Sometimes you see an ad and really wonder how that company can afford to advertise. In the case of Credit Karma, I think the answer is pretty obvious.
Because it almost seems unfair to pick on an ad that clearly had no budget at all, let me start with what I actually like about this ad: the messaging. It does get a little obscured by the delivery, but there's a decent point in there about how a person's credit score can change and that just because you knew it once doesn't mean you're set for life. That's fine.
Then there's what I don't like about the ad, which is almost everything else.
Woman 1: "Oh, cool! I can check my credit score on Credit Karma!"
A+ on getting right out there with the name and what the product is, I guess. Sadly, that's the ad peaking in the first three seconds.
Woman 2: "Checking your credit score is for chumps! I have great credit!"
Woman 1: "How do you know?"
Woman 2: "Duh!" [displays tattoo reading "721"]
Not that I expected them to give this woman a real tattoo, but that could look a little less like it was done with a Sharpie.
Woman 1: "You know those change, right?"
Woman 2: "Tattoos don't change!"
Swish! Nailed that joke. What is the deal with this woman's delivery? Trying to make sure they can hear her in the back row of the Palace Theatre? Victim of a recent head injury? Under the impression this is an ad for Totino's Pizza Rolls?
Woman 1: "Try Credit Karma. It's free, and you can see what your score is, right now."
Could they not have used a take where this woman wasn't clearly reading her lines off the laptop screen? Of course, maybe it's presumptuous of me to assume that there was actually a second take. They probably had ten minutes to shoot this before the director's kids got back from soccer practice.
Woman 1: "Aren't you a little bit curious?"
The really weird thing is that this exact same line appears in Naughty Housewives 94, which was shot in the same kitchen just two hours earlier. With the same music. And the same caliber of acting.
Woman 2 [manically]: "I just got my free credit score!!!"
Woman 1 only appears from the back after this point because the volume at which that line was delivered caused her eyeballs to explode.
Announcer: "Credit Karma. Really free credit scores. Really! Free!"
I suppose I would believe that Credit Karma has absolutely zero income given this ad's budget of "one of those chocolate chip cookie party trays," but I have to think that "we give you your credit score for free" is probably not the whole story here. If you can afford ad space, you're making money somehow, and if it's not from charging for your primary service, that means one of three things: (1) your page is loaded with ads; (2) you force people to sign up to get their free score, then sell their info to third parties; or (3) you push paid services on your customers, and as long as a small but reasonable percentage of them sign up for these additional services, you've made enough to get by. Based on this Forbes page, it seems like a version of #2, although it appears that Credit Karma only gets money for a successful referral which at least incentivizes them not to just send you the way of whatever junk comes rolling in. Good for them, if so. This is still a terrible ad.