‘Avengers: Infinity War’: Q&A With Quicken Loans CMO Casey Hurbis

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Rocket Mortgage and Marvel Avengers Infinity War commercial

Like the cape on an old-fashioned superhero, Quicken Loans is soaring on a great and wild ride after partnering with Avengers: Infinity War, which has turned into the No. 1 box office performer in history.

America’s largest mortgage lender filmed a promo video with the Avengers crew, and Spiderman gives long exposure to a billboard in the movie with a Quicken ad. That’s been enough for Quicken Loans CMO Casey Hurbis to feel that the Rocket Mortgage brand already has received an outstanding return on in its investment in partnering with the Marvel Studios blockbuster.

“We’ve got 98% positive sentiment on social media, which is actually higher than we got for our Super Bowl ad [in February, starring Keegan-Michael Key], and that was nothing to sneeze at either,” Hurbis told brandchannel. “There was a ton of hype and a lot of anticipation for Marvel coming off the success of Black Panther, but having the largest box-office in history is amazing.”

Avengers: Infinity War broke opening weekend records and continued to dominate, becoming the second highest-grossing film in weekend two in North America, after Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Globally, the film has grossed more than $1.2 billion and become the fastest film to cross the billion-dollar box office mark—and that was before opening in China.

The in-movie placement: In one of the movie’s actual scenes, near the beginning, Thanos’s henchmen are trying to destroy some superheroes, and Spiderman ends up riding a Rocket Mortgage billboard before it crashes into the street. Off-screen, Quicken’s marketing support included its initial spot showing a woman using its Rocket Mortgage app while walking through an epic fight scene featuring the movie’s characters, plus additional videos and content.

brandchannel caught up with Casey Hurbis in the wake of the record movie opening:

Why do you think Avengers: Infinity War appealed to movie-goers around the world and smashed all previous records?

Quicken CMO Casey HurbisThis is the opinion of an ad guy, but if you look at the Marvel saga and series, this movie is the culmination of 10 years of individualistic (character) stories that end up getting woven together as one. They touted this as the largest ensemble ever for a box office movie. The star power is second to none [and] the cheers were spread among everyone. The box office numbers show that, and from a brand campaign standpoint, we started in early April and will continue for the next couple of weeks. We’re pleased and excited with the reaction so far.

Quicken had been associated with one movie franchise before, Star Trek. Was Avengers: Infinity War a risk?

When you’re a brand and decide to partner with another brand there is always a bit of a mitigated risk about whether the public and consumer will be willing to accept two brands working together. In the world of social media, with the click of a button or flick of a finger, sentiment certainly lends itself to that [concern].

How do you feel about the brand’s placement in the movie itself as you look back now?

We’re very pleased. We put as much time and creative effort and discussion into a three-second clip of a two-hour, forty-minute movie than in our entire campaign.  We developed 20 to 25 placement concepts and that was whittled down in partnership with the studio and the filmakers to make sure both brands are represented fairly and the product placement is organically integrated into the storyline. I’m absolutely excited that our placement wasn’t just a static billboard that happened to be in a drive-by scene. Our scene is the only one that took place on earth. And Spiderman interacting with our brand is priceless.

How are you optimizing your successful gamble?

We started rolling out right as the movie premiered and have continued. The movie is on the big screen, and we’ll maintain our broadcast [ads], then we’ll do extensions and amplifications on smaller screens. For the first time, for instance, we’re working with Pinterest doing promoted pins and posts which are promoted very well.

Rocket Mortgage / Avengers: Infinity War / Imgur campaign

Our program with Imgur is blowing me away; I equate its impact to Reddit. We’re doing behind-the-scenes of how our campaign came to life. We have tons of reach and positive social commentary there. And with Snapchat, 180 million people use their cameras, and we’ve been doing custom filters—and my friends have been sending me pictures right and left. We’ve gotten more than 150 million impressions  running on Snapchat with that program.

How will your success with this movie franchise affect where you take the Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage brands going forward?

We’re going to continue to seek co-branded opportunities where we can borrow each other’s brand equity. In the movie business, lead time on these is at least 18 months out, generally. We will continue to seek opportunities. But as a brand we want to be careful in that we don’t fatigue our consumers or clients or public with doing too many co-branded partnerships. The right brand or partner at the right time would be part of our tactics moving forward, especially with Rocket Mortgage.


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