should be. Too many times women wait too long to think about retirement, and if you wait until the middle or end of your career, it’s almost too late. With 60% of TIAA’s client base being women, to not address this major problem would have been unacceptable.

“There is a very real statistic that shows that by the time women get to the end of their careers, they are roughly 30% worse off in their retirement, meaning that they have 30% less money to retire with than their male peers,” says Cavallo. “On top of that, you add that women tend to live five years longer, and this becomes bigger than a business problem. This becomes a real human problem.”

What gave Tisdalle the confidence, beyond recognizing it was reaching his core demographic, to making this deviation from TIAA’s past advertising efforts? “My history is doing unconventional things, and when you are feeling uncomfortable, you know you probably landed somewhere.”

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