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

by Houston 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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  • “Speak your truth without judgement!”, is a valid concept that makes sense. If it is true, then it is, regardless of who is offended. We have become a world catering to every insecurity, ignorance, and easily offended person in the universe. How does one get a factual message out and not offend someone? If we intend to educate the greater public to the benefits of one, we will always risk offending the other. This ad did not appear to have the goal of offending renters. It’s goal is to educate the benefits of home ownership, not to denigrate renters. If data indicates drivers of white cars tend to have a higher IQ than those who drive other color cars, I am not going to assume that the intent is to say that I have a lower IQ because I drive a blue car. That data is simply identifying a fact about drivers of white cars and has no reflection on me individually. However, if I am feeling insecure about it, rather than resenting the data, I can buy a white car!

  • Lucy Limbaugh says:

    This is not going to be a supportive statement for renters vs homeowners. I taught school for 6 years prior to entering real estate. Unfortunately, the greater number of students who performed exceedingly well were from families who owned their homes- not leased. Many of the apartment dwellers came from a 2 parent working family – or a working,single parent family.

    In today’s poltically warpped climate, the ad probably smacks of privilege and the great masses do not aspire nor get to the point in their working life where they can picture themselves in that “movie”.

    It is such a pleasure to work with people in real estate who have struggled to achieve success.

    I do not approve of political correctness. How did we get to such a sad state in America where owning a home becomes shameful. We best be on the alert or in the future the government will try to take away home ownership as they did in Soviet Russis in the 1920’s.

  • Tony Barker says:

    Not offensive. It points out the benefits of owning a home for children. FACT. Home ownership is available, in country so far, for those who seek it with time and effort in that direction. It’s benefits and responsibilities are open to everyone who truly want it.
    NAR got this right!

  • Jim Cockrill says:

    The same people protesting this, are the people who bring a trophy for every member of their kid’s team, no matter if they win or lose. NAR would not produce an ad that purposely slights any group, but wants everyone to purchase a home as soon as they are capable of making the payments. That doesn’t happen for everyone at the same time, nor does it guarantee that you will ever qualify to buy a home. If you are never capable of buying a home, maybe you are doing the same thing in life over and over, expecting different end results. People rely on dreams to keep them going. Making those dreams nice and rosy is strictly advertising, not demeaning. Sort of like the hamburger ad showing a 4 inch hamburger, that you will never get when you visit that fast-food location.

  • Alma Logan says:

    I saw the commercial and did not think of it as being offensive in anyway. Whenever I see people that always find problems with such an innocent message, I see it as “wow!” Let’s focus on the positive side of the ad which is to encourage homeownership.Facts are facts. Like my husband always say, “the numbers don’t lie.”

    This is an ad to encourage homeownership, that’s all it is. I am sure it was not meant to insult anyone.

    I was happy that NAR was advertising on our behalf as Realtors to encourage homeownership.

    I want to say “Thank You!”

  • Mark McNitt says:

    If you ever had to move around from rental home to rental home, you would understand that it is all true! The self-esteem increases in the children that are at a home for a longer period of time and feel they are safe and not going to be uprooted at a moments notice. Yes, this could be a rental situation, but most long term house holds have purchased.

    And, the longer a family is in one location, the more they are likely to get involved with community…from crime prevention to support of local charities.

    Advertising in general can be viewed many different ways and NAR needs to push the topic of home ownership for all of us Realtors. Ownership is at a low point and reminding those renters the benefits of purchasing is what a good Realtor does! Most of us would agree more ownership and less rentals in neighborhoods builds stronger communities!

  • Bob Grinstead says:

    Too much concern about Political Correctness!

  • Mike Hammer says:

    Most agree home ownership can be a plus.
    There for the ad was a waste of NAR’s limited resources.

    REALTORS to focus of the members VIP issues.
    Emprove the quality of education for ALL of the children.
    Policies to be for ALL levels, in the REALTOR business, to be paid a living wage with needed benefits if adequate funds are not included within the living wage.
    Give up the homeownership tax credit deducts as a way to reduce the government debt, local, state & federal.
    REALTORS to set the example, WALK THE TALK, for an improving sustainable quality of life for ALL the population.
    Resolve the issue of a shortage of low income housing by working with the non-profits 15% of your time.
    Enforce the ETHICS CODE. Each foreclosure has a closing file naming those with more expertise than the Buyer & who were paid without any personal liability.
    Removing the REALTOR memebrs who were involved in causing the CRISIS WOULD HELP renew the public trust.

  • Louise Burke says:

    I say proclaim the truth and let the chips fall where they may. I agree we shouldn’t give a trophy to everyone who competes. Political correctness shouldn’t control what we say as long as it is true. Homeownership does equate with stable family life.

  • Chicago Dave says:

    Correlation does not equal causation. I’m sure the children of luxury car owners do better on their SATs than the children of Corolla owners, but running an ad touting the education benefits of buying a Lexus would be silly.

    It’s just as likely – if not more so – that people who value community and their children’s education are predisposed to buying homes than it is that mere act of purchasing property instills those values in the people who lack them.

  • Visiting this blog is our real pleasure. Should like to thank Peter Ricci for sharing such a useful information..

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