I’m pleased to report that this summer the CENTURY 21® brand celebrated a fourth consecutive win during this year’s advertising awards season collecting a Gold Andy Award, Gold and Silver One Show Pencils and the People’s Choice Award at the Webby Awards for innovative social creative content. These are some of the most prestigious awards ever achieved by the iconic real estate brand for its marketing efforts.
For the past year, the social media team has been focused on maintaining the brand’s position as the number one most-trafficked real estate franchise website and providing unique social content that drives conversations and engagement opportunities for CENTURY 21 affiliated brokers and agents.
A major part of our strategy was to grab the attention of industry and the consumer by matching our content strategy with our tag line: “SMARTER. BOLDER. FASTER.® Having come from the PR industry and now fully dedicated to driving lead generation, traffic and brand preference initiatives on the digital team, I’ve seen the evolution of the media environment first-hand. Generating a news headline in a mass media publication like the NY Times used to be an achievement that would linger for a few weeks, maybe even a month. No longer the case. Today’s media environment demands constant digital production across multiple channels to fuel inbound marketing opportunities, engage with various target audiences and support SEO efforts.
So, for aspiring public relations professionals…campaigns that take 30 days to plan and execute for one week’s worth (if it is a major campaign) of coverage across mass media, its time to change your mental model of what PR is in the year 2014. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing like the Super Bowl to drive publicity, but there are only so many Super Bowls. So, if you are not sponsoring a major event every day, what are you going to do to inspire your fans, consumers, sales force, and other stakeholders on a daily basis?
In 2013 in conjunction with Eric Montague and Tim Cawley we executed a concept called “Drumbeat.” The essence of the new reality of digital marketing is that you must produce high-quality, low-cost digital creative to feed the beast, which is no longer just mass media, but all digital / social media.
How is the team doing it? By creating shareable social media moments to be seen far and wide, via a mix of content – photos, memes and videos – across the brand’s most popular social channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.
This form of marketing is not for the feint of heart. I can tell you the journey from the beginning of this new way of thinking about corporate marketing was not an easy one. Creating “co-collaborators” within a complex corporate matrix takes time and patience. Legal and leadership have to know and feel comfortable that you are doing everything by the book and they have to buy-in to the concept, as expedited reviews are a major element in creating topical campaigns that leverage the news cycle. Patience, persistence and just the right amount of moxie, or as Cawley describes it, “This is creative for the speed of the Internet. Topical event. Have and idea. Produce it. Socialize it. Collect hardward at next year’s creative shows. Done. Well, actually not done, as you have to do it again next week and the week after. This is the new timetable for creative. Get used to it. No time and no money no longer mean bad work.”
Throughout the past year, the brand has generated real-time social campaigns celebrating the following:
- U.S. Soccer Victory Dance – a video victory dance celebrating each time the U.S. Soccer team scores a goal in the World Cup
- Lawn Invasion – A group of lawn ornaments “Fears the Sign” as their neighborhood friends disappear as the CENTURY 21® SOLD sign goes up in the yards around their homes
- Easter – something for the littlest ones in the family, a video with footage of the “real” Easter Bunny outside a CENTURY 21 listing
- Valentine’s Day – a little Barry White spirit with love poem videos to set the mood
- New Years Day – the launch of the first ever National Stay at Home Day with the help of brand partners Dish and Snuggie
- Holiday Season – a video series featuring Gingerbread real estate agents selling Gingerbread homes
- Thanksgiving – a custom rock song for Turkey Day, aptly titled, the Tryptophan Slow Jam. Not only is it a 60’s style throwback, but the tune will remain stuck in your head for days
- Halloween – a series of haunted house videos with the tagline, “Slightly haunted? Yeah, we could sell that.”
- The Series Finale of Breaking Bad – a phony listing of Walter White’s house on Craigslist, chockfull of insider show references, as well as a phone number with a voicemail that asked callers to share their thoughts on the finale
- The Royal Baby – a Facebook post welcoming baby George, and their need to upgrade to a bigger place
The payoff…a very proud CMO!
“I am very proud of the recognition this work has received,” added Thorne. “However, we are not sitting back as we enter the peak months of the 2014 home buying and selling season. The brand is as committed as ever to putting CENTURY 21 affiliated real estate professionals front and center with consumers in more unexpected, clever and highly sharable ways!”
Oh, and before I forget…the most important thing of all. I am humbled and honored to have played a small role in creating a new space for creative minds to flourish and innovate. The trophies ain’t bad either!