SoFi Launching Their First TV Campaign During the Superbowl

SoFi Superbowl ad

The company that basically invented student loan refinancing, SoFi, is achieving another industry first: the hallowed Superbowl ad. The TV spot reportedly cost them $5 million and will air during the second quarter of the Superbowl a week from Sunday.

SoFi started out in student loans, inventing an entire new lending category when they launched back in 2011. We have been covering the maverick company for many years now and they clearly do things their own way. Now, they are going all out in an expensive marketing campaign to bring the SoFi name to the masses. The ad that will air during the Superbowl is below (you can also see it here):

While it is not a secret that SoFi has a super prime loan book with one of the lowest default rates on the planet, in the ad they are really emphasizing the fact that not everyone can be approved for a loan at SoFi. In a binary fashion they categorize people as great or not explaining that not everyone is great enough to get approved for a loan at SoFi.

My Take on the SoFi Superbowl Ad

Commenting on Superbowl ads is clearly a subjective exercise but here is my two cents. I am not a fan of this ad. It strikes me as elitist and even somewhat discriminatory. While it is not discriminating on sex, race or religion it is implying that you are not a great person if you don’t get approved for a SoFi loan. I happen to have a close friend, who is a great person in my opinion, who was denied a SoFi loan last year. Another friend recently got approved for a SoFi loan but when he saw the ad last night he also didn’t like it. He didn’t feel good about being part of this elitist club that SoFi has arbitrarily created.

Now, I am sure SoFi realize that many people will hate the ad. They clearly want to become part of the national conversation and they will probably achieve that goal with this ad. But where does this take their brand? There are plenty of elite brands such as Rolex, Tiffany’s, Ferrari and Armani that have created a premium brand without rubbing it in people’s faces and being divisive.

I take issue with the fact that measuring greatness is in any way related to someone’s financial situation. I love SoFi and think they are an innovative company that are doing some great things but this ad is beneath them. I think it will hurt them in the long term.

That’s just my opinion. What do you think?

  • Peter Renton is the chairman and co-founder of LendIt Fintech, the world’s first and largest digital media and events company focused on fintech. Peter has been writing about fintech since 2010 and he is the author and creator of the Fintech One-on-One Podcast, the first and longest-running fintech interview series. Peter has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The New York Times, CNBC, CNN, Fortune, NPR, Fox Business News, the Financial Times, and dozens of other publications.