For a chance to win, players pay by giving up a lot of their personal data for the companies’ gain. “I think it shows how desperate people are, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way,” Oliver said of the various ways companies have begun to market toward people like her, graduates out of school with thousands in debt who feel like they’ll be paying it off for the rest of their lives.
Burger King launched one of the biggest student debt-focused campaigns in late May, tweeting, “got student loans? what’s ur $cashtag. ” The tweet generated 94k replies, and the fast-food chain told NBC News that 800 people who responded got some money sent to their account.
Torpey understands why some might think that his show is insensitive, or that it trivializes a serious issue, especially because “Paid Off” is supposed to be fun to watch. “For some people, the student debt crisis is so painful that there is no room for laughter,” he said. “My strategy is just different.
Givling’s chief marketing officer, Seth Beard, said that apps like Givling are important since many people feel like they have no feasible escape plan from their student debt.
And as Americans like Oliver become further saddled with debt — holding a combined $1. 47 trillion in student loans at the end of 2018 — the topic has itself become part of the cultural milieu.
These offers come from companies that don’t have anything to do with debt: a trivia app, Burger King, a game show, and even Natural Ice beer. “I think it’s a little sad that things like this have to exist because it’s such a problem,” Oliver said.
From Burger King to Natty Ice to a TruTV game show, student debt is being used to launch ventures and ad campaigns.
As student debt has become a widely recognized issue — and even a political flashpoint — companies have used the topic to market their offerings.
Michael Torpey, the host of the show, said he recognized its “absurd” nature, which he said is meant as a commentary on the student debt crisis. “Isn’t it crazy that this show is what we need? ” he said. “This is what it has come to, to pay for education.
Sarah Oliver, 26, regularly sees offers from a variety of companies claiming they can alleviate her student debt.
About a year before Whopper Loans, Natural (Natty) Ice announced a similar plan to Burger King’s, saying the company would give away $1 million to pay off people’s student loans.