American Advisors Group (AAG) announced on Monday the rollout of a new television commercial featuring spokesman Tom Selleck, crafted on the heels of a survey the company spearheaded in which respondents shared an overwhelming desire to age in place.
The ad, titled “American Dream,” emphasizes the desire that many seniors have to remain in their homes through their retirements, driving home the preferences of seniors. Those preferences were recently reinforced by a survey conducted by AAG, which communicated an overwhelming desire by seniors to remain in their homes for the full duration of retirement.
Prior to going into production on the latest commercial, AAG solicited the perspectives of American seniors in July to determine their preferences for aging in place. Conducting a survey of 250 respondents between the ages of 62 and 75, results indicated that over 82% of those respondents shared a desire to remain in their homes as they get older. This includes in situations where relocating or right-sizing would bring them into closer proximity to family members, according to the company.
The survey also came with another interesting finding about how a senior might choose to employ additional cash, according to an AAG spokesperson.
“When asked ‘If you can access your home equity with a reverse mortgage loan, what would you use it for?’ The top two results were that 38% answered for home renovations and 28% answered to eliminate a mortgage [payment],” an AAG spokesperson said. “These findings influenced us to formulate a theme around ‘safer at home’ or ‘home is where the health is,’ which led to the American Dream spot.”
While the survey results influenced the company’s messaging for this ad, the messaging was not dictated by the findings. Instead, it helped provide additional credence to some ideas that have been expressed by the reverse mortgage industry for some time, according to the company spokesperson.
“The results didn’t fully dictate messaging. Rather, they helped to verify the existing idea that more Americans were turning their homes into ‘sanctuaries’ during this time of COVID-19,” the spokesperson said. “We knew more people were spending more time at home, and were looking to view the importance of home modifications in relation to this unprecedented time.”
The new ad
Invoking patriotic imagery and stemming from the desire for seniors to remain in their homes, Selleck describes the “American Dream” and the idea of working hard to own your own home synonymously.
“That dream, owning a home, took hard work,” Selleck says in the new commercial. “A good job, bills, mortgage, keeping up with the kids. But […] it’s worth it. It’s where we want to be, and where we want to stay.”
Because the pandemic has created additional necessity for some older Americans to find additional sources of cash flow, making them aware of the ways in which a reverse mortgage’s proceeds can be used could be an important consideration, according to Selleck.
“For Americans, a house is more than just a home. It symbolizes their years of hard work, the family they’ve built, and the life they’ve lived,” Selleck said in an announcement of the new ad. “For many seniors, that home is now a lifeline, and AAG can help them make it comfortable.”
Also of note is that the new ad aims to make clear that a reverse mortgage is “not for everyone,” Selleck says in dialogue. This is paired with a clearly visible disclosure in the middle of the ad which says that a borrower may be open to foreclosure if they do not maintain the property, or keep up with paying property taxes and homeowner’s insurance.
How the pandemic changed TV production
The new ad was shot on location in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and included specific provisions governing the production to ensure the safety of both the key performer, Selleck, and the crew charged with capturing his performance on-set. This including keeping the production outdoors, and an evolution of on-set protocols which take COVID-19 risks into account helped the company to produce the new ad.
“A new part of the production team was a crew of five who was in charge solely on the crew’s health, safety and sanitation,” the AAG spokesperson said. “Social distancing was strictly implemented, which included: staggered call times instead of having one large crew call time for everyone, identifying pods where each department landed (separate from each other), issuing color-coded wristbands for each department and only having one department allowed on set for setup at a time.”
Shot over two days, the production team and Mr. Selleck were tested for each of them and on-set was a technician operating a disinfectant fogger, sanitizing all of the touch points and equipment on-site in-between takes.
Tailoring the messaging to the times
The fact that seniors and senior care facilities have been hit so hard by the pandemic increases the attractiveness of remaining in the home for many older Americans, according to AAG Chief Marketing Officer Martin Lenoir.
“This year has changed many aspects of our lives, including the way that we view retirement,” Lenoir said. “Older Americans are feeling safer at home, but many need additional resources, like the use of their growing home equity, to make needed renovations so they can live comfortably throughout retirement.”
The increasing prevalence for seniors to remain in their homes is also something which was emphasized in the survey results. According to respondents when asked about whether they would prefer to remain in their homes or move to some kind of an assisted living facility, 95% of respondents said they would prefer to remain home.
In spite of the pandemic affecting daily American life, AAG has used its marketing arm to maintain a line of messaging including through its employment of Tom Selleck as the company’s spokesman. In April, just over a month after the pandemic’s national emergency was declared by the federal government, AAG released a video featuring a voice-over message from Selleck recorded remotely at the actor’s home.
AAG is the number one reverse mortgage lender in the country according to Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) endorsement data compiled by Reverse Market Insight (RMI), having logged 13,999 endorsements in the 12-month period ending in September, 2020.