Playing The Advertising Field: Century 21’s Super Bowl Strategy

With an estimated 111 million U.S. viewers expected to watch this year’s Super Bowl, and many just as interested -or even more- in the ads than the game itself, there is only one real estate company capturing this highly attentive audience.

Century 21, the franchisor of the world’s largest real estate sales organization, is advertising in the Super Bowl for the very first time. The company’s 30-second spot in the third quarter of the game, along with 3 pre-game commercials featuring Deion Sanders (jersey number 21, coincidentally), Donald Trump and Apolo Anton Ohno are a continuation of its new “Smarter, Bolder, Faster” campaign from agency Red Tettemer & Partners.

Building upon the Super Bowl’s hype, Century 21 will run its pre-game ads in 16 different time-slots playing throughout the day. These commercials and behind-the-scenes footage will also be featured on Century 21’s website and its customized application, “Big Game Ad” for Facebook, as well as its enhanced YouTube brand channel.

This is a huge move in today’s world of real estate marketing, as it has actually been 21 years -again, coincidentally- since any real estate company has advertised in the Super Bowl. Naturally, such a big advertising decisions raises several questions about strategy, brand direction and projected results from this significant budget allocation.

In an interview with Forbes, Century 21’s Chief Marketing Officer, Bev Thorne reveals why the company is running the Super Bowl ad, how it made sense for the brand, and what sort of payback she expects to get from the reportedly $3.5 million price tag.

What was the rationale for deciding very early on to advertise in this year’s Super Bowl?

At that point in time we viewed the timing of the Super Bowl as perfect for a couple of reasons: It was our 40th anniversary mid-year 2011, and we felt this was a perfect tail-end celebration. It is also the jump-start to the spring selling season.

It was a terrific opportunity for us to not only speak to consumers but also energize the sales professionals that represent the Century 21 brand. For us it was a great opportunity to share with the world our confidence with our real estate professionals, our confidence in the housing marketing and the dream of home ownership.

Wasn’t there any concern that the housing marketing could take an even bigger turn for the worse?

In its weakest forecast, I think you will find that most forecasts show there will be more than 4 million transactions this year. While that is nowhere near a high, it is still a significant number. Also realize that for those 4 million transactions, this is an extremely important financial transaction and an emotional transaction. So we think for many this is a generational opportunity to purchase a home.

Advertising in the Super Bowl is an expensive proposition.

It is expensive, but we think our agents are worth it and our objective is for those people who are appropriate…we want them to be familiar and aware of the capabilities of the Century 21 agent. [Forbes]

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