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How Quicken Loans' New CMO Moved from Fiat to Home Finance

By Published on .

Mortgage marketing can be tricky -- Quicken Loans learned that last year when the Detroit company was hit with social backlash for over-simplifying the loan process in its first Super Bowl ad, earning comparisons to the subprime lending crisis of 2008. It's something that weighs heavy on the mind of Casey Hurbis, Quicken's new chief marketing officer.

Hurbis returned to his Detroit hometown in April after six years with Fiat, where he led the auto brand's North American brand communications and advertising. Former Quicken CMO Jay Farner was promoted to CEO in February and Hurbis is now tasked with spearheading the company's new confidence campaign to promote its Rocket Mortgage online product, which rolls out Monday.

"I don't care if we're selling mortgages or cars -- when you're making your first- or second-biggest purchase decision in your life, there's always scrutiny and hesitancy," Hurbis said, noting that Quicken has a robust social response team to interact closely with clients.

In the new campaign, which starts with three 30-second spots, Quicken spotlights consumers who might be good at regular life activities, (like guitar shredding and robot-building), and professions, but not mortgages. The Rocket Mortgage product, which was first introduced in last year's Super Bowl, could help individuals "Mortgage confidently," the messaging says. Though Hurbris came on board after the creative idea was first introduced, he guided the process through production, working with Los Angeles-based Pitch and his own 75-person in-house team. The new work, which includes shorter videos custom-made for video and social, replaces the "Blast Off" campaign, which has run for more than a year and was retired last week.

"In a very competitive but cluttered media environment, you have to be clever," he said. "It's okay to deploy an air of confidence, but say it with a smile, and tongue-and-cheek—at the end of the day, people want to be entertained."

Of course, while car marketers can rely on brand identity to help promote product, mortgage providers are not image-driven.

"That's going to be a challenge—you can't really sell a mortgage service like a car," said Larry Chiagouris, a marketing professor at Pace University's Lubin School of Business. "No one goes around letting people know who their mortgage company is."

Hurbis declined to say how much the brand is spending on the new effort. Quicken spent $328.9 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article erroneously referred to Quicken Loans' new online product as Rocket Loan. Its name is Rocket Mortgage.

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