If you watched ABC’s comedy, Modern Family last night, you witnessed Phil Dunphy (played by Ty Burrell) wear his REALTOR® pin, express what it means to be a REALTOR®, and ultimately save the day with his REALTOR® skills. And that was no accident – the show teamed up with the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and their new creative and media agencies Arnold and Havas, for what may be the most organic, natural ad integration to date.
We’ve all seen hit shows like New Girl struggle to integrate awkward ads about Ford that painfully go against the grain of the show. But this storyline brand integration was natural to the existing brand of the oafish character who is actually quite good (and serious about) his real estate career.
The episode coincides with a series of :15 and :30 ad spots for television and online, as part of NAR’s gutsy “Get REALTOR®” campaign seeking to help consumers understand the value of a REALTOR®, and how that differs from a real estate agent.
The two spots already airing
The two spots, “Silence” (below) and “Ball” (which we call “Cat-Like Reflexes,” seen here) are already airing nationwide.
NAR’s involvement in the creative process
NAR Senior Vice President of Communications Stephanie Singer notes that Dunphy “always does the right thing,” making it a natural fit. At the shoot, she observed Burrell do a lot of improvisation with show creators Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan who directed the ads. She reports a lot of laughter on set.
The truth is that this was a collaboration between three brands – NAR (and their Consumer Communications Committee), Modern Family, and Ty Burrell – which means that unlike traditional advertising, no single entity had complete control (although NAR did have input into the scripts). In our assessment, the risk paid off.
Reactions have been positive, with members tweeting frequently about the idea that finally the public has been offered a definition of “REALTOR®” versus “agent.”
Singer notes that this is part of the “Get REALTOR®” effort to redefine the REALTOR® brand and contemporize it. Although they “protect the brand voraciously,” this integration is, indeed indicative of the trade group’s adaptation to modern culture.
One episode only, but Phil’s-osophies live on
Dunphy will only wear the REALTOR® pin for this one episode, as the ad integration was for one episode only, but in addition to the two aforementioned ads, there are nine more that have been produced (0:15 seconds each), which will be reviewed at the upcoming 2016 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo (“Midyear”) by the committee.
On top of all of that, NAR will be using the social and digital assets through May of 2017, so look for TGIP posts (“thank goodness it’s Phil”) and humorous posts of that nature.
Singer opines that it’s important for readers “to understand the strategic vision this campaign executes,” that they’re redefining the REALTOR® brand, updating it for today’s hyper-connected consumers who think they can DIY. They’re seeking to appeal to digital natives nervous about reaching out to a human (REALTOR®). This all “aims to overcome that reluctance, and demonstrate a friendly, approachable way that REALTORS® can help [consumers] succeed in real estate.”
Our favorite Phil scenes from the episode
Aside from the ending of the ad where Dunphy gets hit by a ball repeatedly (we’re all quoting “sexel fear kyle tac” around the office), there were two great scenes you should be aware of.
First, if you haven’t seen the full episode (go watch it, that would make things easier), Sophia Vergara’s character has a salsa line that is taking off, and they find a competitor has stolen her recipe. Here’s how Phil wins that fight (watch for the ninja REALTOR® skills):
Realtors are just your everyday superheroes, NBD. https://t.co/r22zalj5Rc
— Modern Family (@ModernFam) May 5, 2016
Earlier in the episode, he’s upset that he was bumped at his niece’s career day for a periodontist. Gloria mentions his being an agent, and he responds, “first of all, I’m not just a real estate agent, I’m a Realtor. I’m a member of a national association, a brotherhood, sworn to the Realtor Code of Ethics. That’s what this R stands for,” he says, pulling out his jacket with the REALTOR® pin on the lapel.
“A brotherhood!” Perfect timing for the countless professionals about to hop a plane for NAR’s Midyear conference to celebrate that “brotherhood.”