The National Association of Realtors has put out the welcome mat for Arnold Worldwide, hiring the Boston-based agency to handle creative, digital, brand activation and strategy following a review led by consultancy Select Resources International.
The trade association, one of the nation's largest, with more than 1 million members, spent slightly less than $50 million on ads last year, and $14 million in the first quarter of 2015, per Kantar Media.
Arnold's selection marks a major shift for the client, which has worked with the incumbent, Most, an independent agency, for the better part of two decades. "Most participated in the pitch and made it to the final round," said NAR svp of communications Stephanie Singer, who praised the Aliso Viejo, Calif., shop for its commitment through the years. "The decision ultimately was not about the past quality of their work, only an interest in moving in a different direction."
To win the account, Arnold prevailed in a review that began in April with an initial list of 18 agencies. Media planning (with Most) and buying (handled by MDC's Assembly) are not part of the assignment. Those chores are now in play.
Like so many advertisers these days, NAR wishes to target millennials, and Arnold's prowess with that segment proved to be a key factor in its selection, said Singer. (The agency has fashioned digital and social appeals aimed at young adults for clients such as Jack Daniel's and Carnival Cruise Lines.)
Millennials are key because they have "grown up in the technology age, where the role of the Realtor has become diminished as the online search process has evolved," said agency global president Pam Hamlin. "Arnold is tasked with helping NAR reclaim the Realtor's role in the overall home-buying process, and to educate millennials on what a Realtor does and the value they can provide." (The group's current campaign, "Real People," targets consumers who are likely to be in the market to buy or sell a home in the next six to 12 months, and is heavily focused on TV and radio.)
Work for NAR will probably break in the fourth quarter, and Arnold plans to "target millennials through a truly integrated cross-channel campaign, which will center primarily on television and digital activations," said Hamlin.
Arnold svp, group account director Todd Sperry, CMO Lisa Unsworth and global chief creative officer Jim Elliott played important roles in the pitch. They will now oversee campaign development.
Arnold hopes to use the win—as well as its recent success as an incumbent in the Hershey's review—as a springboard for future wins. Most notably, Arnold is among seven shops pursuing Priceline's creative assignment.
"I believe that momentum breeds momentum," said Hamlin.