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Savills Uses March Madness to Promote Its Rebrand

The American institution known as “March Madness” draws to an end with the college basketball championship game tonight. Hidden inside the collegiate fandom and rapid-fire game schedule was an important announcement for the property industry. One of the commercials that has been showing during the tournament is for the fifth largest commercial property firm, Savills.

The prime ad space features an inspirational message that, as someone that has to come up with ad copy about this kind of thing, I couldn’t help but admire:

It is not a space, it is an incubator for achievement. It is not square footage it is a magnet for talent. It is not property leased, it is your workforce unleashed.

And has a succinct, punchy tagline: “Amplify the power of people.”

It is part of a rebranding campaign associated with changing the companies name from Savills Studley to just Savills. The name change is not the only new thing happening at Savills. They have partnered with AI technology company Leverton to offer a real estate intelligence platform called Knowledge Cubed. The claim is that this technology can pull data from leases, contracts and other docs to create visualizations 30 percent faster than human. They also recently launched a global online workspace listing platform and advisory service called Workthere.

Savills Studley was tenant rep firm that was a subsidiary of London-based real estate advisory Savills. I talked to North American Chairman and CEO Mitchell S. Steir about the company’s direction. “While traditionally known in the U.S. for office tenant representation, we have successfully grown our capital markets and industrial practices, with retail soon to follow. Over the past five years, we have expanded our offering with complementary services in portfolio solutions, consulting, workforce and incentives strategy, workplace strategy and occupant experience, and project management,” he said.

The company is very large internationally and is gaining a lot of traction in North America in ‘the last few years. Steir told me he doesn’t see this growth slowing down for a while, “Savills has over 36,000 employees working together in more than 70 countries across Asia Pacific, Continental Europe, the Middle East, North America and the U.K. We have achieved substantial growth in the U.S. and Canada over the past five years. We now have over 800 employees, up from 575 in 2014. Our transactional revenue has increased by more than 55 percent, and gross global fees from cross-border transactions has increased at an annual rate of 122 percent. We anticipate significant growth in North America over the next three years.”

I asked why the NCAA Tournament represented the best ad spend. Steir and his team obviously did a lot of research before writing what was probably a very large check. He told me, “Effective marketing leaves the viewer with a clear impression of the values and strengths of the company. Our pledge to our stakeholders, “amplify the power of people,” reaffirms our ability to develop occupancy and capital markets solutions that optimize client spaces and drive productivity and profitability. We think smarter and more strategically than others, which is the reason we are the first firm in our space to advertise during the NCAA tournament games. They are timely and give us the greatest reach to share that commitment across our primary, secondary and tertiary target audiences.”

Only a few people inside the organization will ever know the ROI for the campaign but it is inline with what leaders in almost every industry strive for: unified brand image, powerful message, targeted reach, sophisticated but approachable. It is a similar strategy to the add that ADT ran during the Super Bowl. If these kinds of commercials work we might see a lot more office related advertising in some of the most prised ad inventory on television or off.

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