Prudential Financial transforms its end-to-end content creation process.
“When you have a seat at the table, you need to make sure people understand that creatives aren’t just there to make things pretty. They’re there to solve problems.”
VP and Group Creative Director, Prudential Financial
Modernizing creative workflows for a 148-year-old company
Coaching college softball and working for a Fortune 100 financial services company may seem like polar opposite careers. But for Bridget Esposito, a former athletic coach and current VP and Group Creative Director at Prudential Financial, they couldn’t be more similar.
“There's never a day that I don't see the similarities between coaching and the way I work as a creative leader,” says Esposito. “Accountability, team dynamics, culture, working through adversity — all are valuable coaching and leadership skills that are proving critical in creating a marketing powerhouse at Prudential that is customer-obsessed, driven by data and analytics, with a culture of creativity.”
Those skills catapulted Esposito into a leadership role at a critical time for Prudential. And she would come to rely on them as she and the marketing team took on the challenge of revolutionizing and reinvigorating the 148-year-old company’s creative workflow and team culture.
Like other long-established companies, Prudential needed to make a significant transformation to handle the demands of a modern digital marketplace. Content velocity — the ability to create, manage, and publish digital content to the right audiences as quickly as possible — is essential for business success, but it’s not easy to achieve. When Esposito took on a leadership role in the newly formed Prudential Creative House, her team was saddled with an extreme volume of work that overloaded creatives with more tasks than they could possibly complete.
Solving these challenges would ultimately involve reworking the content creation process, elevating creativity across the organization and laying the groundwork for exponential increases in productivity. Also key was forging vital connections with other departments, powering the new process with a connected system of tools including Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Workfront, and Adobe Experience Manager Assets — and applying the team-focused approach to leadership she developed as a softball coach.
“Being able to self-service certain capabilities, like cropping an image five different ways, gives our creatives more time to focus on other high-impact work.”
Director and Product Owner of MarTech Creative and Collaboration Stack, Prudential Financial
Democratizing creativity throughout the company
The team’s first move was to reduce the overwhelming amount of manual work on her team’s plate. Many of the assets requested were simple and duplicative of previous work. So, they asked, what if that work could be automated so that requestors could generate those assets themselves?
The creative team built branded templates and made them available across the organization in Adobe Express, a free online design app with a quick learning curve that allows non-creatives to create on-brand content. Teams began to self-serve and customize tasks such as social posts, email banners, flyers, and other assets — all consistently branded and easily accessible.
“Create once, use many” has become a mantra for the team, enabled by the Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries built in Creative Cloud apps — AdobeInDesign, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator — and accessed in Adobe Express.
“Being able to self-service certain capabilities, like cropping an image five different ways, gives our creatives more time to focus on other high-impact work,” says Terry Chu, Director and Product Owner of the creative and collaboration stack for the Prudential martech team.
Some creatives feared losing control of assets, wondering whether other teams would follow brand guidelines or make their jobs irrelevant. But they quickly learned it didn’t have to be a trade-off, and that there were multiple benefits to the new process.
First, a unique feature in Adobe Express alerts the creative team any time someone uses a template, allowing them to quickly check the work and give final approval. The result has been a more consistent brand for Prudential across social channels that utilize the templates.
The new process also reduced the load on the creative team. Now they have more time to work on high-value, high-creativity projects like new videos, large brand campaigns, and new product launches that allow them to draw on their deep expertise and flex their creative muscles.
Digging deeper for audience insights
The next step was to get the right information for creative projects. The team reconfigured the creative brief process to include detailed insights about the audience and project goals, and they standardized its use across business lines.
Once the new brief was established, consistent discovery calls were taking place with the strategists at the start of each project, and the creative team found it helped projects move more quickly and their working relationships with partners improved. “On those calls, we collaborate with our marketing strategists to really push on what will help us differentiate, ‘What is that true insight that's driving the target customer, and how do we get them from A to B?’” says Esposito. “It's a much clearer conversation that’s less transactional and more focused on the goal. And with each group bringing their specific area of expertise to the table, the cumulative results are inspiring.”
To keep the insights in the brief front and center throughout the lifespan of a project, they began adding it to Workfront — the single source of truth that coordinates all the moving pieces and people involved in each project.
“Workfront is the muscle. It’s like the bouncer outside,” says Esposito. “The entire team knows that when creative work is needed—large campaigns or small projects—the first question we ask is: ‘Is it in Workfront?’” It also gives Esposito visibility into project resources so she can quickly address when people are overloaded or projects are stalling.
Workfront also integrates with other apps, including Creative Cloud apps and libraries, so creatives can complete Workfront tasks from within Photoshop or InDesign — a big time-saver. And an integrated proofing tool helps efficiently gather client feedback, helping avoid confusion or error.
This new process is empowering the team to drive powerful creative campaigns, including the Curtain Up! Broadway Festival, a three-day outdoor theater experience in Times Square that Prudential sponsored in partnership with Playbill. From the discovery call and audience insights to the efficiency of coordinating all assets through Workfront, everything was in place to successfully manage a complex campaign.
The Curtain Up title sponsorship provided an ROI of 1.24x. It engaged 5,600 people on-site, a 365% increase YoY, and consumers who engaged were 11% more likely to consider Prudential.
Curtain Up was mentioned along with Prudential more than 3,000 times across social media channels and in more than 2,000 articles with a net positive sentiment of 94%. And because the Creative House team tracked everything through their new system, they already have data to start planning for next year.
“We find that having creative leaders at the table for strategic discussions is an excellent precursor to high-impact work. By bringing the creative team in earlier in the process, we can leverage our problem-solving skills to craft innovative solutions to real business problems. That’s when the magic happens!”
VP and Group Creative Director, Prudential Financial
Elevating the work through strategic collaboration
Esposito’s management style, shaped by her years as a college softball coach, focuses heavily on teamwork. And being a good teammate involves contributing ideas, she says, so she encourages her team to speak up. She remembers one designer who approached her to suggest using a proofing tool in Workfront instead of creating individual PDFs for a website review process. “It saved a lot of people a lot of time, and it came from someone being curious and looking for a better way to work,” she says.
Esposito also encourages her team to get involved as problem-solvers across the organization. “Encourage people to stretch out of their own lane. We all swim in the same pool, right? We need to share what we know,” she says.
When the creative team is part of conversations in the planning stages, they can proactively help elevate work for Prudential instead of reacting later once things are already in process. “We find that having creative leaders at the table for strategic discussions is an excellent precursor to high-impact work. By bringing the creative team in earlier in the process, we can leverage our problem-solving skills to craft innovative solutions to real business problems. That’s when the magic happens,” says Esposito.
An important cross-department connection Esposito prioritized was with the Prudential martech team. It began with implementing integrations between Workfront and other Adobe apps, and it grew into a strategic partnership.
“When we started this journey, Creative Cloud wasn’t fully integrated within our martech stack,” says Anna Hudes, the Chief Product Officer for Prudential. “Now we’re driving operational efficiencies and content velocity by connecting the tools the creative team is using to downstream marketing systems. Having an advocate on the martech side means having a partner who understands their needs around the right tools and connections they need to be most effective.”
“When we started this journey, Creative Cloud wasn’t fully integrated within our martech stack. Now we’re driving operational efficiencies and content velocity by connecting the tools the creative team is using to downstream marketing systems. Having an advocate on the martech side means having a partner who understands their needs around the right tools and connections they need to be most effective.”
Chief Product Officer, Prudential Financial
The modern creative house
Refining the creative process at the Prudential Creative House is an ongoing endeavor. The current project, in partnership with martech, is to make creative work easier to find and reuse by implementing Adobe Experience Manager Assets across the organization. The team is migrating 36 terabytes of content from five repositories into Experience Manager, which they plan to use for work in progress, libraries, and approved marketing materials.
From democratizing creativity to centralizing workflows, new processes and tools have freed the Prudential Creative House to be more strategic and productive. Their branding and messaging are more cohesive across the organization, employees are more satisfied, and modern workflows are helping them meet content needs and increase the company’s bottom line.
Insurance and investments can be intimidating topics, but Prudential creatives are harnessing the power of storytelling to help people understand and tackle their financial challenges, making one of the oldest financial services brands one of the most relevant today.
“It’s Prudential’s purpose to make lives better by solving the financial challenges of our changing world,” says Esposito. “So every day we challenge ourselves by asking: How do we make this topic easier to understand? How do we help other people like us break down the financial barriers that hold us back? That’s why we love our job. That’s what we live for.”
Watch Bridget Esposito’s Innovation Keynote, Impactful Experiences: From Content Creation to Personalization, at Adobe Summit 2023.
Then, explore the tools that help Prudential Creative House manage more than 8,000 assets every year. Create stunning social graphics and short videos with Adobe Express, keep all of your projects in one place with Adobe Workfront, and easily manage thousands of assets with Adobe Experience Manager Assets.