You can blame it on Hollywood’s March 2015 release of the movie, “The Big Short,” which served as a reminder of the housing bubble collapse built on greed and faulty loans. And because the housing crisis is still running raw in our veins, the “Rocket Mortgage” ad gives us a sense of déjà vu.
Certainly, the decision by Quicken Loans to run their Rocket Mortgage ad during the Super Bowl was a bold move – one that got many of us talking in our comfy living rooms and sports bars – but definitely for the wrong reasons. After the 60-second commercial aired, costing a cool $5 million, much of America was saying, “Did we not learn anything from the housing crisis of 2008?”
The Rocket Mortgage ad opens with an interesting thought: “What if we did for mortgages what the internet did for buying music … and plane tickets … and shoes?”
Don’t you agree that the significance of purchasing a home and entering into a long-term mortgage is completely downplayed when it is compared to downloading a $1.29 song on iTunes or ordering a $150 pair of running shoes online? For many Americans, our home is the most expensive investment we will make in our lifetime, and the ad puts this financial decision on the same level as an impulse buy.
Push Button. Get Mortgage.
“You can get a mortgage on your phone, and if it could be that easy, wouldn’t everyone buy homes? … Further stoking demand for necessary household goods as our tidal wave of ownership floods the country with new home owners – who now must own other things.”
The ad narrator makes this quick-click mortgage process a natural benefit to everyone in the country. She explains that if mortgages were easier to get, more people would get them. Those people would need stuff to fill their homes, which creates more jobs – and more workers who would then have enough money to get a mortgage of their own.
It sounds like a win-win for everyone, right?
While we don’t disagree that a direct correlation can be made between home ownership and economic growth, the ad falls short. The tagline “Push Button. Get Mortgage” makes the mortgage application process seem as though it truly is that simple. With one click of the app, a mortgage will appear in your shopping cart. Not everyone with a phone is going to qualify for a loan, and if they can, we’re heading straight back to 2008.
Easy-to-Use Technology Is the Story.
The technology that took Quicken three years to develop is the real story behind how the Rocket Mortgage app works and should have been the focus of the ad.
As Regis Hadiaris, Rocket Mortgage Product Lead for Quicken Loans, explained in a recent Forbes article, “[We are] taking all that information into the platform making it super simple for people to use … Our goal is to have everyone’s information on the platform. We have a network of public and private data sources that is expanding every month and we can match a person to their income and match their bank and asset accounts.”1
As far as the ad itself, Quicken Loans should have made it clear to the skeptics that this is not instantaneous, but rather a sped-up application process aided by technology.
Placing the ad to run during the Super Bowl did nothing to explain that process, or even what Quicken Loans does. The ad did, however, accomplish one thing: worry the public.
Mae Anderson, a technology reporter for the AP (@Maetron), dubbed this ad one of the losers of the Super Bowl: “Some viewers took to Twitter to complain the ad reminded them a little too much of the 2008 financial housing bubble and subsequent financial crisis.”2
While the Rocket Mortgage app may well offer due-diligence and efficiency in the speed in which someone can apply for a mortgage, this ad crashed and burned for its lack of sending off the right vibe.
1 Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomgroenfeldt/2016/01/20/eight-minutes-to-mortgage-approval-at-quicken-loans-took-three-years-of-development/#2063044f1eda
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