Lincoln Financial Debuts First-Ever 100% Virtually Produced Commercial and Digital Content Series

21 September 2020

COVID-19 has altered our lives in so many ways. It’s changed the way we work, shop, access medical care and interact with friends and family. Now, you can add the way we produce content to that list, as Lincoln Financial debuts its first-ever 100% virtually produced campaigns: a new television commercial, “Now You’re Talking,” and a digital content series, “Plan. Protect. Retire.,” with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In the era of social distancing, people are connecting with loved ones in record numbers. For example, AT&T reports that mobile voice calls are up 35% and even landline calls are up 74%. Knowing that the more you talk, the better you plan, protect and retire, Lincoln Financial developed its new television commercial shooting real family members and new digital content series featuring interviews with Eagles pros to focus on the importance of making at least one of these conversations a financial one.

Shooting actors and professional athletes in their homes – completely virtually – was not only essential from a health and safety perspective but also captured the reality of what these conversations look like in the world we’re living in. It was an entirely new experience to the Lincoln advertising team and an opportunity that provided countless lessons along the way.

Here is an inside look at the making of the two campaigns:  

Part 1 – Not Your Traditional Commercial: “Now You’re Talking”
Developed in conjunction with ad agency, FCB New York, and production company, Knucklehead, “Now You’re Talking,” Lincoln’s new virtually shot commercial, focuses on the fact that families are talking more these days and how they should make time for one of their conversations to be about finances.

Producing a commercial in the era of COVID-19 posed its fair share of challenges, as actors, directors, producers and other members of the creative team could not be in the same location due to social distancing mandates. The team was able to overcome these challenges by hiring a director and production company experienced in remote filming and having actors shoot their own lines – sometimes with the help of a family member – using an iPhone 11 or DSLR camera provided by Knucklehead. 

Major differences the team experienced from a traditional production included:

  • Spread out, all together. Unlike traditional commercials, where the creative team and actors gather together on a set, the cast and crew behind “Now You’re Talking” were spread out across the globe. The director was in London, England, while the director of photography was in Celbridge County Kildare, Ireland (near Dublin), the actors were in their homes all over the U.S. and the Lincoln and FCB advertising teams were working remotely.
  • Video chat flexibility. Actors had to be coached on wardrobe, hair and make-up via video chat and the entire creative team watched remotely as they filmed their lines. An environment that forced the team to be quicker and more agile than ever before.
  • Welcomed “bloopers.” The actors’ lines were scripted, but the creative team deliberately carved out shoot time for real life to seep into the narrative. In a traditional commercial shoot, the director is likely to yell “cut!” if something unplanned happens. Not so during the “Now You’re Talking” shoot.  “Happy accidents,” like the commercial’s opening line with one of the actresses talking to the production team about what her mother was saying off-camera, brought a welcome feeling of realism to the footage.

“Those human moments make the end footage much more real,” said Angela Laubmeier Schema, vice president, advertising and sponsorships, Lincoln Financial Group. “It’s very relatable because family togetherness – whether in person or not -- is something we’re all experiencing right now.”

Part 2 - Capturing the Pros in their Homes: “Plan. Protect. Retire.”
Lincoln’s longstanding partnership with the Philadelphia Eagles has played a strategic role in elevating the company’s national brand awareness for close to two decades. It’s always been about establishing a real connection with Eagles constituents – players, employees, fans and community.

Since 2017, Lincoln has developed a digital content series with the Eagles that provides an inside look at player’s stories and their relationships with financial planning.  However, when it came to shoot the 2020 series, things looked a bit different – no big sets, no crew, and most notably – no Lincoln Financial Field.

In partnership with sports marketing agency, GMR, Lincoln captured footage remotely by interviewing this year’s talent, Coach Doug Pederson, Offensive Tackle Lane Johnson and Retired Safety Brian Dawkins, from their homes. This season’s series aligns with the theme, “Plan. Protect. Retire,” with each pro representing an individual pillar.

Lessons learned from filming the 2020 series include:

  • The need for more. In previous years, Lincoln’s advertising team was able to rely on settings such as Lincoln Financial Field and players’ hometowns to paint beautiful, engaging backdrops for the content. In 2020, all content was shot completely virtually at the pros’ homes in front of their computers. The team needed to identify a way to help make up for the “Zoom” video-feel limitation. The solution? More varied content than ever before! The team grew the series, to include interviews, a trivia game, a Lincoln Financial Field hype video”, inventive graphics, long-form articles, and more, providing fans even more ways to engage.
  • A fuller digital experience. With fans engaging from their homes more than ever this NFL season, Lincoln’s advertising team seized the opportunity to create a more robust customer journey for Eagles fans on the company’s website, The team created a landing page experience for the “Plan. Protect. Retire.” content that takes visitors through each pro’s full story, brings fans “back” to Lincoln Financial Field (“the Linc”), gives a view into the pros homes, dives into financial planning content and more.  

“We really wanted to capture the reality of the times in these campaigns,” said Laubmeier Schema. “Part of the magic for both the commercial shoot and the Eagles digital series was that we weren’t able to rely on a fake set, an impressive stadium or a picturesque downtown. We were in people’s real homes with their real loved ones and belongings, having meaningful conversations, amid a time of challenge for us all. It brought an extra layer of intimacy and authenticity to production.”

Watch the “Now You’re Talking” commercial and “Starting the Conversation” video from the “Plan. Protect. Retire.” series below: