Does NAR’s Real Estate TV Ad Go Too Far?

by Chicago Agent


NAR is coming under considerable fire for it’s “Moving Pictures” real estate TV ad, which suggests that children of homeowners are more confident and academically-inclined than those of renters.

By Peter Ricci

The National Association of Realtors’ new real estate TV ad is garnering quite a bit of attention in the real estate community, and not all of it good.

Titled “Moving Pictures,” the ad plays from the perspective of a child in an affluent middle class family, and features buoyant music, bright colors and a positive narration from actor Ed Harris that describes the benefits of homeownership, from strong communities to higher self-esteem and test scores for children.

NAR’s Real Estate TV Ad – Misfire?

Though unassuming enough, the ad has sparked somewhat of a firestorm among agents and consumers, who allege that the ad implicitly states that homeowners are smarter, more confident and more community-minded than renters. A movement has started to have the ad taken off the airwaves, and a hashtag, #killthead, has even been created to further galvanize the movement.

A blog entry by Mark Davison of 1000watt spoke to many of the opposition movement’s hesitations with the ad:

“My goal is not to refute NAR’s findings,” Davison wrote. “As a brand guy, I am more concerned with why NAR chose (by simple deduction) to profile renters as having lower self-esteem, leading unhealthy and unhappy lives, being civically apathetic and bearing children who don’t perform well on the SAT.

Are NAR’s Claims Accurate?

And then there is the matter of NAR’s claims, and whether they are accurate. Thankfully, the always excellent Steve Harney has already extensively surveyed the validity of NAR’s claims on the KCM Blog:

  •  A paper from NAR, Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing, is an exhaustively-cited report (there are 49 citations across 16 pages) that addresses the many benefits of homeownership, with community and children being among the topics it covers.
  • For the stronger community claims, Harney found two cited papers that are readily available, but could not locate any researching suggesting contrary opinions.
  • The claim of more confident and academically-successful children, though, is a different story; though there are also two available papers for NAR’s position, competing scholarship does exist on the topic.

NAR Marketing Campaigns

The blowback from NAR’s real estate TV ad comes as somewhat of a surprise, given how vast and well-funded NAR’s public policy outreach efforts are; they span across national TV and radio, print media, social media, and its Real Estate Today radio program and ambitious e-mail campaign, which we recently wrote about. Altogether, NAR’s annual advertising budget is $40 million, and it’s financed by a $35 special assessment fee from members.

So what are your thoughts? Did NAR go too far in its claims? Was it a mistake to go after renting, or was that perhaps an unintentional message in the ad? And would the ad have been more successful if, being named “Moving Pictures,” it had utilized music from the classic Rush album of the same name? Let us know!

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  • Leslie Ebersole says:

    I’ll make the same comment here I made on Marc’s post. Homeownership is correlated with higher test scores, lower drop out rates and more community involvement. Correlated, not necessarily causal. Marriage, socio-economic status, age of the parents, tenure in the community, and the number of local family and friends are also correlated with higher test scores, etc.

  • Andrea Geller says:

    From a member perspective I am not convinced that the ad is appropriate for an association whose membership is made up of members who not only represent buyers and sellers, but renters and owners who lease properties as well as property managers. Who are they alienating?

  • Buzz says:

    Excellent comment Leslie.

  • Hugo says:

    The ad was to promote home ownership and used factual stats.

    Kudos NAR!!!

    Hugo Villalpando


  • Bob Dohn says:

    There is ample research over the years and continuing today to indicate that a large majority of renters believe in the benefits of homeownership. Many of them either aspire to become homeowners or choose to remain renters for specific reasons (i.e. better mobility). I think the NAR ad appeals to them as well as to homeowners. The facts, in my opinion, generally support the claims mentioned, and the majority of NAR members are in the business of helping people buy & sell homes, so what’s the big deal?

  • Wow! It is amazing to see that.This site is okay. Thanks for this fantastic article.

  • Jencros says:

    I have to say the ad caught my attention and made me google to get more info on the claim. Having grown up in an apartment, I always felt envious of kids that had houses. There was the perception, even as a child, that the kids in houses were ‘rich’ and we weren’t. I envied their yards, their pets, their french doors. I knew my parents wanted to buy a home and thought they couldn’t afford it. And although I did well in school and went on to be a happy and successful person, I think there may be some truth in the statement that home-ownership contributes to self-esteem for the homeowners and their children.

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