Marketing

Jeff Goldblum’s latest role: Apartments.com mastermind

Big real real estate brands flock to TV


Jeff Goldblum plays Brad Bellflower, the fictional mastermind of apartments.com.

Real estate brokers and agents have become adept at using the Internet and social media to grow their business. But suddenly TV is blazing hot, with big brand names like Zillow, realtor.com, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Re/Max, Redfin and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices among those putting big bucks into the medium.

Last year Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com operator Move Inc. spent an estimated $145 million combined on national marketing campaigns.

But if you thought the rivalry between realtor.com and Zillow (which now owns Trulia) was the fiercest in the land, you might have missed the news on Inman that CoStar Group has launched an “aggressive” play to win the rental portal space in 2015 with a $100 million consumer marketing campaign promoting its revamped Apartments.com rental site.

Now that a TV spot starring actor Jeff Goldblum as Brad Bellflower — an “eccentric Silicon Valley maverick and visionary futurist” supposedly behind Apartments.com’s new look — has debuted, you’ll be hard pressed to miss the campaign.

There are seven versions of the ad, which ran during Sunday’s broadcast of “The Walking Dead,” and is now headed to 70 network programs and 30 cable networks, including premieres and season finales such as “The Bachelor,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Empire” and “Survivor.” Don’t watch those? If you’re a sports fan, you’ll be seeing apartments.com spots during Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association games.

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Apartments.com faces some stiff competition in the space, from the likes of Apartment Guide, ForRent.com, Rent.com and Zillow.

A recent forecast by Borrell Associates projects spending on online advertising by real estate agents and brokers will decline by 2 percent this year, to $10.5 billion, in part because so much money is being funneled into television and cable advertising campaigns.

But CoStar’s marketing campaign is only about TV — digital and social “are deeply woven into the launch and sustaining strategies for Apartments.com, including extensive investments in search and high-impact home page activations across CNN, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Yahoo and YouTube,” the company says.