Financial Services Super Bowl ads generate buzz with mixed reviews

February 8, 2016
3 min read

The internet is buzzing after Super Bowl 50 last night. From the impressive half-time show, to Peyton Manning’s rumored retirement, and even the game itself, there’s a lot to digest! But the commercials are what I’m most excited to talk about, especially the financial brands.

Perhaps the most controversial ad from yesterday’s Big Game is Quicken Loan’s Rocket Mortgage. If you’re a fan of the Serial podcast like me, you’ll instantly recognize the smooth voice over in the ad as Sarah Koenig’s. Unfortunately, her calming voice did not help calm the nerves of many critics who are attacking the ad for encouraging a sequel to the sub-prime mortgage crisis. One Tweet summed it up as “Rocket Mortgage: explaining the 2008 financial crisis in one commercial.” I can understand how some people might make this connection, but my personal take on it was the alarming amount of time everyone was staring down at their phones throughout the entire spot.

SunTrust’s “Hold Your Breath” Super Bowl ad might be one of my favorites, especially because it aligns with one of Comperemedia’s 2016 Marketing Trends for Financial Services, Watch Out for Me. Tackling what is a rather universal and common feeling, SunTrust takes aim at financial stress and positions itself as a brand that can help you “catch your breath.” SunTrust is using this campaign as an invitation to join the onUp movement which aims to help millions of Americans relieve their financial stress and move towards financial freedom. As of today, more than 48,000 people have joined the movement.

PayPal’s inaugural Super Bowl ad is getting a lot of attention, both because of Demi Lovato’s catchy “Confident” song playing in the background, and for PayPal’s re-imagining of the phrase “new money” as we enter into a cashless society. There was also a lot of excitement around #NewMoneySweepstakes. Hosted by Erin Andrews, this social media-driven sweepstakes took place throughout the game with trivia questions posted to Twitter. People were told to tweet back the answers for the chance to win $500 at the end of the game.

And finally, there’s SoFi, also a Super Bowl first timer. The brand lead with two ads: one which attacked brick-and-mortar banks; and the other an ad for its online loans, distinguishing between those who are “great” and those who are “not great.” The second spot generated mixed opinions on social media. Interestingly, however, SoFi made a game-time decision to remove the final line from the original version of its “great/not great” ad after receiving negative feedback prior to airing. Instead of ending with “find out if you’re great at; you’re probably not,” SoFi removed the last phrase, “you’re probably not,” opting to end the ad a little more open to interpretation.

Lily Harder is the Vice President of Research for Mintel Comperemedia. Lily specializes in the financial services industry, researching and presenting on the latest industry trends, competitive intelligence insights and newsworthy developments.

Lily Harder
Lily Harder

Lily Harder is Vice President of Research, Mintel Comperemedia. She specializes in financial services, researching industry trends and competitive intelligence insights.

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