The Real Deal National

Elliman hires new chief marketer ahead of rebranding, lead-generation platform launch

The brokerage has two upcoming initiatives slated to launch later this year, including a rebranding and lead generation platform for agents
By Erin Hudson | July 29, 2019 09:00AM

From left: Scott Durkin, Stephanie Garbarini and Howard Lorber in front of Douglas Elliman's headquarters at 575 Madison Avenue (Credit: Google Maps, Douglas Elliman)

From left: Scott Durkin, Stephanie Garbarini and Howard Lorber in front of Douglas Elliman’s headquarters at 575 Madison Avenue (Credit: Google Maps, Douglas Elliman)

Douglas Elliman’s got a new chief marketing executive on deck just in time for a companywide rebranding and the launch of a new digital platform for agents.

Stephanie Garbarini, a fashion executive who’s worked at Barneys New York, J.Crew and, currently, Dressbarn, will be joining the brokerage’s corporate leadership team as vice president of marketing in August, according to Elliman’s COO Scott Durkin.

Marketing teams across Elliman’s offices in California, Colorado, Florida and New York will report to her. Garbarini will in turn report to Durkin and work alongside the brokerage’s recently-appointed creative head, Amy Rosenfeld.

According to Durkin, Garbarini was hired after a seven-month search and a signoff from Elliman’s C-suite, including chairman Howard Lorber. Garbarini replaces Samantha Yanks, who resigned last June after just a month on the job.

“[Garbarini] has the gamut of what we were looking for” in terms of experience and tenure, said Durkin. “Most importantly, she has the roll-up-your-sleeves kind of approach.” Though Garbarini doesn’t officially start until August 12, the incoming VP’s already got her work cut out for her.

As Elliman’s chief marketer, she will be in charge of digital strategy, advertising and events. She will be charged with leading the launch of two major initiatives expected to debut this year — a rebranding that’s being created by agency Grey New York and Rosenfeld, and a new proprietary platform called “The DE Studio.”

The rebranding, which Durkin calls “a refresh,” will include a new website and “some fun tag lines.” It is expected to launch this fall.

The DE Studio, which has not previously been reported, will contain an internal marketing suite for agents and a new lead generation platform, according to Durkin. He underscored that the platform is not a new business line for Elliman, but simply a new set of tools for agents.

“At the end of the day we sell real estate. We’re not a technology company, period,” he said. (Elliman’s chief technology officer left in June.)

News of Elliman’s forthcoming platform came within days of Realogy’s partnership with Amazon on the TurnKey program, which Durkin said “certainly looked promising.”

Durkin said he’d be keeping an eye on the results TurnKey yields, and noted that Elliman would be interested in discussing a similar partnership with Amazon or other third parties.

“We’re open to all discussions,” he said. “You don’t buy the first Apple phone, you buy the second generation.”

“Amazon doesn’t give exclusives like that forever,” he added.

Durkin declined to comment on whether any discussions about a comparable lead-generation program to TurnKey were currently underway with Amazon or others.

Over the past five years, Elliman has steadily poured millions into marketing campaigns while the department’s top job has seen frequent turnover.

Prior to Garbarini’s predecessor’s short-lived stint last year, Dana DeVito, a former Condé Nast executive, led the department, overseeing the year-long, multimillion-dollar brand campaign “It’s Time for Elliman” in 2017. Elliman’s major marketing budget and emphasis on aligning the brokerage with the trappings of a luxurious lifestyle, kicked into high gear under the leadership of Nicole Oge, a former Mercedes-Benz executive who joined Elliman from Town in 2014.