LOS ANGELES: 1-800-LoanMart is sticking with disgraced professional wrestler Hulk Hogan as its pitchman in a marketing campaign focused on giving people a second chance with their finances.
TV and radio ads promoting LoanMart, which defines itself as a non-traditional lending company, launched this week in California, with plans for them to go national in the coming months.
LoanMart, which has been working with Hogan since 2012, decided to renew his contract despite recent events that have hurt his reputation. Last year, WWE gave him the boot after a 2012 recording surfaced of him going on a racist rant. Hogan is also in a $100 million personal injury legal battle with Gawker Media after he sued the company for posting a sex tape featuring him.
"We believe that a lot of those comments were taken out of context and there were a lot more factors involved," said Tommy Iorio, CEO of Rio Media, the ad agency behind the campaign. "We know him to be a real standup guy who is one of the kindest people you could ever work with."
Iorio explained that LoanMart is working with Hogan and re-signed him as the face of its campaign because the series of spots "fits in with some of the things that have gone on with [Hogan] and what LoanMart really does – which is give people a second chance."
LoanMart CEO Hugo Dooner said in a statement that the campaign highlights the company’s ability to give people a second chance with their finances. He added that he believes Hogan is the "perfect spokesperson to deliver this message in an uplifting and positive manner."
A rep from LoanMart was not immediately available for comment.
"We think the messaging is really timely with where we are at in the economy," Iorio told PRWeek. "We like to help people out with a second chance and we think the message is really going to resonate with people."
Darren Prince, CEO of Prince Marketing Group and Hogan’s longtime marketing agent, negotiated the LoanMart deal with Rio Media. The agency, LoanMart’s AOR, specializes in celebrity endorsement partnerships and direct response advertising.
The many-time WWE champion allegedly went on a tirade about his daughter, singer Brooke Hogan, sleeping with a black man in 2012, according to video footage obtained by the National Enquirer and RadarOnline.com. Hogan reportedly used the N-word multiple times on the recording. The WWE severed ties with him swiftly after the reports surfaced.
Other reports last year referenced an October 2012 radio interview in which Hogan reportedly used racial slurs.