Elizabeth Banks is everything that ads for online real estate sites are typically not—perky, lighthearted and deadpan funny. And that's precisely why she stars in Pereira & O'Dell's new campaign for Realtor.com.
Realtor, under new owner News Corp., wants to enliven a category defined by heartstrings and homespun stories, and in the process, stand out and gain share. In its largest campaign to date, the brand is playing up the laughs in ads that break this week. Fred Savage, the actor and former star of The Wonder Years, directed the campaign through Uber Content.
The tagline: "Real estate in real time."
Banks, a key supporting actress in films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, brings her A-game, in both performance and volume. During a four-day shoot, she delivered eight TV ads and five Web videos, sticking mostly to the scripts but improvising as well, said Dave Arnold, chief creative officer at Pereira & O'Dell in New York.
Two ads have rolled out online so far. Banks serves up brand messages with a smile, even while, for example, playfully trumpeting a nerdy guy named Jim, who through Realtor becomes a "phenom of fresh listings."
In "Constant Change," she manages to find humor in Realtor's app, which you wouldn't expect to be comedy gold.
Andrew Strickman, head of brand and chief creative for Move, the parent company of Realtor that News Corp. acquired, described Banks as friendly and relatable, adding, "This campaign is really about Elizabeth playing a real-estate-obsessed version of herself." Arnold further described her performance as "having fun with it in a way that doesn't make her a shill."
And as for his expectations for the campaign, which will run throughout the year, Strickman said: "The strength of your business can be won or lost on the strength of your brand. And that means the quality of how you present your brand creatively, as well as from the position of intellect, is really, really important."
Based on Web traffic, Realtor is the No. 2 site behind Zillow, which last summer moved to acquire Trulia, another key player in the space. The category has been a hotbed of M&A activity, and now that the brands have settled, marketing should be a key differentiator. Also, under its new ownership, Realtor is expected to increase its media spending.
Strickman declined to reveal the media budget for the campaign, but sources estimated that it would exceed $30 million this year. That would be roughly twice as much as last year, when Realtor spent more than $16 million, according to Kantar Media.
Title: "Real Estate in Real Time"
Agency: Pereira & O'Dell, New York
Executive Creative Director: Dave Arnold
Associate Creative Directors: Jake Dubs, Alexei Beltrone
Copywriter: Michelle Lamont
Art Director: Alex Parodi
Head of Production, New York: Tennille Teague
Producer: Montea Robinson
Managing Director: Cory Berger
Account Director: Annika Roden
Account Supervisor: Jessica Williams
Associate Strategy Director: Mike Lewis
Strategist: Anna Bedineishvili
Business Affairs Director: Russ Nadler
Production Company: Uber Content
Director: Fred Savage
Executive Producer: Preston Lee
Line Producer: Tom Lowe
Editing Company: Arcade
Editors: Jeff Ferruzzo, Dave Anderson, Ali Mao
Executive Producer: Sila Soyer
Producer: Lauren Cancelosi
Flame Artist: Tristian Wake
Color Company: Co 3
Colorist: Tom Poole
Audio Company: Heard City
Engineer: Keith Reynaud