Campaign Review: Realestate.com.au vs Domain

In this edition of Campaign Review, Mumbrella asked Clemenger BBDO Sydney's Brendan Willenberg and Akcelo's Dave Di Veroli to directly compare and contrast two campaigns from competing brands in the same category. Up for review are the spring campaigns from Realestate.com.au and Domain.

The campaigns

Brand: Domain
Campaign: See the possibilities
Agency: Re, part of M&C Saatchi

Brand: Realestate.com.au
Campaign: Off-Market
Agency: Created in collaboration with The Situation Room

The deliberation

Brendan Willenberg, executive creative director at Clemenger BBDO Sydney, says:

Two campaigns, both alike in category.

On fair Mumbrella, where we lay our scene.

Right, my pretentious Shakespeare quote that is loosely based on a reference to ‘Houses’ is out of the way…. let’s get stuck into the Domain and Realestate.com.au work.

I think the similarities between these two campaigns ends at the category level and they are streets apart in almost all other aspects.

Is it a fair fight? I don’t think so.

One of these campaigns is an artful and elegant expression of a strategy. The insights to prompt people to consider their next move is done subtly with great direction and brilliant performance. I think there is something in here that we can all relate to and each of the insights would provide for brilliant targeting options to press the right buttons on the right people. It also has a great one-two punch of emotional message with rational product feature at the end.

The other is a cavalcade of RTBs delivered with stilted writing by one of the most unlikeable characters to ever grace TV. I get that he was cast as the antagonist, but I do feel that the unbelievable stupidity of the guy (and his arguments) would do little to dissuade me from selling my home off-market. If it went some of the way to acknowledging why people would choose that option and then showed why they’d be boneheads to do it I could be convinced.

I do give it a few points for being an interesting media thought. Sequential episodes airing in consecutive ad breaks is pretty cool so hats off for making that happen.

Having been asked to score each campaign, I can’t put a number on each, but I will say that Domain work appeals to me much more from a creative purity point of view. What campaign would the punters prefer? I think they both work in different ways. The charm of Domain would get people smiling and watching. The didactic nature of the Realestate.com.au campaign is pretty hard to miss so if you engage… you’ll get the message.

Dave Di Veroli, chief strategy officer and partner at Akcelo, says:

In a turbulent real estate market, everyone is struggling to make heads or tails of the situation.

Sellers are second guessing themselves. Will prices drop 30%? Will they defy logic and rise? Do I go digital auctions or settle with a private treaty?

Amongst the uncertainty of COVID-19, many would-be sellers are holding tight to their properties.

This means buyers are vying for a small pool of properties available, leading sellers to be tempted to sell off market given the strong demand. A somewhat unusual choice if we were in usual times.

So what do people need during unpredictable times? Some reassurance. A little advice and maybe to be pointed in the right direction.

Enter REA, with a feel-good campaign that delivers some good old common sense (when nothing seems to make any).

The series of ‘Off Market Episodes’ show a well intentioned dad as he tries to convince his family why selling off market is the smart choice.

A clever casting choice has Duncan Fellows (from the hilarious Australian Netflix series ‘The Letdown’) reprise a somewhat familiar role as the clueless dad. Throughout the series of 30 second spots, his reasons for selling off market become more and ludicrous, using humour to great effect.

Leading anyone watching to reasonably conclude that selling off market would be utterly insane. REA cleverly debunks the reasons for selling off market in an entertaining and highly persuasive campaign.

Smart media placement, with four 30 second spots airing in sequence during ad breaks, allows REA to really drive home the point that selling off market should be off the table.

On the other hand, Domain is looking to leverage the fact people have been searching for more roomy rentals or homes during lockdown.

With everyone stuck at home during COVID-19, there is no doubt people would be questioning whether there are better options out there.

The campaign uses a series of spots to highlight common struggles people face (limited space, lack of light etc) and then resolves each with the line ‘see the possibilities on domain’.

Highlighting category entry points is a sound strategy for Domain. Linking itself to situations or ‘micro-moments’ people are reconsidering their housing options.

They do a good job of maximising the 15 second format, however the ads feel formulaic and a little slow to action in order to capture attention across social media. The scenarios are not exaggerated enough to be entertaining, or particularly tailored to the struggles people are facing today.

The verdict

Willenberg: Who cares what some bearded ad dude thinks? I’m sure the anonymous comment section would rinse the REA work but if punters like it and it gets them browsing or listing on the platform then job done.

Di Veroli: Realestate.com.au: 8/10, Domain: 6/10

  • As told to Zoe Wilkinson. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email zoew@mumbrella.com.au

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