Biggest to Fastest: 5 Questions With Quicken Loans CMO Casey Hurbis


Quicken Super Bowl LII 2018

Big news and advertising opportunities have intersected at the right time for Quicken Loans, which has jumped from the huge marketing stages of the Super Bowl to the Winter Olympics to communicate that the brand has become America’s largest mortgage lender.

“The notion of becoming America’s largest lender was a cherry on top, and that information came to us with fourth-quarter [financial] results,” Casey Hurbis, Quicken’s CMO, told brandchannel. “We were able to pivot at the end to wrap it all up by telling 11o million people [with the Super Bowl ad], ‘Here we are.’ The timing was amazing.”

Quicken has extended its theme of “Making the complex simple”—as in making home mortgages understandable for the average consumer—with ads for its Rocket Mortgage online brand in the Big Game and the Olympics starring Keegan-Michael Key, a versatile actor and comic who also hails from Quicken’s hometown of Detroit.

Key made his name as the co-star of Comedy Central’s sketch series, Key and Peele, in which he has played several characters, including Barack Obama’s “anger translator” Luther. Quicken wanted him to repurpose that character to sell mortgages, explaining cultural memes and other puzzling aspects of today’s world in terms people understand. And so viewers would think of Quicken and Rocket as their guides to the sometimes-complex world of home lending.

Hurbis (right) is also proud to be from Detroit, as he notes on his LinkedIn profile:

I am one lucky son of a gun…….to be born and raised in the Detroit area and now having the chance to be part of the amazing story that is being written in downtown Detroit. We are powered by purpose in everything we do and I am responsible for leading the 200+ strong in-house agency team in creating innovative brand communication strategies that will build our brand(s), leading to increased awareness, relevance and respect among our prospective clients. How so?
-Develop breakthrough creative that is relevant to our clients and delivers a smile
-Find the right audiences and deliver the right message every single time
-Identity like-minded partners and leverage our brands to make our clients lives easier
-Utilizing our 17,000 Quicken Loans team members and our family of companies to advocate and be influencers within their own personal community
-Tell the story of “Who We Are”— this is an amazing company and culture and our story has to be told everywhere.

Casey HurbisHe tells us more in our latest Q&A:

Casey, what’s your strategy to make the most out of this being an Olympics year on top of returning to the Super Bowl?

We made the decision to start developing creative concepts and ideations for the Super Bowl back over the summer. In July, we started the creative concepting process. I have an in-house creative team but I went to a number of agencies and took them the same exact brief. In a sense we had a jump-ball Super Bowl pitch, and I looked at over 100 ideas.

For Rocket Mortgage, we briefed the agencies that our campaign would be similar to what we’ve done over the last year about how to make the complex simple and how to make a daunting process simpler and to clearly communicate the benefits of Rocket Mortage.

Then we looked at the 1oo ideas and broke it down to 30 ideas and looked at proof of concepts. One idea kept rising to the top. Along the way we didn’t announce that we’d become America’s largest mortgage lender until a few days before the game. That wasn’t the crux of the ideation and briefing. It was highlighting the confidence campaign.

Compared with two years ago when you were last in the Super Bowl, how are you following up this time?

We were in the game then and as follow-up we ran spots through the course of the year. For us in this year, when we shot the Super Bowl spot we shot a wide variety of these life-complex situations where Keegan is able to translate or make it more simple. We’ll have a wide array of spots over the balance of the year with Keegan serving as our translator. One will run in conjuction with the Olympics, about how curling can be a confusing sport. I’ve been watching since I was five years old but I don’t understand the scoring and strategy, and he explains it. We shot some basketball spots too that we’ll roll out as we get closer to the NBA playoffs.

What’s the appeal of Keegan-Michael Key?

We also considering a wide variety of other actors and comedians, but he was on our short list from the beginning. He’s from Detroit—ding-ding-ding! We took the creative to him before even starting talent discussions and he absolutely loved it, he and his head writer, who’s also his fiancee, and they wanted to collaborate with us on it from the beginning. We were able to shape the comedy and the acting to fit Keegan’s style. But we weren’t interested in using one of his characters. We wanted this to be who Keegan is. And people told me beforehand that they couldn’t have met a nicer gentleman. He went above and beyond with us with collaboration, with improvising with us on the set, with helping us shape the final product. I’ve been around my fair share of [celebrities] and he’s the nicest I’ve ever met.

What’s different about this Olympic Games?

In a time-shifted world, news and sports are mainstays in the broadcast world. Olympics and live sports are still two primary broadcast platforms we continue to invest in, and no matter what, in the world we live in, you’re not going to time-shift it. You’re going to be watching it maybe with your second or third screen along the way too.

The Olympics have evolved. Even though they’re multi-time zones away, they’re time shifting their stuff to make sure American audiences are watching it live. As we looked at this campaign and we noticed the Olympics were five days after the Super Bowl, it’s a great way to have a double hit. There is a crossover from Olympics to the Super Bowl and then you pick up different audiences along the way, too.

What does it mean to market Quicken and Rocket now that you’re the biggest?

It just means more people are chasing you trying to pick you off. We’ll have more integration of that. And also with 12 J.D. Power awards, we know we’ve got great servicing and consumer experience.

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