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Erin Davis

Ep 6 Subtej Nijjar

Subtej Nijjar

Episode 6/August 2020

Subtej Nijjar – Strategic Advertising in Real Estate

In Episode 6 of REAL TIME, we talk with Subtej Nijjar – President, Canada, at Mosaic North America and former partner at Union Creative, the agency behind CREA’s national ad campaigns – about methodologies REALTORS® can employ to better understand their audience, position themselves strategically and stay relevant in periods of change and a hypercompetitive industry.

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Episode Transcript

Erin Davis: Welcome to REAL TIME, a podcast for REALTORS® brought to you by CREA, the Canadian Real Estate Association. We're all about sparking conversations with inspiring people about all things Canadian real estate, and topics that impact REALTORS®, and really all of us. I'm your host, Erin Davis. I haven't been this excited to talk advertising and marketing since our first guest back on episode one under the influence host and ad guru, Terry O'Reilly.

In episode six of REAL TIME, we are talking today with Subtej Nijjar, partner at Union Creative. That's the agency behind CREA's national ad campaigns about things REALTORS® can do to better understand their audience, position themselves strategically and stay relevant in periods of change in the hyper competitive industry in, as Sub puts it, one of the most complicated processes in the world.

Subtej Nijjar, also known as Sub, has over 14 years of strategic and digital planning experience working on global brands like IBM, Microsoft, IKEA, Unilever, Best Buy, Under Armour, and Domino's, as well as Canadian clients in industries ranging from consumer-packaged goods to not-for-profits.

In 2005, Sub was named one of Marketing Magazine's "Ones to Watch." He says, while he was flattered by the honour, as the father of three young children, he has his own ones to watch and considers them his greatest achievement.

Here we go with Subtej Nijjar on REAL TIME.

Subtej, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted life for all of us. While big brands face the uncertainty of the months ahead, how can they build themselves back the right way?

Subtej Nijjar: That's a great question. I think in looking at what is happening in the marketing world or in the business world, I think a lot of us are focused on what the world looks like moving forward, and how we need to build some businesses and brands back. I think there's two aspects for it.

One of it is I think unfortunately, some businesses have had to cut spend and cut their marketing efforts, and for them, often times it might be a restart or a reboot in how they get back into their marketing activity. For other brands and for majority of the brands we have recommended, we have recommended that they don't go completely dark. It's not an abrupt, how do you get back, but how do you kind of transition an ongoing marketing message that can continually evolve that can ratchet up when things are getting better, or we can ratchet down when there are some concerns around how we should be marketing.

I think when we look at brands, it's about, ideally, it's the sole purpose, is how do you connect with a consumer, and how do you interact with that consumer, or how do you engage that consumer with the marketing message or the proposition you have as a brand. I think the interesting thing for us to look forward to is understanding the new world we live in is your marketing message or the way you've been delivering your marketing message relevant to this audience in what has transpired under COVID-19.

Erin: It almost comes down to read the room, doesn't it?

Subtej: Yes. I think it's a bit of the kind of jokes or the kind of humor we've used has constantly involved. What has been deemed as socially acceptable and not deemed as socially acceptable has evolved over the course of many years. I think you just need to be top of mind with what is happening with consumer sentiment, what is happening with culture, and how your messages need to evolve in this new landscape.

Erin: How can REALTORS® determine the right time and frequency to market their business, Sub?

Subtej: I think the interesting thing we've noticed is, brands who have stopped spending are more at risk of having to reevaluate and restart their marketing messages. Brands that have continually talked about a proposition, and especially in the REALTOR®'s case, it's about the value the REALTORS® bring, there's always going to be value even in uncertain times, because the value proposition changes. People might be more nervous around what am I going to do about my house that's on sale, or what am I going to do about potentially moving into neighbourhoods and not knowing what's happening to house prices or the economy.

What we've helped CREA do in REALTORS®, is understand that it's about demonstrating the value of REALTORS®. That value proposition is always going to be relevant no matter what is happening in the cultural landscape or in the world around us. Sometimes it allows you to put a magnifying glass on very specific issues that are relevant in the moment. Sometimes you're allowed to be a bit more generic and broader on some of the value propositions you talk about.

I think for my advice for REALTORS® is, think about what is happening in and around their communities, in and around the consumer basis they're talking to, and ultimately the job that they have is to make sure that their potential customer feels that they are going to get tremendous value by working with this specific REALTOR®. How are you going to demonstrate that? Is that through knowledge? Is that through experience? Is that through just a sense of calmness ensuring that you understand what is happening to them and their livelihood and the world around them? I think it's a bit of just understanding the context in which you need to have this conversation, and just being more aware of what that conversation is versus the conversation you want to have.

For example, it might be I sell the most amount of homes in the area. People may not care about that as the most motivating factor. What they might care about is you have an understanding of the community and the changes that are going to happen in the community. You just need to read that room correctly.

Erin: Our chat with Subtej continues in a moment, but while we're talking about reading a room, you can go to our Living Room, the source for free engaging content for your social feeds. From key 2020 housing trends, to design tutorials, Living Room lives to bring you entertaining and inspiring articles. Oh yes, entertaining and inspiring. Exactly the words I'd use to describe today's guest, Subtej Nijjar from Union Creative.

If I understand you correctly, Subtej, it's like instead of promoting a property, promote your own properties who you are as a REALTOR® and how you're going to wrap your arms around, figuratively, the consumer, the client as we move forward. Would that be it, changing the focus a little bit?

Subtej: Correct. I think the focus is going to be on the different aspects of your personality that are the most relevant today. I think the experience and the value we provide to consumers is something that we need to highlight that goes well beyond just a transaction.

Erin: What needs can REALTORS® help address in the short-term as we emerge from the pandemic, Sub?

Subtej: I think a lot of that is about just trust and understanding, and I think they become very soft, but very important needs. I think buying or selling a home is, most often than not, the single largest transaction any Canadian will do in their lives, and understanding the importance of what that means and all the issues that surround it. The issues of insecurity, the issues of not knowing what might be on the other side of a transaction, not knowing what happens to my livelihood or my jobs. It's not necessarily about the transaction of buying or selling a home, but it's around the relationship that you're trying to foster with that potential buyer or seller.

Erin: Your agency, Union Creative, has been an advertising partner of CREA's for many years. I think that what you've just said is probably the answer to my question, but what's unique about home buyers? It is not just a sweater or a couch. It is the largest purchase of their life. It comes with so many emotions, doesn't it? You're not going to get angsty or your fearful about a couch you're going to buy, but this is a whole different ball game and a much bigger ballpark.

Subtej: We tend to look at businesses from both a functional and an emotional standpoint. Sometimes the reason for purchase is the functional attributes your product or service has. When I want to buy an iPhone, yes, we all know they look cool. We all like the style and the design of them. When these feeds or these features or these specs outweigh the competitor, that's what I use to justify my purchase, or that's what I use to make my decision that I want an Apple over a Samsung or another device.

When it comes to a home, most often than not, while there are very functional needs on what I need my home to provide for me, the purchase reasons are all emotional. They're either life changes or triggers that are happening. Income triggers, you might've had children, you might be downsizing, you might be upsizing. Understanding that the majority of the purchase decision is made on the emotional side, the value that you provide has to deliver to those emotional questions I have.

If I'm nervous about taking on a mortgage, well, how can you help me understand the implications and the risks about it? How do you put me into your-- Most of the REALTORS® I've talked to in Canada have a network of service providers that solve essentially all of your house needs or your home needs — from plumbers to mortgage brokers, to bankers, to construction workers. How can you use your network and you as the circle of influence to answer all the potential questions that a person may have, or answer all the concerns a potential purchaser may have.

Erin: I can almost hear somebody listening to this right now in their car or wherever it is that you share REAL TIME, thank you for that, saying, "Okay, what about me? I'm a REALTOR® who doesn't have the resources of an agency or a marketing department. What do I do to better understand my audience?"

Subtej: To be honest, I think sometimes they better understand their audience than we do on a large national scale, because they're the ones talking to their customers on an hourly, if not daily basis. With the sentiment that is happening in social media, in community groups, how people are interacting and talking about it on forums, I think there's a lot of free information out there that you can leverage from just social media and the internet to see how people are discussing or what people are thinking about, as it relates to home buying and selling at any given time.

I know a lot of our REALTORS® have invested in their own social media footprint, so that means their own Facebook page or their own Instagram page. While that may seem like an ability to talk to a consumer directly, that is your marketing platform. That's arguably some of the strongest marketing platforms a REALTOR® has. Leveraging all of those touch points, their websites, their emails, their social media, they can create little videos on YouTube, all of the social media touch points that while they some of them do cost money to promote the content, to place the content, most often than not, it's free.

It's about just maybe some costs in creating that content that can be done as just a text thread, similar to what we're doing now, an audio recording or a podcast type idea, or a video. I think they can leverage all of those touch points they currently have to figure out how to best talk about what is happening currently in the marketplace, what is the impact of COVID, the change in direction that has happened since COVID, and any important piece they feel they need to communicate.

Erin: Back with Sub in a moment. How about joining us to chat about all things real estate? We have just the spot created for REALTORS® in Canada. CREA Cafe is the source for everything. From the latest news and stats, to legal matters and advocacy updates. Stay connected with your profession on I'm Erin Davis, and don't forget to subscribe to this podcast.

Our guest on this sixth edition of REAL TIME is Subtej Nijar. He is one of the founders of Union Creative, the advertising agency behind CREA's recent national ad campaign, and a collaborator, to name a few, in such international campaigns as those for IKEA, IBM, Unilever and Best Buy.

Sub is the best guy to be talking today with you about how to reach out and get your message across.

Tell me if this is true, when people find their budgets suddenly decreased or contracted, do they stop advertising? That sounds counter-intuitive, but is that an after effect of something like COVID-19?

Subtej: You know what, it's a bit of a 50/50 mix right now. I think what we are seeing is, there are some companies and brands who have chosen to remove their marketing efforts, and there are some who have chosen to continue. I think the difference is you need to understand the business you're in. If you're in the business, like Coca-Cola, where it's about selling the notion of a Coke classic in an iconic red can that quenches your thirst, they have spent years and years and decades building the notoriety around a single product. You're not really changing perceptions. You're not really trying to own a specific mindset in a consumer's head, but what you're trying to do is, when you think about a refreshment, a refreshing drink or a pop, think about Coke.

They have the luxury of pulling out marketing because the impact to their business won't be that great. When you think about going to the grocery store, when you think about buying a soda, Coke is always going to be one of the options because there's-- Let's look at the aisle. while the aisle has expanded, there's not that many options to compensate for Coke versus Pepsi.

For a product like REALTORS®, where we're constantly trying to change the perception of consumers about the value of REALTORS®, sometimes the implication of stopping is you have to start all over again, because if other people and the competitors have started to talk about what they offer, while you're not talking about what you offer, it's almost a starting from step one all over again. I think for us, and the advice we have given the Canadian Real Estate Association, is you never know when someone is going to be in the market for buying or selling a house.

We also know it's a constant ongoing progression of all the different value propositions we need to get consumers to understand that a REALTOR® provides. You have an ongoing base of communication, helps you to constantly build that perception. When you go dark, or when you go into a start and stop model, sometimes you have to start all over from step one to rebuild and re-engage that consumer with what value proposition you offer.

The example I use, it's almost like telling a story. When you're constantly telling a story, I don't have to go back to chapter one or chapter two to tell you what chapter three is about. You understand what the book is about as you're reading it. If you put a book down for a month, and then you pick it up again, oftentimes you have to go back a couple of chapters to reengage and refamiliarize yourself with what the story was about, what the author was trying to convey. If you were constantly reading a book every two or three days, you don't ever have to go back that far to understand what the book was about.

It's a similar approach, I think, to how people need to think about marketing. The longer you put a book away or the longer you put your brand away, the more work has to be done, and that work is sometimes an extra cost to get a consumer to understand what your product is about or what your service is about. The more you're constantly talking to them, the less effort is required to always start and stop. I think that's been the big debate. Once again, I think it depends on what your product is and the lifecycle of your product. It's easy for a Coca-Cola to take marketing out, because they have spent millions talking about what their product is about.

Erin: Okay, you talk about Coke. That's a great analogy. It's not exactly warm and fuzzy, it's more cold and fizzy. Let's talk about a brand that can relate to REALTORS® in CREA in terms of creating a sense of altruism or basic human referral. We don't have to look much further than, say, Nike, for a large company, a big body, to have a message that touches the heart while still marketing.

Subtej: Yes, exactly. I think when you look at brands like Nike, what they've understood is, while some of the decision criteria or decision purchase is made on some of the innovations in sole or air pockets or the leather or the fabric used in the shoe, a lot more of the decision is made by what that brand means to me, what that brand emotionally is satisfying. I think similarly to REALTORS®, what people have understood is they want brands like Nike to make the world around them better. When Nike takes a political stance on a Colin Kaepernick, they are very clearly defining who they think that are for.

If you're a consumer that believes in X, we also believe in that. I think if you look at REALTORS®, their X and what they believe in is the community around them. The more they can be perceived or seen as an active participant in building that community, I'm probably going to trust that they have my personal interests at heart, and they're going to deliver the services I need, because they're also helping the community around me, or they're actively involved in making the community better as well.

Erin: Community. If 2020 has taught us anything, and goodness knows it has, it's been the importance of connection, of reminding ourselves that we're part of a much bigger community, even during that time when we felt so alone. By volunteering and raising funds, REALTORS® across the country play meaningful roles in building and maintaining connections where they work and live. Let us know how you give back by sharing your story at In fact, that subject came up in my chat with Sub.

That's what I love about REALTORS® Care. Right there, if you're involved in that, and you're putting your story out on the CREA platform, you're telling people you have an altruistic side, you care about your community, you're involved, and that you are part of this whole family, the neighbourhood, the area, you know it and you care about it. That's a great message.

Subtej: It is a fantastic message because as consumers, we have access to many different ways to find information now. Especially when it comes to REALTORS®, they're human beings. I get to not only learn about what you stand for, I get to learn about your reputation, I get to learn about how people think of you, I also get to learn about what you do beyond just providing the service of selling or buying a home. The more I understand you, the more I understand the value you provide in your true self and your whole self, that's how I can make a decision if your beliefs align closer to mine.

Your point of view on the world aligns closer to mine. We're more likely to spend our money with brands or people or services who align to what we believe, and our personal believes.

Erin: Yes. You're just like me. You're going to care about my worries and my concerns and my ambitions as well.

Subtej: Exactly. I think all this stuff is small aspects that REALTORS® have always done. I think sometimes my advice is often, you just now need to put that as part of your marketing message. You need to place that in channels like social media, where people can see it, because this is stuff that great REALTORS® have always done. They've always been fabrics of our community. They've always been great, moral citizens that lead community efforts. They've always had this kind of day job of bettering the world that's around them while they've been buying and selling homes. Oftentimes they just never talked about it.

Erin: Well, how can REALTORS® reinforce their value?

Subtej: I don't think there is a magic bullet, and I think that's sometimes the frustrating thing when we've been talking to a lot of the REALTORS® across the country. I think it's an ongoing onslaught that in every channel and every touch point, you constantly have to reaffirm everything about you. About your value proposition, your knowledge, your expertise, your experience. It is an actual profession. The fact that you have gone to school and you have taken courses for it. The experience you've had in the number of years you've been buying or selling, and if you're a new REALTOR®, it's not even about the experience, but it's the reason why you became a REALTOR® in the first place, and the passion for the category or your interest in it.

I think while some of the competitors or some of the new entrance or the new players can come in and try to redefine themselves versus the current model of REALTORS®, our model is based on this simple concept of having a very smart human being help you navigate one of the most complicated processes in the world. Right?

Erin: Yes.

Subtej: I think that intrinsic value of the expertise, the knowledge, the community understanding, the technology and the tools that are available, all wrapped up into a single resource, is oftentimes easier, better, and gives you a better result than using some of the competitive do-it-yourself solutions out there.

Erin: Yes, because you've got so much on the line, and so you need someone who knows what they're doing and can take care of all of the details that you don't even have a clue might arise. It's a little bit like booking travel now without having someone to back you up if things go sideways.

Subtej: I think that's a perfect example of what has happened in the COVID post COVID world. We got very used to buying travel on our own through a myriad of technology solutions that were provided, but none of them had accounted for a global pandemic and what might happen when all flights around the world get canceled. Now you're seeing more and more people have started or will start to use travel agents again, because they're waiting online to talk to an airline representative, trying to spend hours on the phone, trying to shift or move a flight, trying to understand what the nuances are. That's a lot more expertise and knowledge you needed around a specific category than what any human really wanted to know. We just thought it was easier, faster, and cheaper, so why not do it in an online solution, but there's a whole bunch of knowledge that is required when things go wrong.

Fortunately, before COVID, nothing really went wrong, and so we got comfortable with the idea of buying our travel on our own, but when something does go wrong — I know we canceled a bunch of flights and we booked through a travel agent. It was really easy for me to make one call and that person sorted everything out for me, while I had friends and colleagues that spent weeks on a phone with Air Canada trying to shift some of their purchases or airlines. It's no fault of anyone's, it's just the reality of what happened.

Erin: A wake-up call.

Subtej: Yes. Sometimes underestimate and sometimes you re-estimate the value of that human interaction.

Erin: Right now, we have a special treat as we peek behind the scenes of a CREA TV and video ad, and look at the different moods that you project to, depending on when and where people are watching.

Subtej, we're going to do something now here that we've never done on the REAL TIME podcast. We're going to break for a commercial, but the good news is, it's one of yours.

Subtej: Perfect.

Erin: You can see this on, and the campaign is called Born to be a REALTOR®. Now, this particular ad titled doghouse opens with a little boy who's got a clipboard and is obviously an aspiring REALTOR®. He's selling a dog house to what looks like a German shepherd mix. Here's how it sounds.

Boy: This is a great home for a first-time buyer. The roof was recently redone, and it has unobstructed views of the mailbox, great for keeping the mailman, on his toes. Right, Dave?

There's only one bathroom, but it is quite large.

Announcement: He's showing a great big lawn.

Boy: My thoughts exactly, I’ll write up the offer.

Announcement: Dedication, knowledge, expertise. We were born to be REALTORS®. Get expert advice on the biggest transaction of your life.

Erin: They even fit in a little bark at the end. The ad wraps up with the same boy as a grown man who's fulfilled that dream and is now talking about a house to perspective buyers. Sub, it's just one of several that you've done. You did the one of the little girl inspecting the doll house, but in this case, this little boy, I think it's brilliant. Can you give our listeners an overview of the creative concept here? What's the core message of the campaign, and what were you aiming for? By the way, I can say, even before you answer, that you hit it beautifully.

Subtej: Perfect. Thank you. I think as some of the listeners will be familiar with, for years, we were on a strategy talking about some of the trials and tribulations that might occur if you decide to buy your house or sell your house on your own, and the value that a REALTOR® could provide, because we don't want this to be the biggest mistake or gamble in your life. As this year, we have started to evolve that strategy. This strategy this year is about showing the intrinsic passion and value that REALTORS® provide.

The fact that I think Canadians underestimate that REALTORS® who have gone into this profession have always wanted to be REALTORS®. They've always loved the idea of real estate and buying and selling homes, and we just wanted to put a nice little sense out here about, this is a profession that people care deeply about, and a profession that's been in our genes or our generations for a long, long time. I think what we're trying to build the new strategy about is highlighting some of the different value propositions like knowledge, like experience, like passion that demonstrate what a REALTOR® can do for you.

Erin: In your experience, do home buyers appreciate this kind of light-hearted advertising to see children having fun and to get the whole message, that being a REALTOR® is a calling? What's been your response to this ad, Sub?

Subtej: The response has been great so far, and I think what we have to understand is it's not only about the message we're conveying, but it’s what channel is this message being conveyed in. Oftentimes we have used video, television commercials or online video. What you have to understand is when people are watching television, or when people are surfing the internet to watch videos, they're really in a passive state. They're not looking for information, they're not researching anything. They're trying to sit back, relax and enjoy content.

The message that you convey, and what we often call that is, sometimes you're in a lean-back medium. You're leaning back and watching something happen. When you convey your message, you want your message to be conveyed in that lean-back notion as well, so we want to entertain you. We want to give you a small little smile. We want to brighten up your day, or we want to brighten up the messages that you're hearing from news channels, or what's going on in the world with a little bit of joy and humour, but still land the point in a nice, funny way that we were born to be REALTORS®. That this is a profession that people care deeply about, that this is a profession that carries a lot of respect and has a lot of experience.

We can say that we don't have to say that in a rational way, or put somebody out there that says, "Do you how much I love being a REALTOR®?" It's just a nice, fun, entertaining way of doing it.

Erin: Yes, no blah-blah-blah. I mean, honestly, you've got kids and dogs, come on.

Subtej: Yes, who doesn't like kids and dogs.

Erin: Exactly. If they don't, I don't want to know them. Also, Sub, you are fighting against the skip ad box on my YouTube that I've gone to, or the ubiquitous fast forward button on the remote. You have to grab them. I think about that so often now as we skip through the commercials to get to the next scene of Dateline or something. You're fighting that too. That's got to be an incredible challenge in the 21st century.

Subtej: It is, and I think when we look at research that's been published by the Googles or the Facebooks, they say the opening of any kind of commercial is more important than ever. There's many different tricks and tools to capture someone's interest. I think for us, using creative devices like children or dogs, they automatically trigger a bit of empathy or a bit of curiosity on, ‘Oh, what is this about? What is happening? What is going to happen?’

These are all tools we use in how we build creative solutions to engage a prospective consumer or gain some interest of a potential viewer. Sometimes there's great tricks that work to our advantage, and sometimes there's tricks like text on a screen. Oftentimes, people aren't that interested in reading about a bunch of bullet points going one after another because that's just too much information.

Erin: Especially if you're in the lean-back mode.

Subtej: Exactly, and you haven't told me, when these commercials come on as a brand, you haven't told me, "Hey, wait a second. I'm about to tell you about X." What we say is we try to build in content that looks like entertainment and leave you with a message. If you leave someone with a message that resonates, that oftentimes is way more successful than trying to push a message to somebody and make them absorb it, because you don't know what mood they're in. You don't know what is happening in their life. You don't know what is happening in the environment that the message is being communicated. You want people to retain your message. You want people to have an emotional response, a visceral response. When that visceral or emotional response is positive, you've gained some market share in their brain. You've gained some market share in their viewpoint of your product or service. I think that's what we're trying to continually build as we build out these campaigns.

Erin: Sub's back with us with a really memorable segment in a moment. Right now, let's talk REALTORS® for a sec. Not only are they experts at finding you the right home, a REALTOR® can help you get your house discovered. Find a local REALTOR® by visiting today.

Now back to Subtej Nijjar who's Union Creative is behind CREA's national ad campaign, and start the car, an ad he also had a hand in, and I promise you, we'll get to that. Coming up.

Interestingly, Subtej, I think that you're also planting a seed, and this goes back to our very first REAL TIME podcast with Terry O'Reilly when he talked about an ad way back in the 1930s, a newspaper ad for a Steinway piano. 30 years later, this guy walks into the piano store in New York City, with this old yellow newspaper ad. They said, "Why did you keep this?" He said, "Because I couldn't afford one then but I can afford one now."

It's that planting the seed. Your message is getting through to people who may be living in a one-bedroom, and one day their dream is to move into a house, and you're telling them, hey, when the time is right, come to CREA, we've got people who know how to do this.

Subtej: Totally. I think it's once again it's back to understanding the role of each channel and the right message that has to go into it. CREA has great tools and technologies like their mobile app, like their website that offer people who are currently in the market great resources to connect with REALTORS® or the ability to search and find what they're looking for.

The problem is, it's not like there's clear indicators where people are clearly raising their hand, telling you when they may or may not be in the market. What we want to get to is people to have a perception that no matter when you decide to go into the market, your first call should be to a REALTOR®. Your first way to contact should be a REALTOR®.

This is something that you have to build with a potential buyer or seller, is a child. It's something we want to constantly build over and over again so that we've ingrained it in their head that this is the value of using a REALTOR®, and as we evolve our strategy and as we talk about all the different value propositions that our REALTOR® takes, it's the totality of this that will help us change perceptions, and help create some differentiation versus some of the competitive offerings out there.

Erin: It really goes back to what Costa Poulopoulos told us a couple of months ago, communicate, communicate, communicate even if you don't think that the message is the right time for it to land in terms of the recipient of it. Make sure that your message is strong for when they're ready to take it in. Competitive, overly competitive. This isn't the time, is it?

Subtej: No, and I think that's the one thing. We know us as Canadians generally shy away from overtly competitive advertising. We're not the product A versus product B, and here's why my product is better than the competitor's product. We've always wanted to take a bit of a high road. We always want to take a bit of a sense of delivering on who we are and not at the detriment of somebody else.

I think coming out of COVID, that's something that we've seen as a society, we want to collectively help everybody. While everyone has individual concerns and may have maybe positively or negatively impacted by what has happened since COVID, but we want to grow as a group. We want to grow as a whole not as a bunch of individual parts.

I think you have to understand that if that is the context in which society operates, your messaging has to operate in that same context. Understand that this is the time that we may have to take a bit more of a softer approach. We may have to talk about a collective group of people versus just one attribute of our product that is better than somebody else's.

Erin: What can we look forward to? Can you tell us any stories here, Sub, about what the ads for CREA might be holding in the future? How long in advance do you plan?

Subtej: We plan on a yearly basis, and I think what we also have realized is, you put a plan in place and then you constantly revisit the plan because you don't know what is about to happen or what does happen in any given month. I think what we are about to do is, as I talked about, we've made a strategic shift from talking about some of the mistakes a potential buyer or seller could make if they went at it alone without using a REALTOR® previously, to now shifting to demonstrate different aspects of the value proposition. Different aspects of what all the different dimensions of REALTORS®. From passion, from the fact that they've what you see right now is they were born to do it. We'll constantly evolve this message to talk more about the different aspects of what we think makes using a REALTOR® a very smart choice.

From experience, to expertise, to knowledge, to evolving CREA as the code of conduct, there's a bunch of different things we can talk about. Slowly we will evolve the strategy to talk about many different things that REALTORS® can do and provide.

Erin: In a moment, what an old-time star said don't work with children or dogs? The answer coming up, plus the line from an iconic ad that we quote all the time that Sub had a hand in. You've heard the saying, I hope, it's one of my favourites ‘early to bed, early to rise work like heck and advertise.’ We're to go. There were 1.6 million searches for REALTORS® on last year alone. As a REALTOR®, make the most of those visits with the tools provided as part of your CREA membership.

We like to end the show every time with a fun segment whether it's an open house back and forth really quickly, but with you, I think I'd like to delve a little bit behind the scenes, open the curtain a little bit, Subtej, and tell us, do you have any fun or challenging stories? It was the old comic W.C. Fields who said never work with kids or animals. There you are in your commercials with both. How did that go?

Subtej: Obviously, it's always a challenge when you deal with children and animals because you never know what mood they're going to be in when you're trying to shoot. I think some of the stories that we've had on this shoot. We were just trying to make sure the dog stayed in a single place when you needed to shoot the scene. Or, making sure that the dog and the child interaction, because you actually know you talk about actors having chemistry, imagine the chemistry you're trying to create between a pet and a small child, and making sure that they got along and one wasn't afraid of the other and they both could hit their lines at the same time was quite a challenge. I think the interesting thing we had on this shoot was not only were we trying to accomplish a lot of video formats and different videos on the same shoot day.

When you deal with children, we end up having to have backups of potential children because you never know what mood that child may be in when you're about to shoot. Just organizing a bunch of different things and a bunch of different moments to hit all exactly at the same time was quite an endeavor.

Erin: I would imagine, and there are so many variables when you're shooting outside. I remember when we used to do our CHFITV ads and we'd go to different neighbourhoods and stuff and shooting outside invariably the neighbour decided that was the day he had to mow his lawn, or you were in the flight path. You've got so many things that can go sideways.

Subtej: We've been on shoots where we've had fire trucks come roaring down while you're recording.

Erin: It was that perfect take where the child and the dog were looking at each other like a Timmy and Lassie, and then all of a sudden there it goes, there are the sirens.

Subtej: I think the interesting thing is there are specific rules and regulations we have to abide by when we shoot with children and animals. When you shoot with an adult, you actually get a longer period of time of consistently shooting with somebody. When it comes to shooting with children or animals, you can only shoot for a specific duration. Then you have to give them a break. Then you can only shoot with them for a specific duration, then you have to give them a break again.

Sometimes you lose that momentum if a child actor doesn't feel like acting at the moment and they start to act near the end of the duration you have them for, then you have to stop and pick it up all over again. It does become challenging but it's well worth it when you see the end result.

Erin: Sub, I could not help but notice in your bio, IKEA, are you the man behind, "Start the car."?

Subtej: Yes, I was, unfortunately, one of the team members that helped to bring that to life. Back in my days at another agency, we had the privilege of working with IKEA who are fantastic clients. To this day, one of the best consumer insights for sale that I think has been done in retail advertising was that the notion around start the car where our deals are so good. It almost feels like stealing.

Erin: You do know, of course, that's become part of the lexicon. I know it is in our house.

Subtej: Yes, it is, and to be honest, it's become the lexicon across the world. That ad that was shot for the Canadian client ended up running in, I think almost 16 markets in 16 different languages, and no matter which market or which language or where you'd show it in the world, it resonates the exact same way.

Erin: Oh, my goodness.

Subtej: I think we ended on a really cool universal truth.

Erin: Yes, you did. You did. Okay. Well, thank you for that.

Subtej: Thanks a lot.

Erin: Thanks to Subtej Nijjar, partner at Union Creative, the agency behind CREA's terrific national ad campaign, which you can see at He makes watching commercials worthwhile. Who does that? Sub does.

We've gotten some amazing advice from Sub this episode, but I need to ask you a question now, what's the best piece of real estate advice you've received during your career? Has someone shared bulletproof marketing insights or profound thoughts on managing client relationships? We want to hear about advice you've received that had a positive impact on your career. Just call 1-888-768-6793. That's 1-888-768-6793, and leave us a message. Hopefully, it'll be shared in our next episode. Maybe like this call.

Ingrid Jarisz: Hello. It's Ingrid Jarisz with Newport Realty Christie's International. I'm a licensed agent here in beautiful Victoria, B.C, and have been in the business for several decades. As you know, real estate can be extremely stressful and everybody handles it differently, but I think as a calm, collected and patient voice and guidance through what can be a challenging time for most, definitely has paid off and would be my number one piece of advice to pass along to my fellow colleagues. Take a deep breath, be patient, put your good listening ears on, and enjoy the journey.

Erin: Thank you, Ingrid Jarisz of Newport Realty Sydney in beautiful British Columbia.

REAL TIME podcast comes to you from Real Family Productions and Rob Whitehead and Alphabet® Creative. Don't forget to click subscribe and you'll catch our next podcast. This is so exciting, is Sarah Richardson. You know this award designer and television personality. Sarah is the host and co-producer of eight HGTV lifestyle series, which are seen in over 100 countries. Soon to be heard right here on REAL TIME. I'm Erin Davis, talk to you again soon, and don't forget to subscribe. Bye.