There's no better thing for a marketer than the combination of cultural and temporal relevance. So Century 21 CMO Bev Thorne was happy to see members of America's bobsledding teams get trapped in bathrooms and elevators at the Sochi Olympics and then tweet about it.
Because Century 21 is a proud sponsor of the US bobsledding and skeleton teams and a major advertiser during the Sochi games worldwide, "it's been fun to watch [the bobsledders] and their activities, Thorne told brandchannel. "And we launched a related campaign on social media and it's been very well received."
Relevance is the byword for Century 21 these days as it continues a campaign begun last year to tie its brand and its agents—"Smarter. Bolder. Faster"—to a steady stream of things unfolding in the news and popular culture.
The real estate brand's real-time marketing efforts have included, for instance, a digital effort tied to Twitter's IPO and another to the birth of Prince George as well as ties to major holidays. This week, Century 21 launched a Valentine's related promotion via videos with non-rhyming poems about the role that a house can play in love.
Century 21 attempts to leverage the buzz created by such tie-ins into subjects of conversation between its superlative agents and potential home buyers and sellers, Thorne said.
"We want to take those conversations that our target consumers are having anyway and put the home, and home-brokerage services, in the center of them," she explained. "It gives our agents the opportunity to engage in discussions around something the consumer is already interested in. It helps fuel relationships. Our response from agents has been overwhelmingly positive."
Thorne also feels good about how Century 21 skipped over the Super Bowl this year and chose to put its big advertising bet before the spring selling season on a truly worldwide event instead. "We're clearly a global company, with more offices outside the US than within it, and more than 50 percent of our transactions outside the country," she said. Sochi "seemed like a perfect opportunity."
And does Thorne see housing markets cooperating with a strong spring selling season? In the US, Thorne said, there are good signs that the market will be able to follow up on last year's gains with some more in 2014. Market gains "are clearly in a sustainable space, and that leaves us feeling good."