Perfect Combination Campaign: 2014 IABC Gold Quill Merit Award Winner

The "Perfect Combination" campaign: a 2014 IABC Gold Quill Merit Award Winner

The “Perfect Combination” campaign: a 2014 IABC Gold Quill Merit Award Winner

The Perfect Combination campaign was a special project where Hershey utilized an extended team from Vanguard to create a vibrant Hershey-personalized series of communications. Generally, Vanguard provides Hershey with stock communications, which would then be “Hersheyized” (this is a term I coined to describe inserting Hershey branding, benefit program names, and style elements).

I’d love to take credit for designing these communications, but I can’t. That credit goes to the Vanguard team led by my counterpart at Vanguard, communications consultant extraordinaire, Joe Russo. As much as everyone wanted to use actual brand images, and knowing how many hoops that would have to be jumped through to get the needed permissions, I convinced the team to use ingredient images instead. While not featuring the iconic Hershey-brand images, the graphics are vivid and eye-catching.


Increase web registration on, Hershey’s 401(k) plan administrator from the then-current 66%.


JNC role: As an integral member of the Hershey Retirement Plans Communication Team, I advised the team on image use (such as the iconic brand images vs. the ingredient images), collaborated on messaging, guiding the team on plan execution, developing the project plan, and editing. Many thanks to Dave Merkt, manager, retirement plans, and Joe Russo, for stepping in and making sure this campaign went off per the project plan when a scheduled two-week medical leave unexpectedly became six weeks (I call this the time “my kidney tried to kill me”). Fortunately, I planned ahead and all communications were approved and ready to go before my leave.

Audience: Varied. Described below.

The following are a sample of the 11 multi-channel communications used in the Perfect Combination campaign.

Vanguard Web Registration Mailer 2013-05-13 thumbnail
Multi-fold mailer sent to U.S. mainland hourly employees that allowed the recipient to “unfold” the simple messages.

Vanguard Web Registration HVS 2013-05-14 Thumbnail
Posted in all U.S. mainland plants.

Vanguard Web Registration Posting 2013-05-23 US thumbnail
Perfect Combination postings (U.S., Puerto Rico)
U.S. mainland employees, Hawaii salaried, and Puerto Rico employees directed to the website postings through digital signage, posters, and an article in the May 2013 myHR News.

Vanguard Web Registration Mailer 2013-05-28 thumbnail
Follow-up multi-fold mailer sent to U.S. mainland hourly employees that allowed the recipient to “unfold” the simple messages. Sent to those who had not yet registered on


Perfect Combo Results

The Perfect Combination campaign resulted in a tactical and aesthetic success. The campaign increased registration on 6.3% to 72.3% – 4.3% above Vanguard’s average registration rate. Why is this important? Employees who are web registered are more involved in and knowledgeable about their retirement plan and consequently more appreciative of the benefit — resulting in a more engaged employee.

The Perfect Combination campaign received a 2014 International Association of Business Communicators Gold Quill Merit Award.

More Information

I appreciate your comments and feedback about any of these communications. Let me know what you like or don’t like or if you have any questions about the communication strategy, the program, or vendors used. Just ask me!

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