Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv
Realtor.com’s latest branded content endeavor is Beyond the Block, a four part reality series focused on helping home buyers get to know the far reaches of their prospective communities and neighborhoods before buying a home. The show is hosted by Los Angeles real estate professional Andrew Tyree, who guides his series guests, helping them become more familiar with what will soon be their new neighborhood.
Realtor.com has partnered with Tastemade to produce - a fitting partnership since Tastemade has spent the last couple of years expanding their brand to cover the concept that making taste extends to travel, lifestyle, and the home. The traditional Tastemade audience is now in the first-time home-buying age range, making a partnership like this one appealing to realtor.com. Brand Storytelling caught up with realtor.com's SVP, Brand, Social & Creative Andrew Strickman to learn more about the motivations and process behind developing and producing Beyond the Block:
Good to chat again Andrew. What were realtor.com’s brand, social, and creative needs ahead of producing this series?
Over the last few years, we’ve built out a multi-platform approach to telling the realtor.com story — traditional advertising, social media storytelling, internally developed digital content series and brand storytelling with a range of partners including the Golden State Warriors, Cirque du Soleil, Money magazine, CNN’s Courageous and BuzzFeed. We recognize that any one of these efforts would not achieve all of our goals, but focusing on our primary target of first-time homebuyers and a strategy of how to reach them consistently and with originality, we knew that adding Tastemade to the mix was the right choice.
What department is responsible for ideating, developing, and collaborating on a project like this? What does that team look like?
I lead a team of 23, spread across brand marketing, partnerships/content, social media and creative. Our team develops projects internally, as well as in partnership with our agencies and with platform partners like Tastemade. One of the best things about Brand Storytelling is that I’ve met and had exposure to so many interesting potential partners. Both our CNN Courageous project, and the Tastemade “Beyond the Block” series originated out of conversations I had at Elevate and the Sundance events.
The Tastemade project was developed creatively over the course of 9 months with our Sr. Director of Partnerships & Special Projects, Maureen Schimmel, and our Sr. Brand Marketing Manager, Alexandra Rodriguez, working day-to-day with the team at Tastemade to bring this programming to life.
What best enabled the team to get approval and the financial support needed to produce Beyond the Block?
The extended time frame of production development and media investment helped to spread costs over the course of a few quarters, but we’ve always believed in investing budget in unique content experiences that allow us to tell the realtor.com story in real, creative ways. We had support from our CMO, and from our executive team throughout the process.
With stuff like Architectural Digest-style in-home content currently achieving peak popularity on YouTube, why choose to create a series that extends beyond the home, out into neighborhoods?
Our brand mission and beliefs center around the idea that everyone deserves to find a home that’s right for them. A home is not just four walls and a roof, but rather the unique combination of structure, community, culture and people who make up a neighborhood. That is what “Beyond the Block” sets out to do — to stand apart from the puffery of many home buying reality shows, and showing what home means to real people with real needs.
Where did you find host Andrew Tyree and why was he the right fit to represent this series?
Andrew was incredible from the moment we first saw his casting tape. We worked closely with the Tastemade team to identify a range of potential hosts. The fact that Andrew was a Realtor, was actually not a requirement, but truly made his role that much more credible and important for every episode.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact the series?
The pandemic hit, and the country started to shut down as we left Raleigh, NC and headed to Fort Collins, CO to film the final episode of the season. We ultimately postponed the release of the series until after we were able to get back to Fort Collins to shoot that episode. Because of that delay, we were also able to follow up with each of the homebuyers in the earlier markets, along with many of the businesses we visited to see how the pandemic had impacted their lives.
Let the people know, where can they enjoy Beyond the Block?
Beyond the Block season one is available in full on Tastemade's streaming network, YouTube, Roku, Amazon Prime Video, and via the Apple TV+ app.
About Andrew Strickman
Andrew has spent two decades as a creative leader, marketer, strategist and media obsessive focused on drawing consumers and brands closer together through rich, joint storytelling. He leads brand and creative at realtor.com, a subsidiary of News Corp.