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SOM to Fortune 100 CMO: "I wear no pants"

TIAA-CREF is a Fortune 100 company with $420 billion in assets and $34 billion in annual revenue.

If you're under 35, you've probably never heard of them.

What do they do? TIAA-CREF is the leading provider of retirement plans for people who work for schools, hospitals, and other non-profit institutions. The company manages retirement assets for 3.7 million people in the U.S. - so, roughly one in sixty Americans over the age of 18.

Why haven't you heard of them? If you're a prospective MBA applicant reading this blog, you're probably under age 35. TIAA-CREF has failed to publicize its brand to our demographic. Fidelity and Vanguard, on the other hand, have sunk millions into advertising - recognizing that when Generation Y goes to elect a retirement plan offered by our employer, we're much more likely to pick a brand we've heard of.

To figure out how to market to under-35s, TIAA-CREF's chief marketing officer came to the Yale School of Management this week. She and her senior executives came to listen to SOM first-years. As our final project for Prof. Sudhir's core course on the Customer, all first-years analyzed TIAA-CREF's positioning strategy, then developed an advertising campaign to help the company target young professionals like us who have tight budgets, student loans to repay, and low likelihood to save for retirement.

I'll let the results speak for themselves. The following advertisement was developed by Jay Babshet '14, Wesley Royce '14, Kevin Duffy '14, and DePaul Vaughn '14.

--Daniel Weisfield, J.D./M.B.A. '14