Alliance for Lifetime Income Sponsors Rolling Stones’ New Tour

The two dozen life insurers and asset managers in the Alliance for Lifetime Income have purchased sole signage sponsorship of the Rolling Stones 2019 US tour. The Alliance expects its message to reach 1.5 million concert-goers and 24 million more people through social media. But is the campaign too subtle to sell annuities?

Rock and roll will never die; that’s a fact. So how better to tout the financial benefits of life annuities than by associating them with something that will live (and collect payments) forever?

And who better represents the immortality of rock than the British band whose members, no matter how haggard and wasted they may look today, always seem to have one more live concert tour in their bones?

The Alliance for Lifetime Income must have been thinking along these lines when its members—two dozen of the largest life insurers and asset managers, and others—decided, at whatever outrageous cost, to sponsor a Rolling Stones tour in the US this spring.

Yes, it’s true. Deferred annuities with lifetime withdrawal benefits will headline with the world’s longest-running rock band—those laughing bad boys whose lyrics mock death: Painting it black, midnight-rambling, mailing dead flowers to ex-girlfriends, and confessing sympathy for the devil.

The news release was embargoed until 12:01 a.m. today:

The Alliance for Lifetime Income is proud to announce that it is the sole sponsor of the 2019 Rolling Stones “No Filter” Tour. The tour will take place in the U.S. from April to June 2019.

The Rolling Stones are age-defying icons who continue to operate at the cutting edge of entertainment and business. Similarly, the Alliance is at the forefront of financial security education, creating awareness and helping educate Americans about the need for protected lifetime income.

Jean Statler, Executive Director of the Alliance said, “This partnership with the Tour gives us a great opportunity to educate young and old about the need for protected lifetime income and financial security, so that whatever your age, whatever adventure or road you choose, you can keep doing what you love.”

The 16-show “No Filter” Tour will kick off on April 20th at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami then [move] to Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans, Glendale, Pasadena, Santa Clara, Seattle, Denver, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Foxborough, East Rutherford (two shows) and conclude with two shows on June 21st & 25th at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The tour was first announced last fall and reported in Billboard magazine and at “The tour will mark the band’s first extended run of shows in the U.S. since 2015’s “Zip Code” tour, though they played Desert Trip in Indio, California, two Las Vegas arena gigs and two private shows in 2016. In the past two years, they have only toured in Europe. Unlike the marathon tours of the past, they did just 14 shows in 2017 and another 14 [in 2018],” the Salon reporter wrote.

From left: Richards, Jagger, Wood, and Watts.

Two well-informed sources have told me that the Alliance started out last year with a budget of around $50 million, raised from the two dozen member firms. In a press call today, Statler wouldn’t say how much the tour sponsorship cost, but said it was “cheaper than a Super Bowl ad” and an “incredibly efficient” way to reach 1.5 million Rolling Stones fans directly through concert attendance plus another 24 million people through social media chatter.

“Most importantly we’ll have co-branded signage that will highlight the Alliance’s association” with the famous band, she said. “You can’t always get what you want. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with risk in retirement.” She mentioned that the Alliance will have access to concert tickets. I’m guessing that they’ll be offered to distributors.

The Alliance’s goal was to launch a two-year campaign to boost awareness and brighten the image of annuities among the US public, in the spirit of the famous “Got Milk?” campaign of the 1990s.

Last year, the Alliance produced slick network television commercials, spots on National Public Radio and full-page newspaper ads featuring several professional daredevils—a diver who swims with sharks, a woman who drag-races rocket cars, a volcano wrangler—all of whom, despite their acceptance of huge occupational risks, own annuities with living benefits to dampen post-retirement financial risk. There’s also been a national tour where passersby at big events can enter a blue Alliance for Lifetime Income trailer and experience sharks, drag racing and volcanoes through virtual-reality headsets.

An “Alliance for Lifetime Income” banner will presumably hang above the performers during the shows. If so, some people might mistakenly interpret that phrase as the reason why these four septuagenarian musicians are collaborating on another sure-to-be sold-out American tour.

I applaud the effort to teach Americans about the importance of establishing sources of guaranteed income during retirement. Whether they buy an annuity or not, middle-class baby boomers, I believe, can’t afford to enter retirement not knowing what annuities can do for them. But marketing is tricky. I’ll be curious to see if this campaign is too subtle in its avoidance of the word “annuity.”

If the Alliance doesn’t mention annuities by name, can it build enthusiasm for them? The campaign has a fantastic hook, and it may break through the noise. But what’s the explicit call to action? Also, the Alliance members specialize in deferred variable or indexed annuities, which carry lifetime income riders. If advisors present that feature as a secondary characteristic of the product, will the messaging be effective?

For the record: Mick Jagger will turn 76 next July, Charlie Watts will be 78 in June, Ronnie Wood will be 72 in June, and Keith Richards reached 75 last December.

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