Coldwell Banker Returns to Roots

NEW YORK The real estate market is in the dumps and foreclosures are at a record high. So Coldwell Banker is introducing its founders as pitchmen in a new humorous campaign.

TV spots, via Havas’ McKinney, will use reproductions of oil portraits of Colbert Coldwell and Benjamin Banker, who co-founded the company in 1906. (Baker died in 1965, Coldwell in 1967.) The pair banter about the merits of Coldwell services. In one, Banker reminds Coldwell that he invented the “rapid response system” in which clients can be contacted within minutes of an inquiry. “You invented it?” Coldwell responds dubiously. “Right after I invented the Internet,” Banker says.

TV, which breaks this week, will run on cable, including CNN, Fox, Hallmark, A&E, HGTV and TVLand.

Support will include Web sponsorship at Frontdoor.com from HGTV and banner buys at search sites including Yahoo! and Google. All marketing communications will direct consumers to Coldwell’s Web site, where they can link to a microsite, founders.coldwellbanker.com. There, visitors can tour the offices of Coldwell Banker, play the vintage video game Pong with Coldwell and Banker, or engage the painted pictures of the founders in a staring contest. The two will also show up on social networking sites Facebook and MySpace.

Spending was not revealed. Coldwell Banker, Parsippany, N.J., spent $120 million on media in 2007 and $165 million in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

“Real estate is now part of the entertainment process with channels like HGTV,” said Charlie Young, COO at Coldwell. “And real estate is a very serious thing as well. But I think we have to separate what is going on in the market right now from an economic standpoint from this shift in what the customer needs.”