02/09/2016 Molly Moseley

Quicken can save the economy? Super Bowl ad fuels debate

Now that it’s been a few days since Sunday night’s big game, the dust has settled and there’s some time to reflect. No, I’m not talking about playbook analysis; rather, it’s the commercials that everyone is buzzing about. When a 30-second spot costs upwards of $5 million, we expect to see the best of the best.

While some ads were clever and entertaining (Hello, wiener dog stampede!), others seemed to fall flat. Some even sparked outrage. The most controversial ad on social media was the Quicken Loans commercial. Folks are up in arms saying the commercial encourages lavish commercialism and promotes the type of mortgage lending that led to the last big recession.

The ad starts: “Here’s what we were thinking: What if we did for mortgages what the internet did for buying music, and plane tickets and shoes?” The spot goes on to address the ease of getting a mortgage completely online — on your phone in fact. People, of course, would be buying homes left and right. Then they would inevitably fill those home with things, thus necessitating higher levels of employment because more jobs would be needed to create those things.

Basically, the snowball effect would cause a “tidal wave of ownership which floods the country with new owners who now must own other things.” Click here to view it in its entirety.

As a job search engine, everyone at LinkUp is in total support of creating jobs, so this one definitely caught our interest. Although it paints a pretty picture, not all jobs are created equal, some are more sustainable than others. Some argue that spending at the commercial’s proposed level is very excessive, and potentially problematic.

And what about the people who are just now finally recovering from the many hardships of the recession? This commercial could be an unpleasant reminder for those who were perhaps laid off, just had a baby and then faced a home foreclosure in 2008.

Viewers who caught the ad immediately took to Twitter to voice their concern about how it could encourage the type of haphazard lending that should be avoided. Even the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau tweeted, “When it comes to #mortgages, take your time, ask questions and #knowbeforeyouowe.”

So, what was Quicken’s response? “We just saw that the current mortgage process was slow and confusing. So we fixed it.” Totally valid point. Anyone who’s applied for a mortgage in the last few years can tell you it’s a lengthy process, full of red tape and paperwork. Quicken further clarified by tweeting, “RocketMortgage is here to help individuals w/ the right qualifications get in on current low rates.”

I would argue they have done an excellent job of responding to the criticism. They have addressed it head on and embraced the conversation.

Ultimately, the commercial got people talking. If you agree with 19th-century public relations guru Phineas T. Barnum, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and Quicken is surely on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

I’m left wondering, was Quicken’s main message lost in a storyline that seemed too focused on indulgent consumer spending? A scenario to which some who fared poorly in the last great recession are still sensitive? Or is this idea the answer to the mortgage woes of so many people looking for a solution?

What do you think? Tell me in the comments!

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