Super Bowl Watch: 5 Questions With Quicken Loans President Jay Farner


Quicken Loans Super Bowl 2016 #rocketmortgage ad

Leave it to a Detroit-based brand to come up with one of the most optimistic advertising statements in the Super Bowl. That’s what Chrysler did with the Eminem-starring “Imported From Detroit” ad during Super Bowl XLV five years ago. And it’s what Quicken Loans aims to accomplish with its first Super Bowl commercial, titled “What Were We Thinking,” that will debut during the Big Game on February 7.

Sure, the Super Bowl 50 ad buy has a specific and critical business purpose: promoting Quicken’s new Rocket Mortgage product, described as the “first end-to-end completely consumer-driven online and on-demand mortgage experience.” The ad muses, “What if we did for mortgages what the Internet did for buying music, plane tickets and shoes?”

In other words, if more Americans took advantage of this convenient new service to “turn an intimidating process into something less daunting,” as Quicken puts it in a press release, the more people will buy houses more quickly, and buy things to outfit them, and it will all boost the economy in a “tidal wave” of consumption.

To entice Americans to buy more, Quicken is launching a sweepstakes to give away hundreds of items from, and inspired by, the commercial, such as a Viking Range, KitchenAid mixers, Shinola bikes—all made in the US.

Quicken Loans - Super Bowl ad - Push Button Get Mortgage

The pitch for the “push-button” Rocket Mortgage: it allows quick and easy comparisons of interest rates, mortgage terms, monthly payments and fees based on individualized financial information and goals; viewing of individualized three-bureau credit reports; and receiving full mortgage approval within minutes. Or as Quicken puts it: “We created Rocket Mortgage to make getting a home mortgage faster and easier. Because more home ownership unleashes the power of America itself.”

There’s a larger purpose afoot in advertising Rocket Mortgage during the Super Bowl and in doing it with a lesson in Economics 101—with a made-in-America appeal, to boot— just as there is, for instance, in how Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert is investing billions of dollars in the revival of downtown Detroit.

“There’s no better place to communicate how Rocket Mortgage will help Americans reach their home ownership goals, and in turn impact the entire economy, than during America’s favorite game,” Jay Farner, president and CMO of Quicken Loans, stated in the release.

Farner talked with brandchannel about the ad, the Super Bowl, and Quicken’s larger mission.

Quicken Loans Super Bowl 2016

bc: Why add boosting the US economy and “made in America” to what could have been a rather straightforward Super Bowl message about easy online mortgages?

Jay Farner: We’re based here in Detroit, and we’re pretty focused on rebuilding Detroit and supporting American companies. It’s what we do.

bc: Still, why use your first Super Bowl spot to celebrate the power of capitalism?

Farner: We believe in America. The strength of America has been created upon those that are innovative and build and support innovation. That’s the engine of America. Here is a process that removes a barrier and helps people to invest in their futures and their families.

It’s no secret that millions of Americans are sitting on the edge right now, who could buy a home, and the complexity and inconvenience of the process is holding them back. What if we made it simple and transparent and allowed you to do it when you want to do it, on your terms and your time? Would that cause people who are sitting on the sidelines to engage or to buy a home? If they do that, it’s good for everyone; that’s always been the power of America. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat.

bc: You haven’t really made that a feature of Quicken Loans marketing before, right?

Farner: No. The story here is transforming how people think about financing things, but there’s no stronger driver for the economy than home ownership. The idea is: How does it all feed on itself? If more people are investing in homes, how many more jobs is that creating? All jobs are important, but if we have a choice, we would prefer jobs be created here in the States.

We had a choice in our sweepstakes to give away items that were manufactured or assembled in other countries, or in Detroit and the US. That’s kind of our philosophy. When we have an option or a choice, we focus on things in the US. The things that some companies choose to offshore, we choose to do them in Detroit. Not everything can be done that way, of course.

bc: Are you concerned about another Super Bowl ad—that of SunTrust, another financial services brand, which will focus on “financial anxiety” and how their website and consumer education can ease the distress that so many households feel these days?

Farner: I’m not sure the ads will be that much different. Transparency and ease are the two biggest things that cause people not to move forward with financial transactions that could benefit them. The product we’re offering solves both those concerns.

bc: Why do you think there are so many new entrants, like Quicken, in the Super Bowl this year?

Farner: I’m not sure. As brands think about their marketing spend differently, sometimes when they spend their dollars they want to have a direct and attributable return. When you do a digital ad online you can track people who clicked and did a mortgage. But we’re also seeing brands getting to a tipping point where the business is bigger than just a directed lead flow.

When you’re thinking about an important message, you’ve got to position a brand differently than the competition does, so it makes sense to spend money in a forum like the Super Bowl—even if you can’t measure it lead for lead, or client for client. We’re at that point.

Quicken Loans Rocket Mortgage