I just saw that picture above on Facebook today. I don’t know the man, and he could be the best real estate agent ever to walk the earth. He could be a charming, personable, ethically upright family man who should be running for President in 2016 to save the country.
But man, that billboard ad is awful on so many levels.
But this post isn’t about Mr. Chris Clarke, “The Real Estate Guy”. This post is about RE/MAX whose logo is prominently displayed on this billboard. And while RE/MAX is the company in this case, one can easily imagine that any other brand, any brokerage, and even local, state, and national Association of REALTORS(R) could face this same issue. If Chris Clarke had prominently put “REALTOR(R)” after his name in the billboard above, NAR would also be implicated in this as RE/MAX is.
Here’s the issue: Real Estate desperately needs a Roger Goodell. Maybe even several Roger Goodells at every company and organization.
For those who might not know, Roger Goodell is the current commissioner of the NFL. His big accomplishments to date have been to piss off a ton of NFL players for handing down giant fines for violent hits, for going after the New Orleans Saints for “Bountygate“, and of course, the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.
Under the Personal Conduct Policy, Roger Goodell has made it clear that what a NFL player or coach does off the field is within his purview. Went to a strip club and got into a fight during the off-season when you’re not working? Goodell might be suspending you for a few games. Put your hands on your woman during an argument and the cops got called? Bet your ass Roger’s gonna be on the phone with you. Cries of “You ain’t my daddy” or “I don’t work for you” or “Mind your own business” or any such protest have been met with steely resolve on the part of Roger.
He will make your off-field conduct his business, because his business, as he sees it, is to “protect the Shield” and to protect the integrity of the NLF brand.
And lest anyone in the NFL remained confused, Goodell sent out a memo in April of 2010 making his intentions and his expectations crystal clear:
The Policy makes clear that NFL and club personnel must do more than simply avoid criminal behavior. We must conduct ourselves in a way that ‘is responsible, that promotes the values upon which the league is based, and is lawful.’ This standard reflects the recognition that the conduct and behavior of our players and other league and team employees is critically important. Whether it involves your team or another, these incidents affect us all — every investigation, arrest, or other allegation of improper conduct undermines the respect for our league by our fans, lessens the confidence of our business partners and threatens the continued success of our brand. [Emphasis added]
Might I suggest to RE/MAX higher ups that billboards like the one above undermines the respect for your brand by consumers, lessens the confidence of your business partners, and threatens the continued success of your brand? Might I suggest that you create some new position of Brand Commissioner to police these kinds of activities?
And in a larger sense, since we were just talking about the “value and relevance” of the REALTOR Association, from the NAR down to the local, might I suggest that NAR consider following the example of Roger Goodell? Frankly, Roger doesn’t see an incident by a Pittsburgh Steeler as just a Steeler matter; he considers it a negative for the entire NFL brand. RE/MAX might be the one most directly impacted by this billboard, but if you think that consumers will make a distinction between RE/MAX and every other real estate agent or REALTOR out there, you’ve got another thing coming.
Maybe NAR and the local/state Associations need to think long and hard about whether they should have a Roger Goodell or three? Maybe they need to consider whether issues like this or ethics complaints should be handled discreetly, away from the public eye, swept under the rug, and otherwise kept quiet… or be dealt with openly, so that the public can see exactly what it is that the REALTOR(R) brand does and does not stand for?
Your brand is not in the hands of your best and brightest. It’s in the hands of your worst agents. All of the positives of people like Drew Brees and Tom Brady and Dhani Jones and the hundreds of other NFL players who do the right thing, contribute to the community, and improve the NFL brand can be undone by a single Pacman Jones.
Because the work of thousands of real estate professionals, who recognize that divorce is a painful, sensitive time for a family, that might necessitate selling their house out of personal crisis… that can be undone by a single billboard suggesting that the only thing a REALTOR(R) gives a crap about is buying a larger house and collecting the commission.
Roger Goodell protects the shield. Who protects the R?