This is a branding ad, with a soft call to action that's nearly invisible at the bottom of the ad. (It's buried in the last paragraph of body copy and directs the reader to Prudential's web site.) The photo is obviously supposed to pull at the heart strings for an emotional appeal. Warm and fuzzy, yeah. Effective? Mmmm ... not so sure this is going to lead to thousands of hits on the Prudential web site. And what makes this ad really NOT direct marketing at all is the lack of a code or unique url to tie a web hit directly back to the ad and measure its effectiveness.
The fact is, people are hearing so much bad news about the economy and looking for ways to cut back on everything from cell phone bills to holiday gifts that buying life insurance might be the last thing on their mind. Insurance is never an easy sell at any time of the year. It's an intangible product, often bought out of fear - versus an impulse buy or a highly desirable commodity. It's something you either have to have (ie: auto insurance) or know you need (ie: health or life insurance) but hope you don't really have to use.
Some insurance marketers may argue - and in in my opinion, rightly so - that insurance is even MORE important to have when times are tough. After all, it can provide big dollar protection for a small monthly outlay. This Prudential ad tries to do that. But a harder edge and stronger call to action might be more effective - especially in these tough economic times.