5 Years on the Air for the Public Awareness Campaign

Putting consumers in a REALTOR® state of mind

November 1, 2002

The last time the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Board of Directors met in New Orleans, in 1997, the directors voted to fund the association’s first national advertising campaign—dubbed the Public Awareness Campaign because of its aim to increase consumers’ awareness of your vital role in the real estate transaction.

Spots began popping up on TV screens in 1998 during morning and evening news shows. Since then, the spots have been seen or heard an aggregate of 9.7 million times by consumers. Over its five-year life, the campaign has expanded, with more on-air spots, a new theme, and—for the first time in 2002—prime-time placement. The 2002 program reached 95 percent of the target audience, adults age 25–54, or more than 103 million people.

With NAR returning to New Orleans this month for its annual conference, REALTOR® Magazine decided it was time for a check-up: Just where has five years of advertising put you in the minds of the homebuying and homeselling public?

In a good place, according to an independent research firm that tracks consumer attitudes on NAR’s behalf. Today, consumers are more aware—and more likely to use—your services than ever before. They’re also more likely now than in the past to see you as a professional.

“Consumer response is the most important measure of the advertising program’s effectiveness,” says 2002 Communications Committee Chair Laura Shifrin, CIPS, CRB,broker-owner of Townsend Center Realty in Townsend, Mass. “But it’s essential that we satisfy the needs of members as well.”

Consequently, each year, members are surveyed about the program. Awareness of the advertising among REALTORS® has risen from 48 percent in 1998 to 87 percent in 2001. And the percentage rating the program extremely favorably has increased from 56 percent in 1998 to 97 percent in the most recent study.

The campaign, which runs through 2004, is funded by a $20 per year assessment per member.

“In 2000 we began to see a major shift in consumer behavior toward a new, more collaborative style of working with REALTORS® and other professionals,” Shifrin says.

Consumer and member research convinced NAR directors to approve a shift in creative strategy. New spots this year carried the theme “Work with someone who will work with you” and showed practitioners and consumers working side by side. Other spots focused on the power of REALTORS®’ involvement in their communities.

Also new in 2002: radio and television ads supporting members who work in commercial real estate. And 2002 marked the campaign’s first foray into popular prime-time programming, such as “West Wing,” “Law and Order,” and “60 Minutes.”

Such broadened reach is key in today’s environment, says Shifrin. “In these times of economic and corporate uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to deepen consumer conviction about the central role REALTORS® play and the high value they bring to the real estate transaction.”

Consciousness raising

Over the life of the Public Awareness Campaign, NAR has used an independent research firm to track consumers’ recall of the campaign and their opinions about using a REALTOR®. The research shows an increase in the percentage of consumers who say

  2001 1998
I’d work with a REALTOR® to buy a home. 63% 47%
I’d work with a REALTOR® to sell a home. 69% 47%
REALTORS® are professional. 55% 43%
REALTORS® will get you the best sales price. 48% 26%
REALTORS® work hard for their clients. 43% 23%

Source: NAR

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