FAR Launches New Testimonial Ad Campaign, Including TV Spot

Finance of America Reverse (FAR) has announced the launch of a new advertising campaign, which includes the creation of a dedicated commercial to air on television after the company has been deliberating how best to enter the current TV advertising landscape. After being initially conceived as an internal motivational video for FAR employees, the company has adapted the material for a new consumer campaign making necessary adjustments to fit its new purpose.

The new campaign and TV spot, titled “Letters,” collects a series of testimonials from FAR customers about its HomeSafe proprietary reverse mortgage product suite, aiming to highlight the benefits that the company’s private products may be able to offer over a more traditional Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM).

Testimonials, and consumer-facing transition

The testimonials used in the campaign were originally produced as part of a short film to be exhibited for FAR employees, to give them an idea of how their work has the ability to impact peoples’ lives. Transitioning from something internally-facing to a consumer-facing campaign required the material to be reworked slightly, but the material itself justified the transition according to Ashley Smith, FAR’s head of marketing.

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“The goals for an internal employee audience and a public-facing campaign are indeed different,” Smith tells RMD. “That is why the core ‘Letters’ film has a different feel than our TV spot and its companion ads in digital and direct mail. We knew we had something special on our hands in the production phase when we got to know each borrower.”

“Letters,” the short film acting as a cornerstone of the new campaign from FAR.

The new campaign as led by the “Letters” short film features five separate testimonials, where HomeSafe customers explain how the issues they had were alleviated by their employment of the HomeSafe loan. One borrower related being affected by wildfires near Montecito, Calif., while another borrower described needing to remain home to care for a spouse with a debilitating medical condition.

As FAR’s last major marketing campaign, “The Venice Sessions” aimed to disrupt reverse mortgage borrower stereotypes, Smith related that the stories of borrowers in the new campaign have the potential to change the way people may perceive a reverse mortgage lender.

“This led my team to completely reimagine the shoot footage after debuting the piece to employees,” she explains. “The result is an extension of the core film into a campaign we call MeetFAR which walks the audience through meeting the borrowers, meeting HomeSafe, and meeting our company.”

The creative assets include a short film, individual profiles, portraiture photography and blog posts that will be distributed as a television spot, ads on YouTube, social media posts and other digital platforms, the company explained.

Goals of the new campaign, state of the proprietary market

While the campaign was primarily designed with the proprietary product suite in mind, there could be some potential benefits to FAR’s HECM business as well, Smith says.

“This campaign does some heavy lifting on multiple strategic goals,” she explains. “It is designed to introduce HomeSafe to more people across the country while at the same time building brand equity by highlighting FAR as a trusted partner and genuinely relational company invested in the long-term wellbeing of our customers. Both the presented benefits and positioning will be attractive to HECM borrowers as well, and we expect a ripple effect for HECM.”

In light of recent Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that detailed the size of the proprietary reverse mortgage market in 2019 as roughly 9.7% of the total reverse mortgage market, FAR is nonetheless committed to communicating the benefits of the HomeSafe product suite in comparison with the HECM offering, Smith says.

“The campaign is one more reason to believe in FAR’s optimism about proprietary products and our commitment to growing a sustainable market for them,” Smith says. “HomeSafe meets a need that isn’t addressed by the HECM, and we will continue driving market penetration through product innovation as well as strategic marketing that opens people’s eyes.”

Transition to TV, being aware of impacts

In terms of calculating the approach that it could take to TV advertising, FAR’s marketing department has been aiming to determine an appropriate approach for some time, Smith says. When asked about where and when the TV spot would be appearing, Smith declined to offer specifics instead saying that the company’s approach will be different than what has been typically seen among FAR’s competitors.

“The team has been testing the TV waters for nearly a year now,” Smith says. “Though TV is considered a powerful general awareness channel, the strategy with MeetFAR is highly targeted, and our targeting is audience-based rather than programming-based. We will likely explore other tactics within TV next year and intend to expand our TV efforts in 2021.”

A guiding principle at FAR for this new campaign is highlighting the differences the company feels they can make in customers’ lives, Smith says. It’s something that she hopes the reverse mortgage industry at-large is aware of, as well.

“If I were to address the reverse industry I’d say this: we can never lose sight of the humanity in what we do,” she says. “Spending time with Joe, Rick, Ann, Dennie & Hassan, and Dave & his wife in their homes, I had the benefit of seeing how everyone involved in the mortgage process—from sales, to operations, to servicing—affected the trajectory of these human lives. It’s not just a loan. We’re making a difference.”

The campaign also hopes to further accomplish the ongoing goal of reforming the perceptions of the reverse mortgage product category, particularly in light of major changes the business has undergone over the past several years. This is according to Kristen Sieffert, president of FAR.

“One of our top priorities at FAR is improving the customer experience and educating the market about how reverse mortgages have evolved. The introduction of new proprietary products has provided more options for retirees to create stability in retirement,” Sieffert said in the announcement of the new campaign. “These testimonials shine a light on just how much progress we’ve made as a company and an industry to change perceptions and demonstrate the value that reverse mortgages can bring to people as they plan for and live their retirements.”

FAR has created a designated web portal to highlight the stories of individual borrowers from the new campaign and “The Venice Sessions,” and the “Letters” campaign has been rolled out across its digital platforms as of September 28. The TV spot will be airing beginning on Monday, October 5.

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  • The speaking in the commercial is so good, it seems like the individuals are actors even though that may not be the case. The letters are well written and thoughtful, great choices.

    This campaign exposes one weakness in this industry. These are not seasoned and experienced borrowers but new borrowers as to FAR’s proprietary products. Their reactions are simply seniors who are in the initial stage of their reverse mortgage experience. That experience can start great and end great. Others may start out great but end in regret when 1) the borrowers are deceased, 2) certain expectations were not achieved, 3) what was originally seen as a financial need may not end up so or 4) any number of other results that are not perceived as successful. Then there are experiences that do not meet expectations at the start and rarely turn around over time.

    There is a reason, no one has a series of ads based on the testimonies of heirs or long-time borrowers. It will be interesting to hear the cost effectiveness of this campaign especially starting in an expensive election season as to TV ads.

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