Urban Halts Wagner Reverse Mortgage Ads, Hires Noble to Lead Marketing

Urban Financial Group is saying goodbye to Robert Wagner as its reverse mortgage spokesman, and has hired Jean Noble as its new head of marketing to take the reins on a change in advertising strategy for the No. 1 largest lender in the business by volume.

A new media campaign will launch in early 2013 under Noble’s direction. Previously she has operated her own consulting company including work with MetLife Home Loans, Guardian First Funding, and ran marketing for the Senior Lending Network.

The company says it’s moving away from Wagner to meet changing consumer attitudes and has plans to launch new online marketing initiatives, which are already under way.

“We are reevaluating,” said Steve McClellan, Urban Financial president CEO. “We think the product has gone from being less mainstream to something that is increasingly seen as a financial planning tool that is much more credible. We are refreshing our imaging and messaging to consumers that have changed their tastes and response to different media types.”

Whether there is another spokesman in the future for Urban is an unknown, but McClellan says it is a possibility with the company remaining committed to TV advertising in the future. Some media space has already been purchased for 2013. The upcoming presidential election as well as the Olympic Games that will comprise much of the media market this fall made for a good time to step away from TV temporarily.

“Today with the model of the paid spokesman, it is a crowded playing field,” he says. “There isn’t a lot of differentiation. Sometimes you have to stop and think: Who is the brand? We’re very grateful to what Robert Wagner did for us and we definitely enjoyed a good relationship with him.”

The future of Urban’s advertising initiatives will span radio and current online efforts as well as future growth in those channels.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with this great group toward reinventing the ad campaign,” Noble says. “Today’s borrower is a lot younger. In the past it was much more one-size-fits-all but in using the Web we can be more specific.”

The Wagner campaign has been with Urban since the company acquired Guardian First Funding in 2011, and has gone through several changes since including the launch of several new TV commercials, one featuring Wagner’s daughter, Katie.

Wagner’s tenure in the reverse mortgage space runs alongside ad campaigns featuring former Senator Fred Thompson for American Advisors Group, Henry Winkler for One Reverse Mortgage and most recently, Wayne Rogers for Senior Home Loans.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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