Homestore.com 'quest' casts caveman in TV spot

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Homestore.com seems to be the only dot-com not to have bought ad time in the Super Bowl. Is it living in a cave?

Yes. Today the big real estate Web site launches its first major ad campaign with a TV spot featuring a caveman in search of new digs. Veteran director Joe Pytka has produced what Homestore calls a "cine-mercial," at a cost of close to $1 million.

The effort is targeted to the 10 U.S. markets with the highest Internet usage, and is budgeted at a modest $7 million in media, according to executives close to the company. However, Homestore reportedly will spend about $40 million on advertising this year.

"This was to put a stake in the ground," said Jerry Gentile, creative director at TBWA/Chiat/Day,

Playa del Rey, Calif., which created the campaign. He said the marketer will commence a sustained brand campaign later in the year.

SUPER BOWL IMPACT

"It is a Super Bowl-kind of commercial," said Jeff Charney, VP-marketing at Homestore. "It will definitely stop people like the Super Bowl ads do. [But] we would be another me-too advertiser if we ran during the Super Bowl."

The TV commercial is slated to run for six weeks. Print ads will run in The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

The 60-second spot, called "The Quest," has a caveman annoyed by his current cave--it's drafty and the roof leaks. On a long journey, he searches for a new home. This story--told in a letterbox format--enfolds amid beautiful landscapes and concludes with the caveman finding a better dwelling, after scaring away its occupants.

"For 1.7 million years man has been looking for a better place to live," the spot says. The tagline: "There's no place like home."

"People are always looking for something better," said Mr. Gen-Pytka ad tile. "You have to make things emotionally relevant."

Ironically, Homestore launches its over-the-top TV spot at a time when many dot-coms are moving toward less oblique, more direct advertising, to make sure the brand message is understood in a sea of dot-com advertising.

2 MIL VISITORS A MONTH

Homestore says it pulls in more than 2 million unique visitors to its site per month. A chief part of the site is its listings of some 1.3 million new and existing homes through associated Web site Realtor.com, which is the official site of the National Association of Realtors.

Copyright January 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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