TV advertising in real estate

by Alistair Helm in ,

TV in this country is still the number one media-of-choice when it comes to advertising; accounting for just over a quarter of all advertising spend in the past year. However it is fast being caught by online which sits just over 20% and has risen from less than 1% nine years ago. In dollar terms over the period from 2004 online has gone from a spend of $15m to $471m; whilst TV has gone from $643m to $634m!

Having foretold the potential demise of TV advertising, there is no doubt it remains a very creative medium, ever more so these days as the content has effectively become detached from the delivery medium be it TV, YouTube, Facebook or just viral social sharing.

When it comes to the real estate industry TV or at least video as a package appears to be being used more and more. I commented recently on the advertising campaigns being undertaken by both Trade Me Property and, neither of which for me really made an impression, certainly not enough to make me want to share the content or discuss with friends. 

Over the past month I have been aware of a number of differing approaches to video/TV adverts within real estate across the world, I thought it would be fun to share these and comment on the execution.


Let's start with a real estate company TV commercial. Coldwell Banker is one of the heavy weight players in the US as well as operating in over 51 countries.

Simple concept - take decent handful of happy people enjoying life around a house, add slick editing and slow motion effects place over classic Motley Crue track "Home Sweet Home" and bake in the editing suite for 20 minutes!

This advert has to be the best example of the pure generic advert where the brand is lost and instantly forgettable - switch out the end-frame and you have a commercial for any real estate company, or a life insurance company for that matter. Sure every real estate company would like to think that every one of their clients wants to think, look, feel and live like the actors in the commercial, but the emotion created in the advert is for the home, not the agency. 

Here on the other hand is a very different approach from a UK based real estate company Douglas & Gordon. Created a couple of years ago now and made entirely for online sharing this spoof parody of a real estate firm is distinctly memorable, although again a generic spoof with no brand reference!  

The recurring issue for real estate companies in their advertising is how to establish a point of difference. The feelings they want to engender in their clients has nothing to do with how they operate and everything to do with the outcome of the new home.


From real estate companies, lets turn to property portals. I mentioned earlier the two recent campaigns from NZ; in the USA the market is likely to be heating up significantly with two of the leading players Zillow and Trulia about to slug it out with a total war chest between them of close to US$100m this year alone!

Trulia rolled out their campaign with what they call "Moment of Trulia".

There are many of the same issues here as with the Coldwell Banker advert - what you might call "The path to happy house buying". Trulia does deliver mobile searching and insights into neighbourhoods but the message is till wrapped in the slick edit of "happy home owners".

Zillow began their heavyweight campaign last year with a 'tear-jerker' of a commercial which certainly had in equal measure fans and distractors.

I thought it was a great advert, loads of functional features that make Zillow a great tool for home finding and discovery, love or hate the ending I think the advert works and would make me use Zillow.

From the slick and some would say somewhat 'sickly' US commercials here is a new commercial from the leading Indian property portal MagicBricks. Be aware the advert is not in english but I think you will understand the message pretty well.

I think there is a smart campaign idea here, an iconic and somewhat spoof real estate person and his sidekick James Bond to be the super sleuth of property search pitched against the insight offered by MagicBricks - distinctive, memorable and funny! It is distinctive and for advertising to be effective it needs to create "cut-through" and be memorable and distinctive - this one gets my vote.

From property portals lets look at another side of the industry, that of organisations. Here I think I have found an excellent advert from Canada from the Canadian Real Estate Association.

It is different and the message comes across so well to me - why take a risk of not using an agent?!

And finally to end on a upbeat and happy note - the new industry organisation for young professionals in real estate (YPIRE) have developed a wonderful take on a popular music video by Pharrell Williams - Happy. The video is not trying to send a distinct message but for me it made me think for a minute about the image of real estate agents - no they can't all be like those in the video, but real estate is all about emotion and the best emotion is happiness!