Leo Corbett – “A Whole New Ballgame”

Leo Corbett, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Prudential Insurance

Speech to Prudential employees at the company’s International Business Conference, June 1997—“Prudential Insurance: A Whole New Ballgame”

My Role:
I’d worked with Leo before, at Salomon Brothers, but we found that the insurance industry required a different idiom. This speech served both to introduce him to the company and to rally the troops. At the end of the speech, Leo threw a baseball into the audience. Then everyone at the conference received baseballs imprinted with the company’s logo and the tagline “A whole new ballgame.” For the rest of his tenure at the company, people recognized him as “the baseball guy.” It was a great for him to make an impact with Prudential’s very large workforce.

…Some of you may be wondering why we need a new game plan. Well, the fact is that since Art Ryan arrived, we’ve had to play defense to clean up the problems from the past. And we’ve done that very well. But now it’s time to put our offense on the field. It’s time to start scoring and winning. And to do that effectively, we need a new game plan.

You know, shortly after I came to Prudential, one very seasoned agent asked me, “What am I supposed to think about you, Leo? You haven’t worked in an insurance company, but here you are, showing up in the ninth inning and you’re supposed to help save the game.”

I thought that was an interesting analogy. And I said to him, “Well, if it were the ninth inning, I could understand you wouldn’t feel good about that. But it’s not the ninth inning. It’s the first inning of a whole new ballgame.”

It’s a new ballgame, because—and this may seem a bit radical—there really is no insurance industry anymore. Regulations have changed. Barriers have been torn down. Now banks—or their subsidiaries—are selling insurance. Insurance companies—or their subsidiaries—are selling mutual funds. Brokerages want in on our territory. The insurance business as you knew it no longer exists. It’s now part of the larger financial services industry.

Insurance is in a new ballpark these days. And we’re in it because consumers put us there. Consumers today are basically saying, “We just want to know that our families will be taken care of in an emergency. We want to know that we can send our kids to college. We want to know that we’ll have enough money to retire. And if you can do that for us, we don’t care if you’re a bank or a stockbroker or an insurance company. We just want you to do it.”

So the consumers built this new playing field—the financial services playing field. And the insurance business is heading out to play on this new field. And the brokerages and the mutual funds are heading out there, the banks are heading out there. There are discount brokers and even technology companies out there, too. The customers brought all of us to play in this new ballpark.

How we’ve played in the past matters very little. We’re playing in a new game now. It’s early in the new season and it’s not clear which teams are going to make the playoffs. I came here because I believe that Prudential is going to be one of those teams.

I came to Prudential because it was obvious to me—and it’s obvious to most people outside the company—that Prudential has all that it needs and all that it takes to win this new ballgame.

Let me say that again: Our competitors know Prudential has what it takes to win. We are the largest player in the life insurance field. And the strengths that put us on top in life insurance can put us on top in other areas of the financial services game as well. We have the brand, we have the customers, we have the agents, we have the capital, we have the leadership…