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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  • IT WAS A GREAT RUN……………..
    by the way that lousy looking room was a suite in the new york plaza athena hotel that was and is RJ’s favorite place to stay when he visits
    the reason the old Guardian footage was used in the urban campaign was simply because it pulled in the lowest cost per call due to the fact that millions of dollars were spent developing that brand. but hey what do i know…
    lets let wagners legacy end on a high note….

    • Jason,

      And, yeah, some rooms of the most beautiful homes used in movies had to be modified because they did not film well either.  We are talking about how well a small portion of a great suite in a fabulous NYC hotel showed on TV.  What showed of that room could have been a portion of a new but poorly decorated room at a Holiday Express in the heart of Homestead, Florida.  In that regard the production did not do justice to the location. 

      How well the room showed is no strike against you but is one against the director of photography and to some degree the editors.

      I have a lot of respect for what Senior Lending Network (“SLN”) did.  As to Guardian, it did some very smart things but was not nearly as innovative or ground breaking as SLN.  But again few of us have come anywhere close to what even Guardian achieved.

  • The ads with celebrities have grown very stale.  Time to come up with something more creative since the baby boomers are moving into the market.

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