The making of a television ad, Part 1: Developing a strategy

To mark the launch of CREA’s 2015 ad campaign, we’re pulling back the curtains a bit and giving members a look at how we got from a blank page to our latest ad, “MOTEL.”

Contrary to popular belief, ads aren’t born in a flash of inspiration from Don Draper’s head on Mad Men; they’re the product of strategy and insights, a structured creative process, research, and production. Over the next four weeks, we’ll see the role each step plays in the final product.

First we’ll look at strategy and insights. Before anyone can start writing an ad, they have to know why they’re writing it, and what they want to achieve. The strategy for both 2014’s “RAID” and this year’s “MOTEL” came from what we learned from years of research on every ad CREA produces.

All of our research showed that CREA ads were likeable and entertaining, but not all reinforced the value of using a REALTOR® to the same degree. Our 2012 ad “DIY FAMILY”, was a game changer on this front, as it successfully cut through the advertising clutter with its message about the pitfalls of not using a REALTOR®. And cutting through the clutter is hard. Television is a “lean out” medium, meaning when the television is on, people sit back and do other things while watching. They only “lean in” and pay attention when something is out of the ordinary and grabs their attention.

We’ve learned in other research that when it comes to buying and selling a home, consumers don’t know what they don’t know. There is so much they don’t understand and so many things a REALTOR® does that go unseen. So to educate consumers about the specific, positive value of a REALTOR®, we need a single-minded, engaging, compelling message that speaks to the things consumers don’t know.

Our 2014 ad, “RAID” validated the strategy with an identical double digits increases in consumers’ likelihood to use a REALTOR® for buying and selling. We also noticed something very interesting: although “RAID” didn’t mention any specific services a REALTOR® provides, knowledge of the specific services a REALTOR® provides increased. In other words, even without being explicitly told, consumers connected the dots and deduced what expertise a REALTOR® brings to a transaction. “RAID”’s results also reinforced the importance of engagement and entertainment to get consumers to “lean in”. Quite simply, “RAID”‘s cinematic look and hyperbolic situation kept viewers interested until the very end.

Armed with this knowledge, we had our strategy for 2015: Demonstrate the importance of using a REALTOR® by showing what could happen without one. We also knew entertainment and hyperbole were key and that the specifics of a REALTOR®’s role were not essential for persuading consumers.

Now we just needed some ads. Come back next week to learn about the creative process, from creation to selection.

Bill Briggs is the former Regional Director for Alberta on the CREA Board of Directors. Bill has been a REALTOR® since 1985 and a Director since 1998. In 2004, Bill served as President of the Edmonton Real Estate Board (EREB), and in 2009 he was President of the Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA). In 2007 Bill was presented the prestigious REALTOR® of the Year Award by the Edmonton Real Estate Board. Prior to becoming a REALTOR®, he served as President of both the Greater Edmonton Home Builders Association and the Alberta Home Builders Association. Bill has been a life member of EREB since 2006.


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