Brokerage radio ad raises eyebrows in Ottawa

Brokerage radio ad raises eyebrows in Ottawa

A radio ad for a leading Ottawa brokerage is stirring leads but also controversy with its subtle jab at the competition – other brokerages included.

“I don’t know whether it’s good or bad,” Chad Robinson, president of Verico Best Interest Mortgages, told “But when I heard it I knew it represented a bit of a change in that the brokerage was identifying other brokers as competitors and not just the banks.”

The ad from Ottawa-Carleton Mortgage Inc. – one of the leading brokerages in the area – has been on the airwaves for the last four or five weeks. It’s one of many the company runs in the highly competitive market, where other brokers rely on an aggressive radio presence to hawk their wares.

What makes this promo different, say mortgage professionals, is it asks consumers to choose between individual brokerages and not just between the banks and the broker channel.

“Choosing the right mortgage broker could save you thousands,” is the ad’s key tagline.

The message is very subtle, say insiders, still, it heightens competition within the broker channel, even as the industry looks to grow its market share from outside rather than within.

“Oh, we noticed the ad right away -- its two-tiered message about competing with the banks and other brokers,” Mike Hapke, managing partner for Mortgage Brokers City (Ottawa), told “All’s fair in love and war, but it’s not really our approach because we prefer to support the industry as a whole.”

His brokerage is one of the region’s largest, with arguably the industry’s strongest advertising and marketing presence. With a history stretching back several decades, brokers have carved out a higher market share than much of the rest of the country’s 25 per cent. The ad may reflect that reality, said Hapke, and could be viewed as a good thing in that it takes for granted consumer knowledge of the broker industry and its services.

Still that familiarity means brokers must increasingly compete against each other as they try to track down leads and drive new purchasers and existing homeowners to their storefronts.

Ignoring competitive forces within the broker channel just doesn’t make sense, said the man behind the ad.

“Banks draw comparisons between themselves and other banks,” Grant King, president and principal broker for Ottawa-Carleton Mortgage Inc., told “It’s fair for brokerages to do the same thing. You want to get the business from wherever, whether that’s another brokerage or a bank. Marketing is about bringing people to the door without having to go knocking on doors.”