MLS & Associations

NAR taps creators of Progressive’s ‘Flo’ to reach millennial clients

Ads from Arnold Worldwide will likely be released to public in 4Q

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Takeaways:

  • NAR has hired a new ad agency to boost the Realtor brand among millennials.
  • NAR members pay $35 per year for the trade group’s consumer advertising campaign, in addition to their national dues.
  • There’s no word yet on whether the new agency will try to teach millennials the difference between an agent who is a Realtor and one who is not.

The National Association of Realtors has hired a new advertising agency to help tout the virtues of its 1 million members to the largest generation in history: millennials.

Millennials are between 18 and 34 this year — an age range when people are most likely to buy their first home. The typical first-time homebuyer was 31 in 2014, according to NAR.

By contrast, the median age of a Realtor is 57.

Boston-based ad agency Arnold Worldwide beat out 17 other firms to help NAR bridge that age gap and show millennials the value of a Realtor. The agency is known for its Progressive insurance campaign featuring “Flo,” plus campaigns for Jack Daniel’s and Carnival cruise line.

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“Arnold’s understanding of the millennial segment, coupled with their ideas on how to position the value of Realtors in a marketplace that is heavily influenced by digital technology, algorithms and electronic matchmaking, was impressive,” said NAR President Chris Polychron in a statement.

“We are excited to be partnering with them to communicate Realtor brand value into the future, engage consumers in bold new ways and drive increased value for NAR among its members.”

NAR members each pay $35 per year toward the trade group’s consumer advertising campaign ($35 million total) in addition to $120 in national dues.

“We want to make sure that, when consumers think about real estate, they think Realtor,” NAR spokeswoman Sara Wiskerchen said in an email.

“We think a Realtor’s expertise and experience bring great value to buyers, sellers and investors, and want consumers to know that they have real insights and unparalleled market knowledge.”

She declined to comment on whether the campaign would try to clarify the difference between agents who are Realtors and agents who are not — a distinction many of NAR’s members believe the trade group has failed to teach the public at large.

“We really can’t say, since at this time the strategy is in the very earliest stages of development,” and the contract was only signed last week, Wiskerchen said.

When asked whether NAR has data on whether consumers can tell the difference between an agent who is a Realtor and an agent who isn’t, she said, “[T]he only data we have is that Realtors conduct about 90 percent of all transaction sides.”

This is likely because active agents are choosing to be Realtors, Wiskerchen said, rather than because consumers specifically choose to work with Realtors.

NAR will no longer work with Most, the ad agency it had used for nearly two decades.

Ads from Arnold targeting millennials will likely be released to the public in the fourth quarter. The ad agency will provide NAR with market research and strategic advertising planning, develop creative work across media channels, and produce and execute go-to-market plans, Wiskerchen said.

The trade group is in the process of hiring a new media buying agency, so the final mix of ad platforms has yet to be determined, but could entail video, audio, mobile, social, TV, digital and radio, Wiskerchen said.

In a statement, Pam Hamlin, global president of Arnold Worldwide, said the company’s mission “is to demonstrate the competitive advantage a Realtor brings to the homebuying and selling process alongside new technologies.”

The ad agency may have its work cut out for it. NAR’s own research shows that 90 percent of millennials choose to use an agent when buying a home — a bigger share than any other generation — but they are least likely to use their agent again or recommend him or her to others.

In other words, the vast majority of millennials seem to have no problem using agents — but the agents aren’t living up to their expectations.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.