X-Actly on Brand: 5 Questions With Coldwell Banker’s Sean Blankenship

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Coldwell Banker X-Men

Coldwell Banker has been trying to extend the relevance of its brand beyond mere real estate transactions to something that communicates the essence of home. And now, in its first major partnership with a movie, Coldwell Banker is pushing the envelope for this new positioning further than ever before.

Kicking off today is a Coldwell Banker campaign around the new X-Men: Apocalypse film that will be released May 27. The campaign will continue through mid-June and includes one 15-second and two 30-second TV commercials that will air on NBC and online. “After a long day of saving the world,” one ad states, “it’s nice to come home.”

But perhaps the most clever part of the campaign is likely to be a mock, two-minute-long listing and virtual tour of Professor X’s mansion, which is fictionally located in upstate New York, complemented by online “profiles” of several different X-Men characters based on back stories developed by one of the film’s screenwriters.

The idea is to continue to dimensionalize the Coldwell Banker brand in ways similar to its recent partnerships with Major League Baseball and with Adopt-a-Pet—the latter of which has resulted in the adoption of 20,000 rescue animals.

“We really have touched on the emotional heartstrings of people with our approach around advertising and communicating the essence of home,” CMO Sean Blankenship, who joined Coldwell Banker three years ago, told brandchannel. 

brandchannel talked with Blankenship about the X-Men campaign and how it fits in with the brand’s strategy:

bc: Why are you teaming up with 20th Century Fox for this X-Men campaign? This seems like a particularly big leap for Coldwell Banker—you’re not a sports car brand!

Coldwell Banker Sean Blankenship

Sean Blankenship: They called us and said, ”You guys are really doing some wonderful things around the idea of home, and we’d like to talk with you about an upcoming movie we have.” We’re always interested in reaching outside real estate and when we started talking with them this happened very fast.

bc: So what’s the concept behind the campaign?

Blankenship: We’ll have special spots. And we’re going to celebrate the most famous real estate listing in the world. It’s the smartest home in the world, and we’re going to list it and have it on our website. And we’ve created a short video featuring one of our employees doing an amazing walk-around of the mansion, as well as easter eggs on the site where visitors can explore the mansion on their own. And one of the screenwriters is doing “sellers’ stories” about the X-Men that we will put on our ColdwellBanker.com features.

It’s really exciting. We’ll have lots of assets for our networks. We’ve kind of been joking around about how we’ve been finding homes for humans and last year for dogs—and now for mutants. It’s really fun.

bc: What was your reaction when 20th Century Fox approached you?

Blankenship: MLB also approached us. So now it’s happened more than once—it’s time to celebrate the good work we’ve done. Right away with Fox we decided it was a good fit with the brand and determined some ways we could activate a partnership and integrate with what we were doing. And if we hadn’t been able to act quickly we couldn’t have done it, because our time was so tight.

Coldwell Banker X-Men

bc: With a movie that’s likely to be a summer blockbuster, how long can you extend the positive association for Coldwell Banker?

Blankenship: They’re very strict about it, which we respect. This will run through June 16.

bc: What are the implications from this campaign for the brand and your marketing strategy?

Blankenship: Ultimately, it will help us with our overall marketing operation. Hopefully this sort of thing will happen again. It’s a tremendous opportunity for our organization to learn. My sense is that, as a brand, we’re one of the few—if not the only one—in the industry that could have reacted the way we did and had the credibility to do this. It would be a stretch for a normal brand.

And over the next two to three years, we need to recognize the next generation of sellers and buyers and we need to communicate with. We’re doing a good job of this already. And when people see the X-Men collaboration, awareness will rise and consideration for our brand will be very positive. People will go, “Wow,” thinking that here’s a brand willing to step out of the norm. I think it will generate wonderful opportunities moving forward.


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