For months, it looked like Douglas Elliman was permanently rolling back some of its flashier marketing initiatives after more than a year of aggressive spending.
But, as it turns out, the brokerage was quietly gearing up for another push, while reassessing exactly how it should be spending its war chest.
Elliman is rolling out a new year-long marketing program dubbed the “It’s Time for Elliman” campaign, comprising television spots, print and digital advertising, billboards and event sponsorship. Elliman — which counted only $100,000 in profits in the first quarter in part because of increased marketing initiatives — is looking to solidify its presence in New York and make a bolder statement in new markets like Los Angeles and Aspen, the company told The Real Deal.
The campaign, which was produced with advertising firm Agency Sacks, will include giant billboards on the Long Island Expressway’s east and westbound approach to and from the Midtown Tunnel, as well on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. A redesigned Elliman logo will also wrap buses operated by the Hampton Jitney service.
In addition, the company will be advertising heavily at private and executive airports in Aspen and L.A., it said. The television spots, for which Elliman made two separate ads, will air in all of the markets the company serves.
The firm is also revamping its magazine, which will publish four times a year. Two issues will be dedicated to new development, while the others will focus on resale.
Finally, Elliman has formed a new partnership to sponsor Frieze New York, the high-end art fair, adding to its relationships with Art Basel Miami and Design Miami. At Miami’s Art Basel, for example, the company has thrown nightly after-parties and hosted receptions with artists such as Dustin Yellin and Damien Hirst.
“This is going to reach 750 million people — from outdoor to print to digital to social,” said Dana DeVito, senior vice president of marketing at the company. “We’ve been scouring the country and making sure that if you’re not aware of Douglas Elliman, you will soon become aware.”
Scott Durkin, the company’s COO, declined to comment on the specific cost of the program, saying only that it was a “multi million dollar” campaign.
Durkin came aboard from the Corcoran Group in January 2016. Since then, the marketing department has been largely reshuffled. Nicole Oge, the firm’s global chief marketing officer who spearheaded an all-out marketing blitz for the company starting in 2014, left the firm in May 2016, leaving DeVito to take the top marketing job. Much of Oge’s efforts had focused around trying to turn Elliman into a so-called “lifestyle brand.”
The brokerage also parted ways with Richard Pérez-Feria, the editor-in-chief of its publishing arm, Elliman Media. The new magazine will focus less on lifestyle and more on real estate. “You can’t forget what you do,” Durkin said. “We need to include real estate in the forefront of our program.”
Oge’s efforts previously drew criticism from some of the company’s brokers, who said the aggressive spending hadn’t benefitted them directly. But Howard Lorber, Elliman’s chairman, said that he sees the marketing push as a long-term strategy designed to secure Elliman as a massive national brand.
Speaking at TRD’s annual forum last week, Lorber said the short-term profits aren’t a priority for him.
“Being an entrepreneur I look past that and say, ‘So, we make a little less money or a lot less money during our growth mode? It’s OK. I’m willing to invest that money to build,” he said.