Does NAR's Real Estate TV Ad Go Too Far?

by Chicago Agent


NAR is coming under considerable fire for it’s “Moving Pictures” real estate TV ad, which suggests that children of homeowners are more confident and academically-inclined than those of renters.

By Peter Ricci

The National Association of Realtors’ new real estate TV ad is garnering quite a bit of attention in the real estate community, and not all of it good.

Titled “Moving Pictures,” the ad plays from the perspective of a child in an affluent middle class family, and features buoyant music, bright colors and a positive narration from actor Ed Harris that describes the benefits of homeownership, from strong communities to higher self-esteem and test scores for children.

NAR’s Real Estate TV Ad – Misfire?

Though unassuming enough, the ad has sparked somewhat of a firestorm among agents and consumers, who allege that the ad implicitly states that homeowners are smarter, more confident and more community-minded than renters. A movement has started to have the ad taken off the airwaves, and a hashtag, #killthead, has even been created to further galvanize the movement.

A blog entry by Mark Davison of 1000watt spoke to many of the opposition movement’s hesitations with the ad:

“My goal is not to refute NAR’s findings,” Davison wrote. “As a brand guy, I am more concerned with why NAR chose (by simple deduction) to profile renters as having lower self-esteem, leading unhealthy and unhappy lives, being civically apathetic and bearing children who don’t perform well on the SAT.

Are NAR’s Claims Accurate?

And then there is the matter of NAR’s claims, and whether they are accurate. Thankfully, the always excellent Steve Harney has already extensively surveyed the validity of NAR’s claims on the KCM Blog:

  •  A paper from NAR, Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing, is an exhaustively-cited report (there are 49 citations across 16 pages) that addresses the many benefits of homeownership, with community and children being among the topics it covers.
  • For the stronger community claims, Harney found two cited papers that are readily available, but could not locate any researching suggesting contrary opinions.
  • The claim of more confident and academically-successful children, though, is a different story; though there are also two available papers for NAR’s position, competing scholarship does exist on the topic.

NAR Marketing Campaigns

The blowback from NAR’s real estate TV ad comes as somewhat of a surprise, given how vast and well-funded NAR’s public policy outreach efforts are; they span across national TV and radio, print media, social media, and its Real Estate Today radio program and ambitious e-mail campaign, which we recently wrote about. Altogether, NAR’s annual advertising budget is $40 million, and it’s financed by a $35 special assessment fee from members.

So what are your thoughts? Did NAR go too far in its claims? Was it a mistake to go after renting, or was that perhaps an unintentional message in the ad? And would the ad have been more successful if, being named “Moving Pictures,” it had utilized music from the classic Rush album of the same name? Let us know!

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