It's been 16 years since C.A.R. launched its first consumer advertising campaign aimed at home buyers and sellers reinforcing the value of using a REALTOR®. After focus groups revealed consumers' negative perception of real estate agents in the mid-1990s, C.A.R. launched the award-winning "Real Estate Is Our LifeTM" advertising blitz, which included magazine ads, radio spots, and television commercials.
The campaign was an immediate success, winning a "Telly Award" for its outstanding television commercials and significantly improving consumers' recognition of the difference between REALTORS® and licensees. Its broad appeal did not go unnoticed by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR), and in 1998, NAR's board of directors adopted the "Real Estate Is Our LifeTM" campaign as its own nationwide public awareness campaign.
As NAR rolled out television ads across the nation, C.A.R. continued to leverage the campaign's momentum, expanding efforts in California to target Hispanic home buyers and sellers. In 1999, C.A.R. translated several of the "Real Estate Is Our LifeTM" television commercials into Spanish, and they subsequently appeared on Spanish-language UNIVISION station affiliates throughout the state. Additionally, Spanish versions of the campaign's magazine ads and radio spots were made available for local associations to run in their own communities.
Also in 1999, C.A.R. launched a new online component to its campaign, placing more than eight million banners on the Web to help reach the state's web-savvy consumers and drive traffic to the Association's "California Living Network" (http://ca.realtor.com) website.
In 2003, C.A.R. refreshed its consumer advertising efforts with a new message: "REALTOR®--The Most Important Title in Real Estate." Through humorous radio commercials, the $1.4 Million radio campaign emphasized that consumers have a choice when selecting an agent to represent them when they're buying or selling a home, that REALTORS® subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics, and that consumers are more likely to get results when working with a California REALTOR®.
Results from a post-campaign survey measuring consumers' receptivity to the "REALTOR®--The Most Important Title in Real Estate" campaign and their attitude toward REALTORS® recorded the first appreciable, significant improvement in recall of and appreciation for the REALTOR® designation in the 12 years C.A.R. had conducted consumer market research. The success of the "REALTOR®--The Most Important Title in Real Estate" campaign continued through 2005 and 2006.
In 2008, the Association launched a bold, new theme for its consumer advertising campaign: "California REALTORS®. Your Peace of Mind." It was the Association's most expansive consumer advertising campaign since 1997 and included new radio commercials, online components, search engine marketing, and customizable collateral materials that members were able to use in their own marketing efforts. The theme was modified to “Your Piece of California. Your Peace of Mind” the following year and achieved substantial consumer recognition by the end of 2010.
In developing the direction for the 2011 consumer advertising campaign, C.A.R. recognized the increased challenges California consumers have faced for the past couple of years, and saw an opportunity to let consumers speak directly to consumers. The 2011 and 2012 campaigns showcased testimonials from real California home buyers who achieved their dreams of homeownership by working with REALTORS®. The theme “Champions of Home” reflects the nerve-calming aspects, the obstacle-busting qualities, and overall value that California REALTORS® offer buyers and sellers.
This year, the 2013 consumer advertising campaign builds on the successes established with the “California REALTORS®. Champions of Home,” theme of the previous two years, however a fresh new look and message will create awareness of the REALTOR® brand in in California and will demonstrate the many benefits of the consumer-REALTOR® relationship. This year’s campaign will use broadcast media to ramp up in core markets, and will rely heavily on digital components to provide statewide foundation.
The 2013 campaign boasts the most impressive reach to date, and may be seen and heard on TV, radio, online, and in the social media sphere. Television ads will run on ABC television stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, including airtime during the network’s award-winning show, “Modern Family.” Radio spots will dominate the Friday afternoon drive time with seven radio spots being broadcast in a three-hour “roadblock.” And contextual web banners placed on REALTOR.com® and local websites, such as abc7.com Los Angeles, abc7news.com San Francisco, 10news.com Sandiego, sacbee.com and latimes.com, will drive consumers to a microsite, www.championsofhome.com.
Social media and a robust digital presence will also play a role in providing visibility for the campaign. A focused blogger outreach plan, which collaborates with influential bloggers from the Clever Girls Blog Network, has the potential to reach 124.6 million. Contests on Pinterest and Instagram will encourage audiences to share messages tied to C.A.R.
Since 1997, when C.A.R. launched its first advertising campaign, consumer awareness of the REALTOR® brand and the need to use a REALTOR® has increased significantly. This year's new consumer advertising campaign will continue to build on past successes by communicating directly with consumers about the added value and peace of mind they receive by working with a REALTOR® when buying or selling a home.