PICTURE this all-American television scene: It is a warm and sunny day and a happy family is moving into their first home on Main Street, USA. This could be a commercial for a number of products, from electric ranges to home security systems to floor wax.
But surprise - it's an advertisement for Freddie Mac, the quasi-governmental buyer of mortgages.
Since last year, Freddie Mac - or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation - has been advertising in the Washington, D.C., area. The company, stockholder-owned and chartered by Congress, began testing a series of three commercials and four print ads beginning last July and continuing through November. It resumed again in time for the Super Bowl and the Olympics.
This kind of advertising might be considered unusual for such an institution: Homeowners have little choice about the sale of their mortgages to the secondary mortgage market. And chances are, most people do not know what (or who) Freddie Mac is.
But perhaps they should be interested: This secondary mortgage lender has financed one in every six American homes - that's one every four seconds, one of the commercials points out. ``At Freddie Mac, we don't build the dream, we just make it a reality,'' one ad reads. ``In an ever-changing world, one thing remains the same. The American Dream. The dream of owning a home.... Our goal is to make that dream a reality.''
``It's really a corporate image campaign,'' explains Sabine Wilson, Freddie Mac director of corporate communications. Freddie Mac research shows that there is greater understanding about what Freddie Mac does as a result of the advertising. The advertising is aimed at Washington-area ``business influentials,'' such as legislators and chief executive officers, rather than the ``general public.'' There are no plans to expand the advertising nationwide, Ms. Wilson says.