How Angie’s List Is Staying Relevant in an Era When Review Sites Are a Dime a Dozen

New campaign goes beyond the usual contractors

Angie's List has been going through some changes, but the presence of co-founder Angie Hicks in the site's advertising remains a constant.

Hicks, a campaign fixture for two decades, appears front and center this week in Arnold Worldwide's first work for the site. The "Home Is Where Our Heart Is" campaign alerts consumers that they can find all things for their homes on the site, rather than just crowdsourced reviews on the topic. Angie's List aims to be the go-to destination for consumers seeking service providers and contractors.

Hicks delivers an on-screen pitch at the start of each ad, then narrates brief vignettes about the foibles of home maintenance.

Feathers fly in the spot below, which focuses on selecting dog-walking services:

Next, G-rated bathroom humor drives an ad about finding plumbing professionals:

Arnold executive creative directors David Register and Wade Devers co-directed the spots, working through Arnold's in-house production unit, Studio 6. The opening scenes were shot in the hallways of the client's Indianapolis headquarters.

The work marks the first phase of an integrated campaign that includes more videos, as well as digital, social and experiential activations. In a broader sense, Angie's List is seeking to add another dimension to its brand beyond the crowdsourced contractor reviews for which it is best known. (Those evaluations aren't even mentioned in the new ads). 

"This campaign represents a significant step forward," Arnold managing partner Don Lane told Adweek. "Angie's List offers so much more than reviews, which have become table stakes. They created the category and remain the gold standard in home services, so we are presenting the brand as being uniquely qualified to help people protect the thing that matters most: home."

"Home Is Where Our Heart Is" drops as Angie's List finds itself struggling against heightened competition from sundry rivals ranging from and Kudzu to Yelp. To broaden its appeal, the venerable site is scrapping its membership model in favor of a tiered subscription plan.

For the 2015 fiscal year, Angie's List recorded the first profitable year in company history, though its fourth-quarter earnings missed Wall Street projections, and year-over-year membership revenue for the period dipped 8 percent.

Through the new ads, the company hopes to build momentum and perhaps position itself as a more attractive acquisition target—one able to command a higher purchase price. Last November, the company rejected a $512 million buyout bid from Barry Diller's IAC/Interactive Group.

Arnold is also seeking traction. The Havas-owned agency has lost some luster in recent years, along with clients like the University of Phoenix.

Before adding Angie's List, Arnold's most recent noteworthy new-business score was the National Association of Realtors, which tapped the agency last summer. Arnold debuted its first work for NAR last month. That campaign spoofs American Gladiators-style physical-challenge game shows.

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