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Opinion, commentary and analysis on everything that makes the U.S. housing economy tick -- not to mention the ghosts in the machine, too. Written by HW's team of editors and reporters each business day.
Lending

SoFi bets big on the Super Bowl to win borrowers

Uses 20% of annual budget on the big game

February 5, 2016

SoFi has shattered the typical lending model ever since it broke into the mortgage world two years ago, so its big move in this year’s Super Bowl 50 only make sense. They are one of three in the mortgage finance space buying spots during game day.

But will the big bet pay off? Yes, and here's why.

An article in Quartz by Ashley Rodriguez on the fin-tech company started out saying:

Alternative lender Social Finance, also known as SoFi, proudly admits that it’s not for everyone. But it’s still hoping to reach the largest possible audience with its first big TV ad, which will break during Super Bowl 50.

The San Francisco-based alternative lending startup is splashing out 20% of its annual budget on the big game in the hopes of becoming a household name. The 30-second Super Bowl spot, which cost around $5 million, will air during the second quarter of the game on Feb. 7 on CBS. The spot is the major highlight of a broader $20 million ad campaign introducing SoFi’s brand to the mass market.

On the financial side, the company isn’t struggling to bring in money or gain borrowers.

In January, SoFi announced it had officially surpassed more than $7 billion in funded loans, and in September, SoFi announced $1 billion in Series E funding led by SoftBank.

The ad even garnered attention from Adweek on its big, and even risky to some, move in advertising during the Super Bowl.

Kristina Monllos wrote in Adweek:

Part of a larger introductory campaign from creative shop Muh-tay-zik Hof-fer, one 30-second ad will appear during the game, with another running shortly before kickoff. The in-game spot looks to give consumers a taste of what exactly SoFi is and how it is different from traditional banking.

 The humorous approach seeks to explain the company's unique business model in a lighthearted way. 

"Not everyone qualifies for our products, so we didn't want to say, 'Hey everyone come in here and get a loan,'" said Joanne Bradford, chief operating officer of SoFi. 

This major marketing move from SoFi has been a long time in the making. Back in August, SoFi announced it hired Bradford as the company’s new chief operating officer.

Bradford was hired to help the company invest heavily in its member success programs that provide a lifetime of valuable support and community, scale its partnerships with leading employers and member organizations and accelerate its marketing investment to extend reach and deepen engagement with members.

“Like internet advertising, there is a huge first mover advantage in fintech,” Bradford said when she was hired.  “SoFi is on the forefront of modern money, leading the way. I can’t imagine a better place to be.”

Now about six months later, she’s definitely making waves in the advertising world for SoFi.

Here are both advertisements from SoFi. The first one will be played during the Super Bowl.  

The YouTube video description says, “We see greatness differently. It’s not based on what shoes you wear or if you’ve got a rad haircut. To us, greatness means you have a career. It means you’re saving for the future, even if you’re not sure what it holds. We partner with people, like Brandon, who see greatness the same way we do. Then we give them great loans and awesome benefits match.”

According to the video’s YouTube description, “Banks were a giant made by men. They were too big to fail. And too big to succeed. SoFi behaves in ways banks can’t and provides products and services they’re not nimble enough to offer.”

So the marketing move is bound for success considering that banks are leaving huge opening in the home lending space.

SoFi’s Twitter account echoes this new push. 

But SoFi is not the only lender making a play in the Super Bowl. In its first-ever Super Bowl commercial, Detroit-based Quicken Loans created a 60-second TV spot, which showcases Rocket Mortgage, its fully online mortgage.

“There’s no better place to communicate how Rocket Mortgage will help Americans reach their homeownership goals, and in turn impact the entire economy, than during America’s favorite game,” said Jay Farner, president and chief marketing officer for Quicken Loans.

Guaranteed Rate also secured a few ads in this year’s Super Bowl. The ads will star home improvement celebrity, Ty Pennington and promote the company's new digital mortgage.

Guaranteed Rate said the commercial will air regionally in four markets: Chicago, Boston, Tampa, and Salt Lake City. 

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