By LISA HIGGINS
Contributing Editor, Best
Practices in Compensation & Benefits
If you've seen the commercials, you may feel you've seen a reflection of yourself.
Bill, George, Cheryl, and Patricia, real-life managers of their respective companies'
benefits, are featured in a recent ad campaign for the benefits services of
According to CIGNA spokesperson Bruce Rekant, the company learned a lot from
talking with the HR people in their ads.
"If you look at advertising that's directed to (high-level management),
a lot of it features someone sitting at a desk with people talking to them.
Or they're in a conference room, or by the elevator. This makes them look like
they only wear one hat, that of a senior manager, as opposed to being a real
person. We wanted to portray them as they are-real people.
"We filmed them where they felt most comfortable; they picked the location.
Bill likes to run trails, so we found a picnic bench in the area where he runs,
and that's where we interviewed him. These were real, honest, true moments.
Showing them as one-dimensional office geeks just wasn't who these people were."
Rekant said he was struck by a common thread running through the interviews.
"People said: 'Employees don't always realize that I'm an employee, too.
I have to live with the benefits I select for employees, too.'"
Benefits managers "are a different breed from some of the management people
we talk to," Rekant says. "These are people who are truly passionate
about the employees and compassionate. They look at their jobs as balancing
between the needs of the organization and the needs of the employees. They are
advocates for employees, yet responsible to management. As an organization,
CIGNA understands that, and that every organization is different.
"In a voiceover at the end of the commercials, actor Donald Sutherland
says: 'Every benefits manager has a story to tell,' making the point that we're
there listening and understanding the company's needs. It's really something
we feel we're uniquely qualified to do."