Rocket Mortgage encourages easy mortgages, financial crisis


Adam Cecil

Adam Cecil

Former Staff Writer

Adam Cecil is a former staff writer for Policygenius, a digital insurance brokerage trying to make sense of insurance for consumers. He is a podcast producer, writer, and video maker based in Brooklyn, NY.

Published February 8, 2016|2 min read

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"Here’s what we were thinking," Rocket Mortgage’s Super Bowl ad starts, but it doesn’t seem like they did much thinking at all. In case you missed it: Mortgage, an app created by Quicken Loans, aims to make the the mortgage application process easier — though they never really explain how.From watching the commercial, however, you’d think that they’re actually advertising a huge housing bubble. You know, like the one that collapsed right before the subprime mortgage crisis? The housing bubble was partially caused by — you guessed it! — easy to get mortgages. When people couldn’t pay back those mortgages (you know, because they never should’ve received them in the first place), it set into motion a huge recession which you can learn more about in The Big Short (or over at the BBC).

Anyway, this wasn’t lost on the viewing public:

Rocket Mortgage: Let’s do the financial crisis again, but with apps!

-- daveweigel (@daveweigel) February 8, 2016

If you asked bankers who worked in fixed income at the time to explain 2008-era logic re: MBS,they could have just shown Rocket Mortgage ad

-- Elizabeth Spiers (@espiers) February 8, 2016

Several people made the connection to The Big Short:

That was such an interesting ad for The Big Short. Oops, I mean Rocket Mortgage. #SB50

-- Rachel Dodes Wortman (@racheld) February 8, 2016

why did that Rocket Mortgage ad feel like a trailer for "The Big Short 2"

-- Walter Hickey (@WaltHickey) February 8, 2016

Meanwhile, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (aka the U.S. Government) subtweeted Rocket Mortgage so hard:

When it comes to #mortgages, take your time, ask questions and #knowbeforeyouowe.

-- (@CFPB) February 8, 2016

Here’s the real tragedy: Rocket Mortgage is not an inherently bad idea! They just made possibly the worst commercial to communicate what their app actually does. As the Wall Street Journal points out, Rocket Mortgage doesn’t deal with subprime mortgages at all. In fact, it doesn’t bring anything radically new to the actual mortgage product itself. Instead, they just make it easier to input your personal information.Quicken conducted market research that suggests many potential homebuyers are turned off by the process of getting a mortgage. But the ad doesn’t really suggest that. Instead, the ad looks like it’s telling everyone in America that they need to get a mortgage right now in order to save our economy. They might as well have had Trump at the end saying that Rocket Mortgage would make America great again.So if you’re a potential homebuyer turned off by paperwork and the sometimes invasive mortgage application process, maybe give Rocket Mortgage a chance. For everyone else: continue renting. And for the marketing executives over at Quicken Loans? Maybe go watch The Big Short.

Just bought 17 houses in 20 seconds using Rocket Mortgage, this app is great.

-- Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) February 8, 2016