- Some real estate players are pulling out all the stops to make the major leagues with celebrity cameos and millions of dollars invested into this year's Super Bowl commercials.
- Tech, convenience and change in the industry are common themes throughout the messaging.
- Both the Super Bowl and the housing industry as we know it are a half-century old.
When an expected 200 million viewers tune in this Sunday to the Super Bowl 50 face off between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, they will also await this year’s most anticipated commercial advertisements.
And sandwiched between the familiar car, beer and cellphone brands that usually purchase the pricey spots are several real estate and mortgage-related companies seeking to make a splash with their marketing.
The commercials required substantial investments by the companies, as CBS set the base rate for a 30-second advertisement at $5 million — a record high price for a Super Bowl ad. Other brands scheduled to run ads include Doritos, Budweiser, Snickers, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Kia, Honda, Taco Bell, T-Mobile, Paypal and Amazon.
“It’s definitely not for the faint of heart,” admitted Becky Carr, chief marketing officer of CoStar Group, which already spent $100 million last year on the Apartments.com advertising campaign featuring actor Jeff Goldblum. But the campaign “increased the number of unique visitors to our website by three times, so we correlate the investment in our marketing to the revenue it’s driven,” Carr said.
Here’s a look at five industry leaders you can expect to see advertise during the big game.
Spot title: “What We Were Thinking”
To air: Nationally during the first half of the game
“What if we did for mortgages what the Internet did for buying music, plane tickets and shoes?” asks Detroit-based lender Quicken Loans in its 60-second spot. “If we made it easier to get a mortgage, wouldn’t more people buy homes? And if they did, what would that mean for our economy?”
That’s what Quicken was thinking with this spot, which is aimed at millennials and uses slick production techniques to promote its new Rocket Mortgage program, an online mortgage application launched last fall that pledges to get borrowers approved for a mortgage loan in less than eight minutes.
The commercial suggests that by making it easier for people to get a mortgage, the resulting boost in homebuying activity will positively impact other sectors of the American economy as new homeowners purchase household goods.
“Our mission is to explain to everyone in America that we have revolutionized how people can get a mortgage,” said Jay Farner, president and chief marketing officer at Quicken. “Everything in life has gotten so much easier thanks to technology, and we have been able to do the same for mortgages.”
Spot titles: Two ads, “All Things Real Estate” and “Sunshine and Puppies”
To air: Nationally during the pregame
Realtor.com will air two spots during the pregame coverage as part of its ongoing, award-winning “Real Estate in Real Time” campaign featuring actress and director Elizabeth Banks.
“Some people don’t like the accurate, real-time real estate info on the realtor.com app,” Banks says in one 15-second spot, “Sunshine and Puppies.” She adds: “Some people also don’t like sunshine, three-day weekends or puppies.”
In another, 30-second ad called “All Things Real Estate,” Banks calls the realtor.com app a “real-time real estate secret weapon” that you can use to find out “exactly what your neighbors paid for their house.” As the neighbors walk by, Banks quickly says hello and then surreptitiously tells the viewer, “They used the secret weapon, and now they’re living the dream. In a really nice house. So cute.”
“We are using humor and plain language to help viewers better understand the real estate process and have a little fun with what is a really serious topic,” said Nate Johnson, realtor.com’s chief marketing officer. “Buying a home is certainly complicated and a very high stakes, life-long decision — but with the right tools and the right experts, it can be fun, even thrilling.”
Spot title: “Movin’ On Up”
To air: National spot will air during game’s second commercial break; eight regional spots will air during the third quarter of the game
This is the first Super Bowl commercial spot for online apartment listing service Apartments.com, which CoStar Group, acquired in 2014 for $585 million — but the company’s $100-million advertising campaign featuring actor Jeff Goldblum as Brad Bellflower, “an eccentric Silicon Valley maverick and visionary futurist,” is already well-known.
For this campaign, CoStar packs even more celebrity and pop culture into a 60-second spot that will air early on in the game, and shorter, 30-second versions that will air later.
Seated at a grand piano as he is raised by a crane along the side of a towering apartment building, Bellflower sings a parody of “Movin’ On Up,” the theme song from the 1980s hit television show “The Jeffersons” as he observes new tenants moving into the building’s many units.
Bellflower ends up on the rooftop terrace, where he encounters “George” and “Weezy” — not the Jeffersons, as expected, but President George Washington and rapper Lil Wayne, whose nickname is Weezy — cooking beans on a grill as a choir sings, “beans don’t burn on the grill!”
The spot will be followed up with a new commercial campaign that will kick off this spring. Becky Carr, chief marketing officer of CoStar, said both the Super Bowl spot and the new campaign marks a shift Apartments.com’s marketing strategy from focusing on the website’s features to “celebrating apartment renting, which has become a way of life for millions of Americans.”
“Today, an estimated 42 million households rent, and it’s one of the biggest financial decisions people make, with many people spending as much as 50 percent of their salaries on renting,” Carr said. “We really want to celebrate what it feels to move into a new apartment — to ‘move on up’ to a new place — and enjoy that experience.”
Spot title: “Game Show”
To air: In four major markets during the commercial break just before the third quarter of the game; a longer version will air nationally beginning Feb. 8
Guaranteed Rate, the nation’s eighth-largest mortgage lender, will use its 30-second spot to promote Digital Mortgage, an online mortgage application the company launched last year.
“A digital mortgage process will very soon become a requirement across the industry,” said Darren Beck, the company’s chief marketing officer. “As customers experience and appreciate the convenience and speed of a digital mortgage, they will never consider going through the traditional process in the future. Lenders who do not adapt quickly to the digital model will not be around for long.”
[Tweet “Darren Beck: ‘Lenders who do not adapt quickly to the digital model will not be around for long.”’]
The spot casts Guaranteed Rate’s longtime spokesperson, home improvement guru Ty Pennington, in the role of a game show host who quizzes a contestant on the top reasons to use Guaranteed Rate for her next home loan.
Beck said Guaranteed Rate wasn’t planning on buying a Super Bowl ad, but after learning that there were still a few available placements in local markets, “we jumped at the chance.” The commercial will air regionally in four markets: Chicago, where Guaranteed Rate’s headquarters are located; Boston; Tampa, Florida; and Salt Lake City.
A 60-second version of the commercial will air nationally beginning the day after the Super Bowl.
“Investing in strategic marketing campaigns has paid off tremendously for us already, and we expect this spot to deliver even greater exposure and results,” said Victor Ciardelli, president and CEO of Guaranteed Rate.
Spot title: “Great Loans for Great People”
To air: Nationally during the first half of the game
Joining these well-established and recognizable brands is newcomer SoFi, a nonbank lender that began to disrupt the traditional mortgage space in 2013 by offering jumbo loans to early-stage professionals with unique financial circumstances.
Recently recognized by Forbes as one of its “Fintech 50” companies of the year, SoFi does not charge origination fees on its mortgage products or require private mortgage insurance (PMI) on its loans, which typically close in less than 30 days.
SoFi’s 30-second Super Bowl spot, “Great Loans for Great People,” focuses on Brandon, a “great” SoFi borrower who got a “great” rate on a $50,000 loan. The commercial encourages viewers, “Don’t bank. SoFi. Find out if you’re great at Sofi.com. You’re probably not.”
The Super Bowl commercial kicks off a series of spots that SoFi will air during the first quarter of the year, featuring seven different SoFi borrowers and their stories. One of the borrowers, Alfonso Brigham, who closed on his SoFi loan on Dec. 1, said he had fun participating in the commercial shoot in Los Angeles, where he also took the opportunity to visit family members who live in the area.
Brigham, a 32-year-old financial services industry employee, praised SoFi for giving him a good enough deal on a mortgage to get out of the $5,100-per month, two-bedroom San Francisco apartment he shared with a roommate.
“Last year, my landlord told us he was going to raise our rent by 15 percent to 20 percent,” Brigham said. “I could have afforded to pay it, but I started thinking to myself, maybe it’s time to start looking at buying. But the issue in San Francisco is that most homes are in the $700,000 range, and all banks want you to put 20 percent down. Even if you have a high credit score, everyone in the city is still paying higher rent than mortgage payments.”
SoFi offered Brigham a 10-percent down loan with no origination fee, PMI or dual loan structure, enabling him to buy a one-bedroom condo in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood so close to his job, he can walk to work.
“Obviously, I needed a place fast.” Brigham said. “To traditional lenders, I would not exactly be considered a big fish.”
Brigham’s commercial will air later this spring.
Bonus spot: Relola
Relola’s “Falcons Love Real Estate” Super Bowl video is worth a watch. It was filmed on an iPhone in one continuous shot. Now that’s cinematography. (It won’t be running during the Super Bowl, but we still liked it enough to include it.)