Real Estate Ads Play ‘The Home Is Where The Heart Is’ Card


Real estate advertising is usually straightforward—simple print ads consisting of a photo of the property for sale and listing information at the bottom of the page, often accompanied by a head shot of the agent. Ads have mostly been purely informational, not seeking to manipulate the consumer in the way those for many other products are intended to do.

Recently, however, both Corcoran and Bespoke real estate in Water Mill have tried to direct their marketing efforts toward enhancing the emotional connection between viewer and property. As agents, “we used to try to leverage our youth and our looks,” said Cody Vichinsky of Bespoke, who, along with his brother Zachary, worked for Corcoran for a combined eight years. “Now it’s less about us—it’s about trying to create an emotional connection to the house.”

Take Bespoke’s new marketing videos, which they produce in-house. The videos are meant to advertise not just the property, but the area and the “feel of the area.” Working to that end are shots like the following:

Slow, nostalgic piano music plays in the background. Each shot changes as a piano key is struck. Wind blows through a field of winter wheat as the sun hangs low in the sky. In slow motion, two children walk in shallow water, creating delicate ripples against the sun’s harsh reflection. On top of the trunk, the camera follows a Porsche convertible as it enters the driveway. A horse, bathed in soft light, grazes in a field. A young girl takes a bite of a marshmallow. A woman executes a perfect Downward Dog. A man cranks down a country road on his racing bike. A sparkler fizzes out in a child’s hand. Stars cross the night sky above a house as time lapses.

Meanwhile, over at Corcoran, a “Live Who Your Are” campaign aims for a similar emotional appeal.

“Back when we launched it, our goal was to touch on the over-arching emotional aspect of buying a home,” said Christina Lowris-Panos, the chief marketing officer for Corcoran, of the campaign, which was started in 2006. The most recent print ad iteration features 12 portraits taken by Annie Leibovitz, who is arguably the most renowned portrait photographer of all time.

“This is the first time we used real people in the portraits,” said Ms. Lowris-Panos. To enhance the reality of the ads, Corcoran tried to select people who were well-known but not overexposed, according to Ms. Lowris-Panos.

“This is the first time we’ve combined a campaign with social marketing,” she added. People who see the ads are invited to participate through various social media avenues by showing “how they live,” through photos and brief descriptions that are in keeping with the tone of Leibovitz’s portraits.

The single-page ads depict notable homeowners from each of the markets that Corcoran covers: Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Hamptons and Palm Beach. Three of the full-color ads depict East Enders in their respective homes in Southampton, Sagaponack and Montauk.

For a better understanding of what Corcoran’s going for, here is the copy that accompanies the photos:

“For professional surfer Quincy Davis, home is where you hang your board. At Corcoran, we’ve learned to recognize the things that make your heart beat faster. Because only by understanding your deepest passions can we find a place to set them free.”

“For acclaimed restaurateurs Francesca and Hans Pauli, great taste starts at home,” reads another. “At Corcoran, we use our expertise to find exactly the kind of place you have an appetite for. Because only by discovering who you are can we find you a place that’s a feast for the eyes.”

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