In 2015, Freakonomics dedicated an entire podcast to the Prudential TV campaign, entitled "How to Make a Smart TV Ad."

I never thought I’d make an episode of Freakonomics radio extolling the virtues of a series of TV ads for a financial services firm. But. The ads are, to me at least, tiny behavioralist masterpieces.

The ads are interesting, in part, because they drop miniature bombs of academic research. And also because they feel weirdly authentic. I say weirdly, because they are TV ads.

The presenter is Dan Gilbert, a psychology professor at Harvard.

The ads are shot in documentary style. Gilbert being himself. Average people, being themselves. But each of the ads also has a visual trick. Data visualization, in fact, writ very large.

All these ads, they all point to something we’ve talked about on the show repeatedly. Most of us are pretty bad at forecasting the future. And planning for the future. Especially when it comes to money.

The ads are so interesting that you almost forget of course that they’re trying to sell you something.
— Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics Radio.

Behind the Scenes – The Prudential Dominoes Experiment

We built a 30-foot tall domino in Charlotte, North Carolina to demonstrate how small investments can make a huge impact over time. Here’s how we did it.

The Prudential Dominoes Experiment :30

Could the money in your pocket make an impact on your retirement? We built a 30-foot tall domino to demonstrate how even small investments can grow over time. The results are pretty surprising. 

The Balloons Experiment