Just as many people watch the Super Bowl for the ads as they do for the football. But this year, more than a few of the commercials left viewers scratching their heads and asking “Why?”
This is especially true for Quicken Loans, the mortgage lender company whose minute-long Super Bowl 50 commercial stirred quite a bit of controversy on the Twitter-sphere.
The commercial advertised Quicken Loans’ new “Rocket Mortgage” service, an app-based service that supposedly makes it both easy and fast for buyers to get a mortgage loan. In the commercial, the voiceover tells of a world where buying a home can be as simple as buying a pair of shoes online and can take as little as ten minutes — or even less.
“What if we did for mortgages what the Internet did for buying music and plane tickets and shoes?” the voiceover’s casual, undoubtedly Millennial-directed voice muses. “You would turn an intimidating process into an easy one. You could get a mortgage on your phone. And if it could be that easy, wouldn’t more people buy homes?”
And while the premise does sound appealing in an idealistic way, anyone who lived through the housing crisis of 2008 finds the logic of the Quicken Loans ad to be troubling and downright dangerous.
In fact, immediately after the advertisement aired, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau took to Twitter in order to warn consumers that diving into a “right-minute mortgage” might not be the best idea.
Launched in December, the Quicken Loans “Rocket Mortgage” promises potential home buyers that they can qualify for a mortgage online in under 10 minutes. Unlike FHA 203K loans offered by the Federal Housing Administration that offer 3.5% down payments, the service cuts out the middle and instantaneously analyzes your financial and credit history, determining your loan eligibility on the spot.
Ultimately, critics of the Quicken Loans “Rocket Mortgage” service seem to be criticizing the tone-deaf nature of their campaign.
However, it’s important to note that Quicken’s program doesn’t actually speed up the house-buying process itself. It simply condenses it by letting potential borrowers skip initial paperwork, instead authorizing Quicken Loans to communicate with their financial institutions directly.
And Quicken is by no means offering mortgages to those who don’t qualify for them.
“These are qualified mortgages, fully underwritten loans. Nothing that we’re doing is shifting or changing that,” says Quicken Loans CEO Bill Emerson. “The reality is, we’re doing nothing but safe lending.”