World War II ground progress to a screeching halt in Poland and many people and businesses were forced to leave the country or risk what would eventually become incredible tragedy. Prudential Insurance was one of those businesses but was about to re-enter the market after 74 years. The problem for Prudential is that two national brands, PZU and Warta, dominate the category. These two providers possess a heritage and trust that cannot be matched by outsiders and create what is effectively a duopoly in the market. Without this foundation that is necessary for brands in the insurance category, Starcom MediaVest needed to find a way to build brand awareness and preference for Prudential against impossible odds.
Before WWII, Warsaw was known as the “Paris of the North,” a jewel of a city on the cutting edge of modern advancement and investment. Indeed, Prudential Insurance thought so much of the city that in 1933, it built and opened what was the second tallest building in Europe at the time, The Prudential Building, as its local headquarters. As a result of the war and occupation, roughly 85% of Warsaw’s buildings were leveled. Miraculously, The Prudential Building was not one of them. Though it was reduced to its steel framework, the building became a symbol of hope and determination for all Poles, featured on many resistance posters. And even though it was rebuilt post-war as a hotel with no connection to the past owners, locals still called it The Prudential Building.
Since the company has been absent from the market for this entire time, only the eldest Poles remember the origins of the name. Communists reconstructed the city but it never got back its pre-war character. Seeing the Polish capital in its stunning original form is all Poles’ unfulfilled dream. Starcom's idea was to show them what Warsaw looked like when Prudential first saw the country’s potential and why it sees that opportunity, yet again.
With Newborn animation studio and Prudential as sponsor, the agency created “Warszawa 1935,” a 3D movie presenting Warsaw at its pre-war apex and reconstructing the city with incredible detail using digital technology. The movie would offer Poles a glimpse of what Warsaw and Poland were like in 1935 when Warsaw built a cultural centre and modern infrastructure that was the envy of the world, with palaces, art nouveau townhouses, parks and squares ceased to exist, becoming memories that lived only in its inhabitants’ hearts. With its skyline and The Prudential Building as the star. As Warsaw again finds itself in a local creative revolution, its citizens can take pride in its rich history as it looks for future inspiration and see that Prudential has always been a part of Warsaw.
The movie premiere built a huge momentum and resulted in a conversation that took place in all key Polish media and cultural outlets. 60,000 links to the movie were created on the internet. Trailers without promotion reached over 500,000 views and the film was played in theatres for over five months.
After the movie release, a CrossMedia study showed that 42% of the target group was aware of the 'Warszawa 1935' movie and aided awareness of Prudential as the movie sponsor was 11% (a very good result for an unknown brand). Research also showed that a large part of brand visibility in social media discussions was associated with Prudential’s patronage over 'Warszawa 1935'.
Internet users’ statements that were the subject of the study named it 'a creative and valuable marketing approach'. Prudential reappeared in the Polish collective consciousness. By reminding Poles of their history, they built a foundation for one of the most crucial factors in the insurance business: TRUST.