Technology Solutions

Coming Attractions

Movie marketing shows potential tenants what properties have to offer.

In an age where video is king, it is no surprise that the newest generation of commercial real estate marketing technology is making movies. While by no means mainstream, using cinematic techniques such as plot, characters, and themes to tell a building’s “story” is helping some large-scale commercial property owners secure tenants. These movies aim to be immersive, offering potential tenants a view of what it would be like to inhabit the space.

A Visual Story

Cinematic techniques such as virtual tours have been used for years, mostly in high-end residential properties. But today’s forward-thinking commercial property owners are teaming up with computer graphics companies to create marketing videos that give their properties an edge in a competitive market.

To tell a property’s story, the videos are designed to be very thorough, examining every inch of the space. For example, a recent client video begins with the last sheet of glass on a future office building being set in place through computer visualization. Next, the company’s chief executive officer character arrives, and viewers witness the transformation of raw space into an ideal office. The video then leads viewers through the different areas of the office, highlighting various amenities as the property is prepared for the tenant’s first day of occupancy. The amenities include a cafe with outdoor seating, a fitness center, and several conference centers and multimedia locations.

Once everything from the interior to the exterior is shown, the CEO turns off the lights, satisfied with the accomplishments of making the raw space into an ideal office, which concludes the video. The building is officially ready to greet the next phase of its life, including its future occupants.

To make marketing movies as realistic and visually appealing as possible, it is essential to identify a building’s personality and bring that personality to life by incorporating professional models and actors into the scene along with 3-D animations. These combined elements lead to a property’s visual story.

The Value of Video

While traditional virtual tours are good for evaluating a building’s design, they are not the most compelling way to grab potential tenants’ attention. In virtual tours, a camera simulates a walk down a hallway, moves through doors, and enters and exits rooms — repeating the process several times. Viewers spend too much time watching walls slide by instead of seeing the actual space.

In contrast, modern movie technology can convey the feeling of a space in a 10-second shot. And instead of using voiceovers describing technical details such as floor plans and dimensions, the movie tells the story while the rest of the particulars are on the property’s Web site or in a brochure. The presentation’s goal is to communicate the experiences and assets of the commercial property with a brand message that resonates in viewers’ minds, leaving a lasting impression.

Behind the Scenes

The first step to achieving a high-quality marketing video is a brainstorming session. Property owners collaborate with designers to reach consensus on the goals for the video presentation. That session leads to a creative concept and written treatment of what the footage will show. Next, camera shots and animation sequences are sketched and placed on storyboards. Then, a crew of designers, project managers, stylists, photographers, writers, directors, architects, artists, and computer technicians begin production.

For example, a commercial real estate client in New York wanted to market its upcoming renovation of a skyscraper. The company wanted to ensure that prospective tenants understood that the makeover would be extensive, both inside and out. With the renovation, its clients effectively would have the unique opportunity to re-brand the tower in their own corporate image.

While the movie was made prior to construction, it still conveyed that the tower would look completely different, shifting from an outdated façade to a modern exterior of glass and steel. Because the renovation was so dramatic, clients interested in the space could consider it as a potential corporate headquarters site. In the video, the building owners wanted to make sure they conveyed that this asset was a true trophy property.

Filmmakers and digital artists produced a three-minute movie that incorporated maps, live city shots, actors, and 3-D visualizations. The movie focused on the proximity of the building to transportation and city landmarks and showed office workers using the transformed space. The crux of the dramatization showed an aerial view of the tower being re-skinned in glass.

Within six months, the building had secured two marquee tenants to occupy major portions of the space with long-term leases. Negotiations also were in progress for the majority of the remaining space.

Depending on a project’s details and story techniques used, it generally takes about eight to 12 weeks to produce a marketing film. Prices for these videos vary based on the mix of technical elements used.

The Return on Creativity

With the volatility of the current commercial real estate market, creative technology-based marketing approaches are increasingly important to help projects stand out from the competition. Not only do these cutting-edge movies sell potential clients on the features and amenities of a new space, they also can portray a certain lifestyle and target specific audiences. For instance, if a new office space is targeted to high-tech startup companies with young employees and no formal dress code, the movie scenes can depict this type of environment. Often, clients show scenes that go beyond the office, detailing the area surrounding the building, which can include the type of housing available near the office.

The return on investment in these films is proven by commercial real estate professionals who have had success signing tenants — realizing the storytelling helped secure the deal. The emotional response the videos elicit makes prospective clients look at projects in a new way. Whether it is seeing the potential for a new corporate headquarters or the versatility a space can provide, brokers find that the marketing efforts put into the movies have captured the allure of the project.

Commercial real estate marketing must translate into generating new business. The more competitive the market, the more creative commercial real estate professionals must be with their marketing techniques. Using innovative movie technology is one of today’s most progressive ways to make an impression on tenants and close deals.

Robert MacLeod

Robert MacLeod is the president and founder of Neoscape, a Boston-based full-service marketing/creative agency that focuses on the real estate sector. Contact him at (617) 345-0330 or [email protected] To see example movies, visit Neoscape’s Web site at www.neoscape.com.

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