John Hancock signs its name to the state’s film industry tax credits

by Jon Chesto
Patriot Ledger &
October 15, 2009

Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise are relative newcomers to Boston. But they share something in common with longtime Boston institution John Hancock: They’re all involved with film and TV production work in this state because of our 25 percent tax credit.

In Hancock’s case, we’re talking about television commercials. They may not be as glitzy or glamorous as a big-budget action flick like the one being shot in Boston now with Diaz and Cruise. But the TV ads also provide an important boost to the local economy.

Hancock recently decided to shoot its TV commercials here, partly because of the tax credit and partly because the company wants to support other local businesses, according to Jim Bacharach, vice president of brand communications and creative services.

Bacharach told me that Motion Theory, a California production company, recently shot Hancock ads in a South End cafe, a Cambridge office building and a rail yard in Hyde Park. He says the ad featuring the cafe (Metropolis, on Tremont Street) is currently running with two previously shot ads during the Major League Baseball playoffs (yes, the ads continued even after the Sox dropped out) and college football games on national TV.

Bacharach says the ads are not aimed at portraying scenes in Boston in particular (although he says Bostonians will recognize the T car in the ad that was shot in Hyde Park). There are plenty of locales in Massachusetts that can double as a general backdrop for an insurance company ad that could resonate with potential customers in any state.

Unlike most of the companies that participate in the tax credit program, Hancock doesn’t resell its tax credits. Instead, Bacharach says the insurer – a division of Manulife Financial Corp. – claims the full 25 percent credit on all in-state production costs to reduce its own corporate income taxes.

Bacharach says John Hancock plans to continue shooting TV ads here in Massachusetts as long as the production cycle continues during months with favorable weather – proof that even our big financial companies can benefit from the tax credit program that was created nearly four years ago for the film industry.

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