media messaging, as well as traditional advertising, to drive home
your indispensability. Content is posted at realtor.org, giving you
an easy way to use the messages in your own social communities.
Welcome to advertising for the millennial generation.
A Staunch Defender
From the start, organized real estate has been concerned with
promoting the message of trust and value to the public. One
of the main topics discussed at the association’s first national
meeting in 1908 was methods for publicly highlighting the
benefits of working with members on real estate transactions.
When he coined the word “Realtor” in 1915, Minnesota
practitioner Charles Chadbourn had that goal firmly in mind.
Chadbourn not only embraced the ideals of NAR’s founders—that
an association would separate the true professionals from the
“curbstoners, riffraffs, and sharks” that were out to swindle the
public—he felt the members needed a professional title of their
own. The National Association of Real Estate Boards, as NAR was
known at that time, agreed. The association adopted the term in
1916, paying Chadbourn one dollar for the rights.
Talk about the deal of the century. NAR has been the proud
keeper and staunch defender of the “brand truth” ever since.
“If you look back at the old Board of Directors minutes, it’s clear
that trademark protection has been of utmost importance since
the beginning,” says NAR General Counsel Katherine Johnson.
“REALTORS® were definitely on the forefront of establishing
and protecting membership trademarks, even before the U.S.
government was ready to tackle the issue.”
In fact, NAR couldn’t legally apply for federal registration
rights to “REALTOR®” for three decades after it officially obtained
the name. The trademark was granted in 1949 after passage of
the Lanham Act of 1946 allowed collective membership marks
to be registered. (The Trademark Act of 1905 had prohibited
registration of “symbols of collective groups” until 1938.)
By the mid-1920s, an annual consumer outreach effort known
as “REALTOR® Week” was being used as a convenient moment
each year for state and local associations to launch initiatives
and advertising campaigns. The first national version was held
in March 1956, eventually replaced by Private Property Week in
1976, and, in 1986, American Home Week.
In addition to running ads and helping local associations get
the word out, NAR had the foresight to make connections with
dictionary creators, editors, and publishers to ensure that the
term “REALTOR®” was used correctly in print.
NAR and state and local boards have worked hard to enforce
the association’s and members’ exclusive rights to the term.
Federal and state courts have upheld those rights more than two
dozen times. In 2015, NAR was a finalist for World Trademark
Review’s Not-for-profit Organisation Team of the Year award.
New Reality, New Strategy
REALTORS® began advertising nationally in 1998 with the “Real
Estate is our Life” campaign. Over the years, the advertising has
enjoyed overwhelming member support—and no wonder. For
national promotion, the $35 annual assessment that members
pay is a bargain. But while the campaign message changed over
the years to reflect the times, the medium remained largely
traditional television and radio spots.
So in 2015, NAR tapped Arnold Worldwide to formulate a new
media strategy. Arnold began by extensively researching the
REALTOR® brand, diving into the fundamental elements of trust
and dynamism. They found that consumers rated REALTORS®
more trustworthy than both other real estate professionals
and four real estate portal websites. But in terms of dynamism
(as measured by innovation, convenience, technological
advancement, accessibility, and other factors), the REALTOR®
brand came out somewhere in the middle of that same group.
Lisa Unsworth, chief marketing officer at Arnold, says the
REALTOR® brand’s strong score on the trust measurement is
a rare demonstration of market saturation. “Any other brand
would be envious,” she says.
Todd Shipman, AHWD, GRI, an Edina, Minn. agent and current
chair of NAR’s Consumer Communications Committee, agrees
that the goal of the campaign isn’t to convince more people to
use a REALTOR® as much as projecting a sense of vitality. “This
isn’t a ‘we need market share’ branding campaign. This is about
being relevant to the contemporary consumer and [ensuring]
they understand our value proposition.”
32 REALTOR® MARCH/APRIL 2016 REALTORMAG.REALTOR.ORG
More historical images: realtorm.ag/narmark