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A history of broker ads

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Reporter 6 minute read

If you ask the average person to name the major banks, chances are they’d be able to tell you at least four. But ask them to name the major brokerages, and chances are they’d struggle. But some brands have tried to bridge the divide and cement themselves in popular psyche through extensive advertising. Here, we take a look at some of the most iconic broker TV adverts.

With television programmes often commanding millions of viewers, advertising on this medium is an attractive proposition for businesses looking to promote their brand and teach the audience about a company’s unique selling points. And, for an industry such as mortgage broking, it’s an effective means of explaining what an out-of-sight industry really does.

Australia’s mortgage broking industry really only took off in the early 1990s, and arguably, the first advert that really put mortgage broking in the limelight was Aussie’s 1995 advert, featuring the founder of Aussie Home Loans John Symond, or ‘Aussie John’.

It was a simple advert; only 30 seconds long and with no gimmicks, distractions, or fancy graphics, just Aussie John talking directly to the viewer in front of the Australian flag. The concept is simple: challenge the viewer to “give it a go”, ring their bank and “demand a better deal” on their home loan, and if they “don’t come to the party”, ring Aussie Home Loans. The advert is neatly signed off with the catchphrase: “At Aussie, We’ll Save You”. The impact of this frugal advert was immense, immediately making the brand a household name, ingraining the catchphrase in the population’s psyche and turning Aussie John a trusted figurehead. Even the way the advert was shot sent a message; the lack of showmanship intimated that the brand was straight-talking, transparent, and genuine.

Taking a very different tack during the mid-1990s was RAMS Home Loans (which no longer uses the broker channel). Showcasing examples of people who “didn’t have the usual paper work” or didn’t have a deposit, the advert introduced the now-well established ‘Rambassador’ Raymond A Ram. The advert differed from Aussie in that it explained that brokers could come to you and help sort through the paperwork of more complex home loans, rather than focusing on getting a better deal. It was also one of the first to use technology, through its employment of an animatronic talking ram (which has since gone through several manifestations, thanks to progress in computer graphics).

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Taking a more tongue-in-cheek approach to broking during the ‘90s was Wizard Home Loans’ adverts which focused on the heroic and attractive nature of what brokers could offer, by showing women ringing in to get Mark Bouris to come and visit them to get a home loan. In the early noughties, the brand got tongues a wagging yet again, with their infamous ‘Spank the Beast’ advertising campaign, which caused so many complaints it had to be edited. The advert featured a man being followed by a grotesque looking beast, representing an ‘out of control mortgage’, who is eventually taken to Wizard Home Loans. It’s here that a suited man, presumably a broker, takes the beast over his knee and repeatedly spanks it. Although the advert had to be edited following complaints, it delivered its aim; reportedly resulting in a 100 per cent increasing in new leads following its airing.

More recent adverts that highlight what a broker can offer customers have been less dramatic, and some would argue — less creative. Instead of bringing into focus the authoritarian nature of a broker, they instead highlight the more positive aspect of using a broker.

Mortgage Choice honed in on the feeling that working with experienced brokers can have on customers for its TV campaigns in the early teenies, with its ‘Know the feeling’ and ‘Happy As’ campaigns running in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Both campaigns were lighthearted TV adverts that were designed to grab the attention of the viewer and make them smile. For example, the ‘Know the feeling’ adverts saw Mortgage Choice customers talk about how it felt to get a ‘great home loan’, and they burst into dance before answering. The advert then invited others to ‘know the feeling’ and call Mortgage Choice. Likewise, the ‘Happy As’ adverts the following year focused on how happy Mortgage Choice could make their customers (happy as a pig in mud; happy as Larry; happy as a kid in a candy store etc.). For example, one advert featured a piglet playing in puddle of mud, while a voiceover highlighted that the company pays brokers the same right for all loans, and comes at no cost to the customer. Melissa McCarney, GM of marketing at Mortgage Choice said that the campaigns “sought to bring to life what we had learned from our customers over the past 20 years – that is: there is no emotional benefit in having a home loan, but there is emotional relief in knowing you have the right home loan”. However, Ms McCarney added that the company’s latest campaign, ‘Better Choices for a Better Life’, won’t feature on TV – instead focusing on radio, social media and digital channels.

Indeed, currently, there seem to few adverts on television highlighting what a broker can offer customers. One exception would be the return of major mortgage player, Aussie, which has salvaged its iconic brand line ‘We’ll Save You’ and committed more than $25 million to an 18-month advertising campaign, including TV advertising.

Richard Burns, general manager, customer, at Aussie said that the tagline had been brought back as it was “still very closely associated with Aussie” and resonated with customers.

 The most recent advert sees Aussie ‘saving’ a family looking for a home loan and offset account so that they can go on holiday to Fiji. A man, who is identified as ‘Aussie’, walks through a room full of bankers who are all raising their hands to service the customers. By asking who can get the loan approved by the end of the week, and negating options that he thinks can’t deliver, he whittles the raised hands down to one. The advert ends: ‘Get the right home loan, by getting Aussie on your side.’ According to Mr Burns, the phrase was coined by customers responding to research on what they looked for in a broker, and several respondents said they wanted “someone on their side”.

 Upcoming ads will focus on refinancing customers and investors too. But, unlike the John Symond adverts of the past, the person playing Aussie will change. Mr Burns explained: “Of the two more ads we have coming out, the man who played Aussie in the last advert will be in one, but he's not the new Aussie John. It's almost mission impossible to replace someone like John. He is so unique and iconic and has done an amazing job, so we deliberately didn’t want to do that. That's why we're using different people to play different brokers in our advertising, to help people realise that what John has created is much bigger than a single person.”

 According to Mr Burns, the second advert will feature a female representative “because many of [Aussie’s] brokers are women, and increasingly, many of [Aussie’s] customers are women”.

You’ll be hard pressed to find an advert currently running on TV that actually features real brokers, but special mention should go to Aussie’s heart-warming online videos ‘Little Aussie Stories’, which do feature real brokers and real customer experiences. One memorable story is of David Kelly, an Aussie broker and pilot based in Mackay, Queensland, who actually flies his personal airplane to reach his clients across a large rural area of Queensland, a seeming necessity when the area he services spans several hundred kilometres.

It’s stories like these that really highlight how brokers will go above and beyond for their clients, and show that for some brokers, the sky isn’t the limit. Here’s hoping that more advertising will showcase what brokers offer in real life, to ensure that the proportion of home loans coming through the third-party channel increases year on year.

A history of broker ads
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