Phenomenon Rebrands Nationstar as Mr. Cooper, Leads the Office in a Stirring Round of ‘Man in the Mirror’

By Patrick Coffee 

Nationstar is a data security firm, right? No, it’s a bank. No, it’s a car loan provider.

You’re all wrong, it was a mortgage company with a branding problem. Enter Phenomenon, the L.A. agency or “innovations company” founded by former DDB chief strategy officer Krishnan Menon.

Phenomenon recently helped Nationstar complete its planned transformation into Mr. Cooper and launched the renamed entity’s first campaign this week. We’ll start with the highlight: a minute-long sketch starring generic office workers inspired by the late Michael Jackson.

That song was about a multi-millionaire learning to better appreciate the plight of homeless people, but it could theoretically also apply to those who need a mortgage loan.

And the company has indeed made a change.

This work was more about a long-term effort to update the public perception of Nationstar rather than to just make a few ads. Phenomenon has been on the account for quite a while, and its team did everything from coming up with the new name and logo to making some ads, which the agency has gone out of its way to frame as simply one small slice of a much larger pie.

Here’s an explainer video introducing the new business formerly known as Nationstar.

From Menon: “When Nationstar’s CMO approached us over two years ago, he gave our team a challenge: How do we reinvent the home loan industry and rebuild trust with consumers that had lost faith in the institution itself? Nationstar was born out of the housing crisis and economic downturn and the company recognized a change was needed.

“We knew we needed ACTIONS, not ADS. We knew that re-inventing one of the largest home loan companies would need something bigger; we would need new products and services and digital tools that benefited their customers—a new way to talk and behave— and a customer-centric approach that employees could embrace. Together, our partnership has resulted in the first mortgage brand that’s been built from the ground up to fuel the dream of home-ownership. Mr. Cooper is more than just a name—its the way we, Coopers, all do business.”

The agency designed the company’s website, created a new mobile app, designed the logo and all related assets “with a lot of research and buy-in from the client,” created new formats for direct mail and billing statements, made all the digital ads including the videos above and even helped redesign the company’s offices. And the Phenomenon team came up with the idea of referring to every person within the business as another Mr. Cooper.

It was quite extensive, which is understandable considering how most Americans still view mortgage providers nearly a decade after the last housing crisis. As CEO Jay Bray put it on an early 2016 earnings call, “Mr. Cooper is meant to be that advocate that person that’s going to connect with the customers to deliver best—better experience and to be an advocate for them day in and day out.”

Many seem to read it as a reference to Gary Cooper.

From Phenomenon group brand director Jon Levine:

“The evolution to Mr. Cooper was never about just advertising. It is the personification of what consumers rabidly want in the space—a champion in their corner, someone to help make getting to the great American dream less of a challenge. We knew this couldn’t happen overnight. Throughout our research, we constantly heard how employees were going to be a critical piece in living out the promise.

So from day one, Mr. Cooper was never about ‘a’ person but about the thousands of employees who were going to live and breathe the promise every day. And it was during this time of internal roll-out that the further products, services and tools were developed so that when it was time to bring Mr. Cooper to its millions of customers, it was more than just a new name and identity. Instead, Mr. Cooper the brand, and the company, were completely aligned on helping customers achieve the dream of home ownership.”

Side note: did you know Menon worked on product integration segments for Celebrity Apprentice? Neither did we. Wonder what that was like.


Client: Mr. Cooper
Agency: Phenomenon

President & CEO: Krish Menon
Group Brand Director: Jonathan Levine
Sr. Brand Director: Meghan Dougherty
Brand Manager: Sophie Allen
Brand Manager: Amanda Tutora
Project Manager: Cornelia
Chief Creative Officer: Chris Adams
Creative Director: Jeff Heath, Tim Bateman
Associate Creative Director: Steve O’brien, Julian Newman, Sean Cunningham, Aaron Sanchez
Design Director: Sim Brar
Senior Designer: Sarah Stroschein, Andy Hawgood, Nic Brenden
Designer: Seth Stephan
Chief Strategy Officer: Jason De Turris
Strategy Director: Martin Heaton
Head of U: Ian Campbell
UX Lead: Peter Ford
Head of Integrated Production: Chris Kyriakos
Producer: Karin Ostrander, Jenny Court
Jr. Digital Producer: Anoosh