Mortgage Banker Taps Doner for DM

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American Equity Mortgage named Doner, Southfield, MI, as its ad agency of record on an account worth $40 million to $50 million that carries a direct marketing focus.

The agency won the mortgage banking account over OgilvyOne Worldwide's New York and Los Angeles offices. Nine agencies participated in the review for American Equity's advertising responsibilities, previously handled in-house.

"They told us that we simply understood the business better than our other competitors," said Alan Kalter, chairman/CEO of Doner.

Media vehicles under consideration are television, print, radio, direct mail, the Internet and other lead generation tactics. The agency will handle media planning and buying, too.

"They're currently a major advertiser on radio, but we'll be looking at print or TV from a direct response standpoint," Kalter said.

Founded in 1992, American Equity, St. Louis, reported a loan volume last year exceeding $3 billion. More than 600 employees work in 42 branches nationwide, closing loans in 26 states.

Doner's mandate is to grow the brand as well as leads. Direct marketing will help with lead generation.

"It's a strong lead generation business," Kalter said of his client. "It's all about getting people to inquire about mortgages and financing."

This is 69-year-old Doner's first mortgage banking account. The nation's largest independent agency, Doner has clients like ADT, Progressive Insurance, HGTV, LensCrafters, Food Network, La-Z-Boy, Blockbuster Entertainment, Mazda, Owens Corning and Serta. Capitalized billings are $1.8 billion, 30 percent from DM and the rest branding.

Doner recently audited American Equity and talked with a cross-section of the mortgage bank's customers. The agency is crafting a positioning strategy ahead of new creative that rolls out across various media sometime this summer. The challenge is "defining the brand in a superior manner versus key competitors in the category like Ameriquest and Quicken Loans' Rock Financial," Kalter said.

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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