Dissecting a bad ad

You know what really grinds my gears? Bad advertising. And I don’t mean the so-bad-it’s-kinda-good stuff (I love that stuff), I mean the high-production-value-but-completely-misses-the-mark stuff.

Case in point: “RAID”, from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). I get angry every time it comes on.

Yeah, a SWAT team raiding our house a few days after we moved in, because they're confused and thought the previous owners, who apparently are part of an organized crime cartel, still lived here...despite the fact that they clearly must've seen, during their course of planning and careful observation, a "For Sale" sign, followed by a "Sold" sign, followed by at least two sets of moving trucks. Yeah, plausible!

Yeah, a SWAT team raiding our house a few days after we moved in, because they’re confused and thought the previous owners, who apparently are part of an organized crime cartel, still lived here…despite the fact that they clearly must’ve seen, during their course of planning and careful observation, a “For Sale” sign, followed by a “Sold” sign, followed by at least two sets of moving trucks. Yeah, plausible!

This ad obviously cost quite a bit to produce, and it’s been playing frequently up here in Canada, on a range of channels…but I just think it’s a terrible ad, for a number of reasons:

  • The premise is absurd: The intended audience (i.e., home buyers) cannot relate to the content. There’s not a single person who has viewed this ad who thought, “Oh my, that could be me!” So we dismiss the ad out of turn. When buying a home, no one’s going to think, “Waaaait, what if the police force is so incompetent that they launch a full-blown SWAT raid on the house just after we’ve moved in!!”
  • It’s pure FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt): I hate FUD. I compete against FUD all the time, and I take great satisfaction in taking FUD down by using concrete, indisputable, objective fact. FUD says to the world “My product doesn’t stand on its own merits, so I’m going to try to poop on someone else’s and hope that you don’t realize I’m using the classic art of misdirection.”
  • It’s pathetic: This ad absolutely reeks of desperation. It doesn’t make me want to work with a realtor, it makes me pity them. I have friends who are realtors, and I’m actually curious what their take is on this ad.

Look, I get it, realtors are facing competition from sell-it-yourself services and, well, the Internet. Welcome to the connected age! But is responding with a FUD campaign (and all the other ads that are part of the same campaign are in a similar absurd-premise-intended-to-instill-fear vein) really the best tactic?

Surely there are positive aspects to working with a realtor, and you could focus on those?

  • Get a real-life young couple on an ad, to talk about how great the agent was in helping them find their first home
  • Get a real-life corporate couple on an ad, to talk about how they’re just too busy to deal with all the paperwork, hosting open houses, etc. that come with buying or selling a home
  • Get a real-life family with a bunch of kids, to talk about how in their hectic (but fulfilling!) life they value services that can simplify
  • Get some real-life single people…I’m sure there are reasons why they’d work with realtors
  • And importantly, do some homework and get some stats, and abandon the seemingly baseless attack-ad fear-mongering: Maybe houses listed with realtors sell in meaningfully less time? Great, find a couple who had to move quickly due to a work opportunity or family commitment and have them talk about how the realtor reduced their stress. Maybe home sales through realtors lead to fewer post-closing legal cases? Flash that stat up, instead of just trying to scare people with fiction.

The CREA needs to accept the reality that a realtor is not the right route for everyone. You can’t fight reality, and you waste your time and resources trying to do so. Once you’ve accepted this, then figure out the demographics and characteristics of the markets for whom a realtor is a great option. Then craft positive messages to appeal to this market. Then make damn sure you get that message in front of them.

The CREA homepage lists a number of benefits to working with a realtor; that’s a start, but it’s not enough. In the Internet age, people need supporting facts. We’re a very skeptical bunch, and fluffy claims just don’t carry any weight, because we can easily discover the truth. Aggressive, nimble alternatives will run around fluffy claims all day long.

Finally, while you’re doing your research to figure out why people do or don’t use realtors, see if there are any changes to your own procedures or any new services you can offer that will help you get some of that other demographic back. If research says, “Well, realtor commissions are too high”, then maybe a lightweight service with lower commission will win those folks back.

</rant>

In the Internet age, people need supporting facts. We’re a very skeptical bunch, and fluffy claims just don’t carry any weight.

Tagged with: , , , , ,
Posted in Advertising, Marketing

What do *you* think?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address and get posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Archives
%d bloggers like this: