So This Mortgage Broker Walks Into a Bar…


Mortgages remind me a bit of dentistry – really important but not a lot of fun to talk about. My good friend Kerry is the chief marketing officer at a Japanese lending company. He’s done a whole series of advertisements on what it feels like to take out a mortgage.

My favorites are “climb” and “kitchen” but they are all pretty funny. I’m impressed with these ads because Kerry has been able to do two truly rare things in the series: 1) make home mortgages funny, and 2) star in his ads (he is the voiceover and distinguished- looking gentleman at the end of each commercial). If I know Kerry, he did the work himself so he could save money.

Disclosure: I’m in no way endorsing JJLoan. I only know for sure that they make good commercials.

8 Responses to “So This Mortgage Broker Walks Into a Bar…”

  1. Ron Shevlin Says:

    Those are great ads. Can’t think of anybody in the US who uses humor to market their mortgage products.

    I will say this, though — I hope your friend Kerry’s firm lives up to the implied promise that they’re different (and better). Nothing will kill the credibility of JJLoan faster than if it bashes the competition for a poor product and experience if it’s guilty of the same.

  2. Jason Knight Says:


    I agree with you – that is the danger of great advertising, (higher expectations) so the product has support the promise. Maybe if Kerry reads the comment section of this blog he can tell us what a great job they are doing 🙂

  3. Ron Shevlin Says:

    Kerry — If you DO read this, please don’t just tell us what a “great job” you’re doing. Tell us what you’re doing *operationally* — from a customer experience perspective — to deliver on the promise implied (it ain’t even implied, is it?) in the ads. Thanks in advance.

  4. kit Says:

    Can’t think of any domestic mortgage companies that advertise using humor? How about Ameriquest’s “Don’t Judge Too Quickly” campaign? At least year’s Super Bowl these were some of the funniest spots in the game.

    cat killer

    Sadly, the fact that you couldn’t remember these probably means they’re not as effective as some of their less entertaining competitor’s ads.

  5. kit Says:

    Excuse me, I meant to say “last year’s Super Bowl.”

  6. Jason Knight Says:


    I think those ads are good, but I like the JJLoan adds more. They are both funny, but the JJLoan ads remind/warn you of what it feels like to take a bad mortgage.

  7. Kerry Says:

    Hi everyone,

    First, on behalf of all of us at New City Mortgage, thank you for your comments and observations. And, domo arigato to Jason for blogging us – it’s great to hear feedback from outside of Japan.

    New City Mortgage is a online mortgage lending service designed to serve traditionally under-served consumers in Japan. is our direct channel. Our products and services are also distributed online via to a nationwide network of housing loan brokers, real developers, sales agents, advisors, and online businesses.

    Traditionally, a Japanese consumer would go to the Government Housing Loan Corporation (GHLC), a large bank, or non-bank lender.

    All typically have rigid standards for qualification: full-time salaried employee at large (preferably listed) company, which means male, head of household, married, 1.4 children, low debt, down payment of 20%, etc.

    So if you’re self-employed, freelancing, run a start-up, or just changed jobs (even at a higher salary), sorry, your application will not be accepted. Single working female? Come back after you get married. Non-Japan national without Permanent Resident status? Sorry, gaijin shoganai ne?

    We are different. We don’t pigeonhole people into an outmoded set of assumptions about employment status, sex, nationality, etc. Our credit decisions are based on each individual’s ability and willingness to repay the mortgage.

    We are unique in providing onlne mortgage lending services for non-Japanese nationals who have a long-term visa and we provide this service in English.

    Our products are designed to meet the needs of people at different life stages and lifestyles. JJLoan was originally conceived as “jibunryu jutaku loan” – my style loan. We want to give the Consumer the widest possible range of choices so they can customize their mortgage plan.

    People can choose the interest rate mechanism, term, scheduled prepayments, etc. and we’ll quote an interest rate based on those choices. Traditional lenders usually offer only one or two loan packages – we let people customize their mortgage.

    We also believe people should make a well-informed choice of mortgages. We provide a range of educational resources, including podcasts, to help people gain knowledge, then simulate mortgage scenarios to consider their options. This is offered as a free service on a commercial-free, no-registration website.

    Jason can tell you that any transaction with a Japanese financial instituion requires lot of waiting, a mountain of paperwork, and a hanko (personals seal).

    We want to cut the time and hassle related to the process of selecting, applying, qualifying for, and closing the loan. We want to make it easier to manage the repayments at every life stage. Online application, pre-qualification, pre-approval, free prepayments, account management – things you’d expect elsewhere but still uncommon here.

    The creative director was Graham Kelly, a former colleague of both Jason and me. The agency was BBH Tokyo – a great creative shop. We were indeed trying to find a funny and memorable way to show people what might happen if they couldn’t flexibly manage their mortgage at different stages of life or if interest rates went up.

    Japan is different. One of the challenges with the creative was to avoid running into legal problems. We can’t claim or imply our products are superior to competitors (fair trade law); we are legally obligated to avoid “excessive lending”(moneylending law) or inducing consumers to borrow too much by making it seem “easy” (truth in advertising law); we must be careful not to mock or imply criticism of our competitors.

    Mortgage advertising in Japan tends to be warm and fuzzy, slice of life, happy family stuff. Pleasant but not very memorable. I love the Ameriquest creative – funny and to the point.

    The challenge for Graham and BBH was to show “under-served” consumers – who weren’t aware they were under-served – that there was an alternative to a mortgage being a heavy burden. And that’s

    The viral launch of was a great success creatively and continues to drive results for New City Mortgage. Our competitors have caught on and are cloning our ideas – which is why it took me so long to reply!


  8. Jason Knight Says:


    Wow! Thanks for joining the conversation. I laughed out loud at the “shoganai ne.” Service in Japan is great until you walk into a bank…they shut down the ATM machines on holidays!

    On a personal note Kerry and I used to help IBM sell its products and services all over Asia. Marketing technology products is fun because you feel like you are selling the infrastructure to the future. Building and selling financial products is cool because you are creating the tools people use to realize their dreams. Congrats again Kerry for taking on such cool work.

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