The Real Deal New York

Who let the dogs out?

Corcoran pets get their 15 minutes of fame
By Katherine Clarke | January 01, 2013 07:00AM

Lulu, a French bulldog owned by Corcoran agents Christina Abad and Michael Hearne

Life is good for Marcel, a French bulldog from Brooklyn — at least according to the new Corcoran Group TV commercial he stars in.

In the firm’s first ever TV spot, which began airing last month and already has more than 536,000 views on YouTube, Marcel can be seen browsing high-end apartments on Corcoran’s website, getting a massage and dining out with Lulu, a fellow Frenchie. The commercial, which comes in 30- and 60-second spots, has been airing weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. on NY1 and Fox, and is being shown in New York taxicabs.

Neither of the commercial’s canine stars, however, have formal show-biz training. Instead, both are pets belonging to Corcoran agents, and were recruited through a company-wide casting call.

One-year-old Marcel belongs to Phyllis Elliott, an associate broker based in Corcoran’s Brooklyn Heights office. Three-year-old Lulu, meanwhile, belongs to married couple Christina Abad and Michael Hearn, both Corcoran agents who work in the firm’s Williamsburg office.

To cast the commercial, which advertises Corcoran’s newly unveiled website redesign, firm executives emailed staff asking for French bulldogs willing to be on TV.

Christina Lowris-Panos, Corcoran’s chief marketing officer, said the firm had chosen Frenchies because they tend to have big personalities and expressive faces. And they felt there was no reason to recruit a specially trained movie dog, she said, when there are so many pups within the Corcoran ranks.

Elliott said she knew right away that Marcel would be perfect for the spot, given his outgoing demeanor.

“He’s a lover,” Elliott said. “I call him Marcel the lover.”

Corcoran had a budget of around $500,000 for the production and placing of the commercial, Lowris-Panos said. The entire process of casting and production, headed by Manhattan-based Rogue Productions, took only two weeks.

Filming took place over two days in Soho and the Flatiron district. And while it appears in the final cut that the dogs were incredibly obedient, it wasn’t quite that easy.

At one point in the commercial, for instance, Marcel and Lulu are seen sauntering down the street side by side, seemingly without leashes. In reality, the producers used invisible fish wire to keep them from wandering off, Abad said.

Coaxing Marcel to lie still for the massage scene was much easier, Elliott said. Indeed, that scene was shot at the end of the day, when he was already exhausted.

The agents did not receive any payment for their dogs’ services, but both said they’d happily let their dogs appear in future ads. “I’m becoming a stage mom,” Abad laughed.