Home's Best Friend: 5 Questions with Coldwell Banker CMO Sean Blankenship

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Home's Best Friend: 5 Questions with Coldwell Banker CMO Sean Blankenship

Posted by Dale Buss on February 11, 2015 09:30 AM

As Super Bowl advertising has proven, TV viewers are drawn to ads featuring dogs—especially cute, little puppies. Fully aware of this trend, Coldwell Banker Real Estate will be showcasing man's best friends during the 87th Academy Awards broadcast on ABC on Sunday, February 22.

The brand's spots that will be unveiled during the Oscars will feature rescue dogs welcoming their "pet parents" home. At the same time, the brand will announce its first-ever "Homes for Dogs Project" to find families for 20,000 adoptable dogs, in partnership with Adopt-a-Pet.com.

Besides helping out the pooches, Coldwell Banker's goal is to make emotional connections with American home-owners and buyers, to differentiate itself from rivals that concentrate on the nuts and bolts of the home-buying process.

Without a doubt, the ad will resonate with the many millions of Americans who already own dogs, featuring as it does the "waiting game" that their pets perform as they eagerly anticipate the arrival home of their masters.

Coldwell Banker chief marketing officer Sean Blankenship elaborated on the campaign's strategy, creative and goals in a chat with brandchannel.

bc: How does encouraging people to adopt dogs fit into Coldwell Banker's broader brand themes?

Sean Blankenship: We have a completely integrated campaign leading up to the Oscars on February 22. There's lots of revving up going on. And in partnership with Adopt-a-Pet.com, we will both be providing a lot of content.

We're going to support the campaign on a special website with information about adopting pets, homes for pets, relationships with pets, and a call to action. The end goal is to find homes for 20,000 dogs.

Why this theme? As the industry leader, we're best suited to connect with consumers emotionally about the home. We started doing this four years ago.

Last year, we introduced "Home Sweet Home," an anthem about the emotions of coming home. From that, we looked at the idea of what is waiting for us at home. We decided on the home's "best friend."

This year, dogs fit into our core communications about the lifestyle aspects of home. It's a nice extension of what we've been doing.

bc: The housing market is on the rise. Why not tap more directly into that dynamic?

Blankenship: There are plenty of real estate brands that do the traditional agent-focused message, if you will. It's "Hire an agent—without an agent you won't be able to buy a home because it's too complicated."

In recent times we have felt—especially coming out of the 2008 recession—that there is more to buying a home than the rational side of it or just doing it as an investment. It's everything that we think about when we think of home, and it is very emotional.

That's the essence of our approach, and we feel that's a much better space for us. It's in all of our digital platforms, too—connecting with that wonderful feeling of home. It resonates.

We're the No. 1 brand when it comes to social engagement, according to Klout, and we're No. 1 per Nielsen in web traffic. We're finding it suits us and the tonality of our voice. We don't think the world needs another commercial with an agent beating their chest.

bc: Why choose the Oscars as the platform for this campaign?

Blankenship: We started three years ago with the Oscars. Our tonality and voice really fit with the Oscars and the conversation we like to have with consumers.

We also like event television, with people getting together and watching and enjoying the ads. If there's anything close to being DVR-proof, it's the Oscars.

On the other side of it, the Oscars are very social. We've trended on Twitter every year that we've done this, so the engagement we find in social spheres is tremendous. It feels good for the brand.

bc: Besides the ad, are you integrating other campaign elements with the Oscars?

Blankenship: We did some things with the red carpet last year, and this year we will try something we've never tried before: sending out a few employees to do some interviews [for online] on the red carpet. We'll have reporters on the street.

We're also talking with a local dog shelter about connecting to the campaign, because that's a big part of what we're trying to accomplish. We haven't quite fleshed that all out yet. But we want it all to have the quality feel we think it deserves. And it's not just a one-night event.

bc: Will we see dogs on the red carpet?

Blankenship: I don't think so—although that would be great! For the first time, however, we will have rescue dogs in our TV ads. Six dogs in the 60-second spot and four dogs in the 30-second spot were actually rescue dogs, and that was the kernel of the idea for the partnership.

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Jennifer Burr

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