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Beer, cars and ... mortgages? Super Bowl ads go financial this year

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By Michaela Ross, Bloomberg News

Digital wallets and mortgage apps will vie with beer and cars for Super Bowl viewers as financial-services companies step up their advertising to cater to the changing preferences of millennials.

At least six financial brands have purchased airtime for Sunday's television spectacle that attracts more than 100 million viewers, aiming to establish a place among more mainstream institutions by promising easy and convenient ways to manage your money.

The Super Bowl featured just two financial-services ads last year and three in 2014.

Americans’ attitude about personal finance has undergone a shift since the global financial crisis of 2008, with more people — especially millennials — now favoring online platforms and digital wallets.

“The financial world is changing very quickly, and as a result the Super Bowl becomes a good platform to get ahead of the change,” said Tim Calkins, professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and creator of the school’s annual Super Bowl Advertising Review.

For the first time, PayPal Holdings, SunTrust Banks, Quicken Loans and Social Finance, also known as SoFi, have all bought ads during the Super Bowl, which will air on CBS.

A 30-second spot costs $5 million. TurboTax is returning for its third consecutive year, and its parent company, Intuit Inc., will make its second showing.

The theme is optimism. Consumer spending grew last year by the most since 2005, and purchases of new homes surged in December to the highest level in 10 months, closing out the best year for housing since 2007, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Intuit’s commercial features a small business that uses its QuickBooks accounting software. Death Wish Coffee, based in Round Lake, N.Y., won the ad spot after a nationwide contest that began last year.

Quicken Loans makes its Super Bowl premiere with a spot for its new product, Rocket Mortgage, which allows users to apply for a home loan online or via their mobile phone. The company said it will couple its ad, “What We Were Thinking,” with an online sweepstakes and social media push.

SunTrust said it hopes its first Super Bowl ad, “Hold Your Breath,” will start an ongoing nationwide movement promoting personal financial health. The campaign directs viewers to a website, onUp.com, for financial tips and tools.

TurboTax returns for its third consecutive Super Bowl appearance with a campaign demonstrating its online tax-filing software. A preview for its spot, “Someone Else,” features James Lipton, host of “Inside the Actors Studio,” being told he won’t star in a commercial for TurboTax.

San Jose, Calif.-based PayPal will take advantage of the game being hosted in nearby Santa Clara to air its first-ever Super Bowl ad. The company said its ad will showcase the future of money as the world shifts toward digital wallets and mobile money management.

SoFi began in 2011 as an online-lending platform for working professionals. It now hopes to showcase its financial products on a national stage. Its ad, “Great Loans for Great People,” will be its first Super Bowl spot.

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