I'm no fan of reverse mortgages, but they are selling a service for which there is a ready market. Certainly if you plan for retirement you should never need to take out a reverse mortgage, but there are plenty of people who due to poor planning or circumstances beyond their control find themselves with no cash, no income yet significant assets in their home. They may have no living heirs to support them or to inherit their home. Why shouldn't they cash in their house rather than survive on cat food?
I haven't seen the ad you describe. I'd have to watch TV, and I seldom do. Obviously there are plenty of crooks in the mortgage industry, and the reverse mortgage business is no exception.