A marketing idea for the real estate segment

Open any print newspaper on the weekends—across India—and you may see tons of large ads by real estate brands. Week after week!

The real estate category has a fairly long gestation period for sales closure – given the high cost involved, they need to market for the long-term a lot more than expecting faster conversions. The more the idea percolates in the target audience’s mind, the better it helps in conversion in the long run.

In a way, the real estate segment aims to sow the idea of owning a home in the minds of potential buyers, the idea germinates into a need, becomes a desire, and eventually moves towards a potential lead for the real estate brands.

Most real estate brands undertake a lot of brand-building efforts that place the overall brand, more than just individual projects, in the minds of people in a positive way.

An organic way in which buyers experience and form impressions about a real estate brand is when they visit someone else’s home. For instance, when you visit a friend who lives in a Sobha apartment.

Is there an inorganic way—advertising—to simulate that experience?

Here’s an idea.

I was watching a new Malayalam song from the film Sara’s over the weekend and couldn’t take my eyes off some of the interior shots! Take a look.

I recalled an earlier instance of another Malayalam song that was shot in Bengaluru and the film itself was called Bangalore Days.

These are not exceptions. Many Indian films have indoor shots inside apartments either for songs or for scenes. This is a more recent phenomenon (probably in the last 1-2 decades) compared to the earlier period when erecting homes or apartment sets were the norm.

For instance, an Indian film that was more famously spoken about the apartment complex it featured was Mani Ratnam’s Anjali. The film’s art director Thota Tharrani had erected that entire apartment complex as a gated community inside Venus Studios in 2nd Cross Street, Venus Colony in Chennai! Today, that location has Aashiana Apartments!

How do films generally credit the location where the scenes are shot at? Usually, this is done at the beginning of the film where a series of ‘Thank you’ cards appear.

For instance, since Sara’s is available on Amazon Prime and I found where and which apartment complex is shown in the film: it is most likely to be SFS Tranquil apartments in Kottayam! (There is another shot in the song where Anna Ben is entering the elevator in the basement and that scene has a wall that carries the SFS logo). Or, the external shots could be from SFS Tranquil, while the interior shots could be from Hifi Apartments in Kakkanad.

The apartment complex (at least the scenes outside the actual flat) are from August Park, Kaggadasapura Main Road, C V Raman Nagar, Bengaluru!

While the scenes generally don’t make it to YouTube, the songs do all the time! And these songs rake in millions of repeated views when they go popular or viral.

Is there a way real estate brands could make use of all this visibility? No doubt, people come to these songs for the stars and the music, but they also come to newspapers for the news. If in a ‘news’paper, real estate brands could intervene with their messaging, is there a way they could intervene in a film song’s music video too, subtly and unintrusively?

A couple of thoughts… and yes, these need more deliberation, of course.

  1. Work with production houses and location scouting agencies to ensure that your (real estate) brand has the chance of getting placed in a decent enough production. This is a very long game and only well-established real estate brands could play this well.
  2. Once a brand is featured in a song, is there a way they could seek some form of explicit credit that doesn’t rob the end user from the song’s experience? For instance, work with the production house/record label to add a mention of the project’s name, location and if possible a website link in the YouTube credits space.
  3. If, as a real estate brand, you find your apartment/home featured in an existing song, no matter how old it is, is there a way you could work with both the production house and the audio/record label (even better when the video may be uploaded by the production house itself!) to find a price to add credits in YouTube?
  4. An even more ambitious addition could be an on-screen credit for a few seconds when the home appears in the best possible manner – that is, on the YouTube video, in a corner, the name of the property/apartment appears for say, 4-5 seconds. I’m sure this would be a lot more expensive, and a bit intrusive too, but worth a try!

The biggest advantage of working on this pipeline of visibility is the repeated exposure the projects get at a brand level (and not necessarily at an individual project level). This is a brand-building effort in the truest sense that showcases the brand in the best possible manner – in a lived-in way, that too featuring some well-known stars!

Besides influencing actual buyers, this could help in broader word-of-mouth too – I may not be in the market to buy an apartment now, but could suggest something I see and am impressed with, to someone else I know.

Needless to add, this is merely an idea. There are a lot of questions to address including the cost of such associations at a YouTube song level that may simply come down to the negotiation skills of the parties involved instead of any commonly agreeable number.

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