Ever wonder what kinds of commercials you can get with a seven-figure advertising budget? 

This week on The Real Word, Byron Lazine and Nicole White discussed a couple of TV commercials the National Association of Realtors® released as part of its full consumer ad campaign. 

If you’ve seen our article covering what NAR is paying its executives and independent contractors, you know it spends upwards of $45 million a year on its marketing and advertising. 

So, when NAR sent out an email last Friday hyping up its new ad campaign, designed presumably to convince consumers that real estate agents—or Realtors, to be specific—are worth the investment, we were eager to check them out and share the highlights. 

Byron and Nicole played two commercials during the episode and shared their honest, off-the-cuff reactions. We’ll share some highlights here, but don’t miss the replay! 

The timing could be better

NAR announced its new TV ad campaign not long after they confirmed rumors that the national trade association has run out of insurance money for antitrust commission lawsuits. 

The campaign is also going live after NAR lost in the Sitzer/Burnett trial and is now looking at damages in excess of $5 billion.

Turns out, that hasn’t affected NAR’s marketing budget, though. Phew! 

This ad campaign may be NAR’s way of saying, “We’re not giving up. We still bring tons of value, and we want all you Realtors—our paying members—to know that we’ve got you.” 

After watching the commercials for their campaign, though, maybe it’s time someone told NAR leadership there are better ways to send that message than to spend millions on depressingly subpar advertising. 

In fact, maybe it’s time to leave the marketing to those who know how to do it well—real estate agents who are continually honing their marketing skills and learning on a daily basis what works and what does not. 

Meanwhile, NAR can focus instead on the things Realtors need them to do. 

You know what, the best agent agents, the best real estate professionals, are great marketers. Because it’s their job. Why don’t you leave marketing to consumers to the people that are great at it. And if you suck at it, which you clearly do, why don’t you do the one thing that you’ve been good at—in the past but not as of late—which is lobby, which is stand up for the rights of consumers in Washington, D.C. and in the courtrooms.

Byron Lazine

NAR’s email to its members

Byron shared the email sent by NAR to its members last Friday (March 1st, 2024), reading and reacting to it during the episode

NAR’s consumer ad campaign for 2024 takes a consumer-first approach in demonstrating REALTOR® value and the many ways REALTORS® put their expertise into action as they help clients navigate the complexities and nuances of the property buying or selling process. 

The campaign is supported with a robust media plan, weighted strategically to reach consumers at the right time with the right message. Ads will also run during high visibility sport tentpole events, reaching those live streaming the upcoming March Madness tournament and this summer our ads will play on both the radio and digitally during Olympic game highlights. Below are some upcoming dates and programming where you may see the TV ads:

    • 3/1: House Hunters, HGTV, 10P EST
    • 3/1: Shark Tank, ABC, 8P EST
    • 3/3: Live NBA Games on ABC and ESPN — New York Knicks @ Cleveland Cavaliers & Oklahoma City Thunder @ Phoenix Suns
    • 3/4: Spring Baking Championship, Food Network, 8P EST
    • 3/5: Shogun, FX, 10P EST  
    • 3/8: Shark Tank, ABC, 8P EST
    • 3/10 Live NBA Games on ABC and ESPN — Brooklyn Nets @ Cleveland Cavaliers

Programming dates/times are subject to change based on media availability.

In addition to paid advertising, the campaign also reaches consumers through NAR’s First Time Buyer show on Hulu, which just launched its 4th season, the REAL Estate Today radio show and podcast, and NAR’s HouseLogic website which provides homeowners with information and resources on how to protect their investment. As a member, you can also utilize these resources.

Visit ThatsWhoWeR.realtor to see and hear the new consumer campaign ads, and to leverage turnkey advertising and social assets highlighting REALTOR® value to share with your constituencies, and use NAR’s free Photofy app for a library of social assets you can easily personalize and post.

Thank you for your continued support.

Suzanne Bouhia
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

REALTOR®, Nicola Esposito
2024 Chair, Consumer Communications Committee

Byron and Nicole then watched two of NAR’s new commercials, which we’ll briefly describe here. Watch the full episode to hear their full, unfiltered reactions. 

Commercial #1: “The Process”

The first commercial shows a Realtor sitting down with a couple and discussing their situation as first-time homebuyers. The couple is expecting their first child and feeling overwhelmed by the process of buying a home—on top of other life changes on the way. 

The agent senses this and empathizes with them. 

“I know this can all be overwhelming. But everything is in the email I sent you the other day…”

So, they look at each other with expressions that clearly say, “Did you read the email?

“And if you haven’t looked at it yet, let’s go through it together.” 

Because of course they didn’t read a long email crammed full of details on the homebuying process. They’re already feeling bombarded by information on all the things they’re dealing with right now. Try watching a Lamaze video and then reading an email from a real estate agent on the homebuying process. 

But hey, no worries! Because the agent is there willing to read through it with them and answer any questions they have. Sounds…slightly less overwhelming, right?

After all, the couple seems relieved. They’re not at the point yet where everything makes sense, but they’re glad the agent is there to demystify the process. 

The overall message is: If you’ve got a skilled Realtor helping you, you’ve got the best possible guide through this process. Get ready for the best possible results!

With so many copycat commission lawsuits popping up, it makes sense to want to show consumers the value skilled and competent buyer agents bring to the process, especially with some folks out there arguing that a fair commission rate for buy-side Realtors would be 0%. 

But are commercials like this one really an effective way to show the buyer agent’s value? 

Commercial #2: Quick Video Tour

The second video shows a family bustling around in the kitchen when their agent calls to tell them: 

“Hey, good news! A house just popped up on the MLS. Do you have time for a quick video tour?”

And of course, as the viewer can see, it is not, in fact, a good time for a video tour. The agent then responds: 

“No worries. I’ll send you a video walkthrough and we can go through it when …We can talk through a timeline of next steps as well…” 

The message is clear: A good buyer’s agent is always out there working for their client. They know what the client needs and wants in a new home and how to pivot and deliver value in a way that meets the client where they are…except when they keep talking about the house when it’s clearly not a good time for their client to talk on the phone. 

The overall messaging is pretty much what a viewer would expect from an organization that exists to support real estate professionals and promote their services. But will it convince any consumers (who aren’t already inclined) to hire a Realtor when they’re ready to buy a home?

That’s the question Byron asked after watching this commercial. And unfortunately, as Gary Vee has pointed out for years, you don’t typically get any data on whether a TV ad is actually converting. 

At least with social, you can see what works. You can test what works. You get something that really does capture attention and conversation and link-clicks to some other download or some other CTA. Then you can put money behind that, once you’ve proven that, organically, it’s got some benefit.

Byron Lazine

These commercial spots are not cheap, after all. And if NAR is spending tens of millions of dollars on these ads, how will they know whether they’re getting a return on their ad spend?

More to the point, how will NAR’s marketing department know whether this new ad campaign is converting in a way that actually helps NAR members—particularly those whose livelihoods are most in danger right now?

It’s not quitting to play to your strengths

No one’s saying NAR can’t get better at TV commercials. But as mentioned earlier, it’s tough to gauge how effective a TV ad is when it comes to conversion. 

How will NAR’s marketing heads know how many people are watching these ads and giving them a second thought, let alone deciding to hire an agent after watching them. 

At least with lobbying, NAR can see the impact (or lack thereof) of their efforts in Washington, particularly with newly-minted politicians. 

But it may be time for NAR to reconsider its marketing spend or the ad agency behind these commercials, not to mention its Hulu series. After Sitzer/Burnett, it’s safe to say it wouldn’t be the first time the trade organization put their money behind the wrong team. 

I guess where I’m disappointed—in watching the two commercials they’ve put out—I feel like they’re almost confirming what everybody thinks that we are: door openers. She’s essentially opening the door… She’s calling this guy out of the blue, making him have to take this video tour while his kids are screaming and yelling in the kitchen. It’s at a totally inconvenient time…and then in the email [commercial], she’s essentially saying ‘All the information is in the email. Didn’t you get my email? It’s all in the email…Okay, how ‘bout we open the email and read the email.’ I feel like that could have been a drinking game.

Nicole White

Commercials have got to be entertaining. What’s more entertaining, the Homes.com commercials or these NAR commercials?

Byron Lazine

Watch the full episode to hear Byron’s and Nicole’s responses to the NAR commercials, along with their reviews of the Connecticut Realtors (embarrassing) Super Bowl ad. 

Then compare those reactions to their thoughts on Homes.com’s Super Bowl commercials