Prologue: You can’t make this stuff up! In an effort to shed its past transgressions, like a snake sheds its skin, Nationstar Mortgage has had a makeover that includes assuming a new name. It is now officially, “Mr. Cooper”. This redo, or in golfing parlance, “mulligan”, had been in the works for some time – since 2015. The backstory can be found, here and here. This anthropomorphic transformation is, per its YouTube video, here, so the company can become “more human”. As I recall, Dr. Frankenstein tried that too, with disastrous results. ~PCQ
In the Rogues Gallery of big non-bank mortgage servicers, Nationstar must thank the foreclosure gods for Ocwen, probably the most reviled of its brethren. But Nationstar is running a close second in terms of customer complaints and piling up fines and damages from regulators and class action lawyers alike.
So what do the corporate execs do to polish their tarnished image? Rebrand, of course. So apparently, the bigwigs hired the well-known PR firm, Lipstick on a Pig, Inc., to undertake this daunting makeover. After convening several think tanks (albeit in the shallow end), and with all the wattage they could muster, the brainiacs had an epiphany akin to Paul on the road to Damascus. They decided to become the good guys. In addition to making several public mea culpas about becoming “…the friendliest, most trusted advocate for every customer, whether we’re helping you with a loan, refinancing, or simply servicing your existing loan” they decided to change their moniker.
No more stodgy, corporate name that conveyed nothing about their new transformation. By golly, they would completely remake themselves! If I were a fly on the wall of the corporate boardroom, I imagine the conversation went something like this:
CHAIRMAN: OK everyone, let’s come to order. Please put down the whips and chains – this is the last time you’ll be permitted to carry them around in public. And Tom, that means you too, put that medieval thumbscrew back in your briefcase, it’s not a fidget toy, even though I know it gives you great comfort.
You’ve all seen the latest polls. Ever since Charles Manson died, our unfavorability rating spiked, replacing him; as long as he was alive, we were sure he would come out ahead of us in the most disliked department. Not anymore. And we already passed Pol Pot years ago; we’re winning the race to the bottom, and it’s not where I want to be.
So, the purpose of this special meeting is to figure out some way to remake our image so that people begin thinking of us as the friendly, non-threatening family-next door, who stops by to bring them fresh cookies and picks up the mail when they’re on vacation.
LES GUILE: Sir, I know I’m the new kid on the block – after being here not quite a month – but perhaps with my fresh-faced corporate naïveté’, I might be able to bring a different perspective to this discussion.
CHAIRMAN: Oh, OK. But I don’t want the public to confuse our new friendly persona with our “take-no-prisoners” approach to debt collection. This makeover is only intended to be skin-deep. Or as we used to say in school, “Old Wine in New Bottles”.
LES GUILE: Understood. When I was a kid, I loved old westerns. Couldn’t get enough of them. And my favorite western star was Gary Cooper. He always conveyed the strong silent type. When you thought of him, you’d think “Nice Guy”.
CHAIRMAN: And your point is, Guile?
LES GUILE: Well, my point is sir, as a part of our makeover, why don’t we rename ourselves – call our company “Mr. Cooper”. [Derisive snickers around table.]
DEE FAULTING: Hmmmm. Not bad. So when we send out our demand letters threatening to rain down a parade of horribles on borrowers if they don’t pay up, it comes in a harmless looking envelope from “Mr. Cooper”. And the letterhead would have the same innocuous name. Not until the borrower begins reading the letter does the ulcer start to form – but it’s too late, we now have their attention. I like that! Before, they’d just see “Nationstar” on the envelope, and round-file it. Now, at least they will open it, which is better than before.
K.Y. SLICK: Well, being the senior and oldest guy around this table, let me tell you what I think. Back in 1971, long before most of you at the table were born, there was a guy who was the father of airplane hijackings – and he was never identified or located. His alias was “D.B. Cooper”, and during a noneventful flight from Portland to Seattle, he told the flight attendant he was carrying a bomb in his briefcase, and demanded $200,000 in ransom ($1,210,000 in today’s dollars) and some parachutes. He tossed back a couple of bourbon and waters, and lit a cigarette – cool as a cucumber. After the passengers were released and the plane refueled in Seattle, it became airborne again, with its crew confined in the cockpit area behind a closed door.
Once in flight, Mr. Cooper activated the plane’s airstairs used for departing passengers to exit after landing, and parachuted out into the dead of night, $200,000 richer. Whether he survived with any of the loot is the stuff of legends. It is the only unsolved skyjacking in commercial aviation history. Now that’s the Mr. Cooper I’d like us to be! Cool, cunning, crooked, and never caught!
CHAIRMAN: Alright, K.Y. we can agree that our “Mr. Cooper” can fit either persona – the public doesn’t need to know. The result is the same; we will now have a quiet unassuming name that doesn’t remind anyone that we’re really a much-reviled loan servicer with a rap sheet as long as your arm.
K.Y. Slick: One more thing: Can we have our logo be the picture of a parachute?
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