Centex Homes wanted to find a way to help its model homes stand out.
"We felt we could do a better job making model [homes] more interactive and memorable," says Amanda Larson, marketing director for the Centex central coast division.
Model homes are typically beautifully appointed and decorated, but they "lack the warmth of somebody being in that space," notes Jim Garfield, senior publicist at Roddan Paolucci Roddan, which Centex enlisted for the effort.
The team took a theatrical approach in which actors would play a family in a model home, allowing prospective buyers to experience a home rather than a house, to be entertained, and to learn about the product. "It's a family-entertainment, as well as a home-shopping experience," Garfield says. "We were able to... give [the home] personality and interactivity."
"We wanted something relaxed that would encourage participation," Larson says, noting that the shows became increasingly improvisational.
The story was widely pitched. B-roll was created, as well as "movie" posters, which ran as full-page ads in real estate sections and were posted in neighborhood sales centers. "We created a story that showed the home and our client in an innovative, progressive way," Garfield says. "Encouraging participation rather than observation galvanized media to put a good spin on it, and they could write about it firsthand."
Extensive media coverage in all local outlets, as well as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, made HomeLife known to about a quarter billion people. Larson says sales increased in all HomeLife neighborhoods. The number of people signing interest registries also increased, and exit surveys show the majority of visitors found the experience helpful.
The agency will continue to work with Centex, and the company is considering similar campaigns.
PR Team: Centex Homes (Dallas, TX) and Roddan Paolucci Roddan (Palos Verdes Estates, CA)
Duration: May 20, June 10, and July 15, 2006