If you were channel-surfing recently and caught a glimpse of the Fonz (a.k.a. Henry Winkler) on TV, chances are it wasn’t a rerun of Happy Days—it was a reverse mortgage commercial.
That’s right: In addition to acting and authoring children’ books, Winkler has added ‘spokesman’ to his resume. The product he’s endorsing is the reverse mortgage, which allows homeowners aged 62 and older to tap into the equity they’ve built up in their homes in the form of a loan that doesn’t come due until the borrower passes away or moves out.
Brands across many industries have celebrity spokesmen to endorse certain products, whether it’s to grab people’s attention, promote brand recognition, or seek credibility. So it’s no surprise that several companies in the reverse mortgage industry commission celebrities to help get their message out to people in their target market.
Interestingly, the reverse mortgage market includes several different celebrities with fairly diverse backgrounds—from former actors and current actors to politicians and financial experts. They may represent different companies, but together they also represent the reverse mortgage product itself as an option for retirees to help improve their financial situations.
Aside from Winkler’s TV spots, another reverse mortgage commercial features a spokesperson with an actor you’ve probably seen on Law & Order: Fred Thompson, who played a district attorney on the popular cop show along with serving as the Senator of Tennessee for several years.
What some people may not know is that Thompson has had a personal interest in reverse mortgages since his mother got one.
TV and movie actor Robert Wagner has also appeared in the reverse mortgage space for several years, and has represented several different lenders. Barbara Eden, known for her film career and 1960’s TV role playing Jeannie in “I Dream of Jeannie,” has also appeared in commercials for the loans.
Another entertainer who has assumed a new role as a spokesperson is Pat Boone, the 10th best-selling recording artist of all time. The reverse mortgage company that hired Boone to front its brand did so because of the actor and singer’s ongoing “reach” to the senior demographic.
More recently, former M*A*S*H star-turned-financial advisor Wayne Rogers has entered the sphere through a series of commercials, and now you can also find a younger celebrity, Salsa star Gilberto Santa Rosa, appealing to the Hispanic demographic for reverse mortgages.
Whether they’re entertainers, politicians, financial professionals, or some combination of the three, many of these names have come to be synonymous with reverse mortgage products, regardless of the specific company—or companies—they represent.
But it’s also important to remember that these products, independent of who is representing them, have certain requirements and benefits including the backing of the Federal Housing Administration.
Approved lenders are able to offer FHA-insured reverse mortgages under the administration’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program. You can find out more about the program by visiting the FHA’s website or by contacting All Reverse Mortgage.
We may not have a celebrity fronting our brand, but we’re confident in our ability to serve seniors even without a famous spokesperson. Our customer service speaks for itself, and if you’re thinking about getting a reverse mortgage, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.
“Reverse Mortgage Celebrities: Fred Thompson & Henry Winkler ” By Cliff Auerswald