And while not quite "overnight," the unit's direct-response TV advertising has generated more than $200 million in revenue after just one year.
The TV spots downplay interest rates, instead emphasizing the emotional benefits of borrowing from Advanta. Before 1998, Advanta's direct marketing strategy relied on mail efforts alone.
The current strategy is the product of in-house agency Advanta Advertising, set up last year by Anil Singh.
"Advanta's strategy is to build the business and sales first," said Mr. Singh, president of the agency. "Then we can deal with the branding strategy."
Mr. Singh said his background in consumer marketing at Time Inc. taught him the value of research and testing, which he now applies to the mortgage lending industry.
Advanta was repositioned as a stable bank with the flexibility and understanding of a mortgage lender. Sports commentator Dan Dierdorf appears in a series of 30- and 60-second spots called "On the Road With Dan," in which he's seen as a "regular guy" in small-town settings discussing Advanta with townspeople.
Mr. Singh's strategy also relies on "pre-emptable" media buys--purchasing for low rates large quantities of airtime that Advanta gives up if another, higher-paying advertiser comes along.
"It gives us a lower cost per acquisition," Mr. Singh said. He noted cost per acquisition is roughly 40% to 50% cheaper than what his competitors pay with