HomeEquity shows what to love about staying home

The financial company's emotional approach to reverse mortgages gets new relevance for seniors during COVID-19.
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The prevailing message to Canadians during COVID-19 has been to stay at home – and as the outbreak hits long-term care facilities particularly hard, Canada’s seniors may be even less inclined to move out of their own homes.

A new campaign from HomeEquity Bank continues to show that its reverse mortgage can help Canadians stay in their homes for longer, though shifts to a more heartwarming tone to embrace all the things that make doing so enriching.

“Reverse mortgages are about helping people live in their home a little bit longer than they ordinarily might, and allow them to enjoy being there by giving them a little bit of extra cash flow,” says Steven Ranson, president and CEO of HomeEquity Bank. “We recognized that we’re all stuck at home these days. [The campaign] was a way to recognize what we’re all going through and tie that into the nature of our business and how we’re trying to help people year-round.”

The 30-second spot – produced by Zulu Alpha Kilo – doesn’t reference COVID-19 directly, but uses videos to show how our homes have “become our dance floor,” “our playground” and “our gym,” with people dancing, playing games and exercising in their homes.

“You see people actually enjoying being in their home. It’s the idea that, yeah, we’re home and it’s a sacrifice…but it’s also kind of fun and hopeful and shows that you don’t have to be cooped up and feeling miserable,” Ranson says. “Your home’s a great place to be. Your home is everything.”

HomeEquity Bank’s CHIP Reverse Mortgage is aimed at Canadian homeowners over 55 that allows them to access up to 55% of their home value, maintain ownership of their home without having to move or sell, and doesn’t require them to make regular mortgage payments.

The reverse mortgage is HomeEquity’s primary financial product which it supports via mass TV-heavy campaigns, with a recent rebranding aiming to focus more on the emotional benefits of letting retirees stay in their home for longer. While the new creative is more heartwarming and leans less on the humourous tone of its past campaigns, Ranson says the message behind it has resonance right now.

“This is how we know customers feel about their homes,” he says. ”The strategy was, as part of the branding, to showcase the fact that, whether it’s COVID-19 or not COVID-19, the product and our goal is around helping people enjoy being and living at home.”

The new television and radio commercials that make up this campaign accompany an ongoing HomeEquity Bank Initiative, “Operation Warm Hug.” HomeEquity employees have been calling customers to check in on them, when feelings of isolation they may have already been feeling might be exacerbated (the average age of a HomeEquity customer is 78). Ranson says HomeEquity employees have made in between 1,000 to 1,200 calls out of roughly 20,000 customers thus far.

As part of the campaign, HomeEquity Bank is also making a $50,000 donation to both the Canadian Red Cross and the YMCA of Greater Toronto. It will also make financial contributions to several charities throughout Canada that are important to its employees.

The campaign will appear on TV starting this week, and will be promoted on social media. A radio version of the campaign will likely begin airing next week, Ranson says.

The campaign comes as fear of a recession is raising concerns about Canadians’ personal finances. According to the latest wave of IMI’s COVID-19 research, 65% of Canadians are at least somewhat concerned about the state of their financial health over the next three months. It also comes as reporting continues to reveal that the most serious COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada have been centred on retirement and long-term care homes – of the nearly 3,000 deaths attributed to the pandemic, 79% have been in nursing homes.