EQ Bank addresses retirement anxieties with a talking house

Who: Equitable Bank, with The Hive for creative and strategy; Feels Like Home for production (directed by Ryan Ebner) and Epitaph for media.

What: A playful film about Equitable Bank’s reverse mortgage loans, featuring an anthropomorphized house.

When & Where: 60-, -30, and 15-second versions of the film are live now, across traditional television, DRTV, OLV, and social media.

Why: “The strategy behind the work is rooted in research that showed many homeowners are worried about being retirement poor with increased feelings of uncertainty and loss of control of their autonomy, ” said The Hive’s CSO Dustin Rideout in a press release. “This insight brought forth the idea that a reverse mortgage from Equitable Bank can help them feel house rich instead.”

The Hive and EQ Bank wanted to connect older Canadians with financial solutions in a way that catches their attention, but is also empathetic to their anxieties about retirement.

Much of the advertising targeting this demographic is “sterile,” said EQ Bank’s VP of marketing, Caleb Rubin. “We wanted to go in the opposite direction and address their very real fears in a supportive and relatable yet humorous way.”

How: The 60-second film features two characters—an older woman named Frances who has taken out a reverse mortgage on her home, and her talking home, which has human emotions and a stereotypical mid-Atlantic accent reminiscent of TV shows like Frasier.

Since the reverse mortgage has unlocked the house’s equity, the home feels rich (hence the posh voice) and grateful, which appears to have made their bond closer. “We needed to be clear that this house played into the snobby, rich person archetype,” said The Hive’s co-executive creative director, Sacha Ouimet. “But he isn’t really rich, he just thinks he is, which makes him kinda relatable and charming.”

The spot ends with an embrace between Frances and her house that results in sprinkler tears, and a message that reminds viewers to call EQ Bank to “get the best reverse mortgage rates.”

What inspiration went into the creative: “It might sound funny, but how dry and drab advertising often is to older audiences,” said Rideout. “Part of being empathetic is treating [the demographic] like any other human who appreciates a good laugh, cry or otherwise.”

Emma Johnston-Wheeler