By Danny Kucharsky

A tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign by the Canadian Real Estate Association is offering relief in the form of tea to consumers who are considering not using a Realtor to buy or sell a home.

CREA’s Real Tea campaign aims to provide a dose of reality to people who go solo by offering six “delicious blends to soothe the woes of not using a Realtor” during the home buying and selling process.

Available at, the teas have names like Negotiation Nerve-Ana (“Find serenity and calm before another battle with your buyer”), Steeped Price (“Put how much you overpaid out of your mind”) and Property Power-Up (“Add some pop to the prep for your millionth open house”). Designed by Pluck Tea, the blends were formulated to match their names.

The Real Tea campaign included a one-day pop-up event on King Street West in downtown Toronto.
The Real Tea campaign included a one-day pop-up event on King Street West in downtown Toronto.

“We specifically designed the tea to sooth the stresses that come along with navigating the real estate market without a Realtor,” says CREA board member Barb Sukkau, the 2016-2017 chair of CREA’s national advertising campaign committee. “We’re always trying to think of new creative ways to promote using a Realtor. We thought this was a unique idea.”

The campaign talks about things that would make DIYers feel stressful or uncomfortable, from holding multiple open houses to endless paperwork, she says.

It aims to convince people who are on the fence about using a Realtor about the potential pitfalls of not using one, adds Lance Martin, executive creative director of Union, the advertising agency that created the campaign.

“With the do-it-yourself culture, everyone thinks they can sort of watch a YouTube video and do everything themselves,” he says. “There are a lot of risks, paperwork and legal things you might not be aware of that might get you into trouble if you don’t use a professional.”

CREA’s ad campaigns for the last several years have focused on reinforcing the importance of using a Realtor when buying or selling real estate, says Sukkau, who is a sales rep at Royal LePage Niagara Real Estate Centre in St. Catharines, Ont.

The Real Tea campaign is an extension of CREA’s larger No Regrets campaign of the last few years, which includes a TV spot of a couple who did not use a Realtor and buy a house in a neighbourhood dominated by a biker gang. An older spot shows a police SWAT team raiding a house in the middle of the night – a misunderstanding that a Realtor may have helped to avoid.

The ads have won awards from the Canadian Marketing Association, Advertising & Design Club of Canada and Marketing Magazine.

More importantly, surveys have found that consumers are more likely to choose a Realtor after seeing the TV commercials than they were before, Sukkau says. “We’re moving the needle in the right direction. We just want to make sure that the Realtor is always front and centre, top-of-mind.”

The tea “reinforces the message that there are risks associated with not using a Realtor,” says Kimberlee Welch, group account director at Union. “It provides you with a temporary relief but it won’t provide you with long-term relief, which you will get if you use a Realtor.”

The digital campaign includes three 20-second animated videos on Facebook and Instagram. The Real Tea website will be up until at least the end of the year.

Consumers can obtain two free 20 – 40 g sample bags of their favourite Real Tea blends (shipping costs of about $8 not included).

The website notes that “if somehow a cup of tea doesn’t solve all of your real estate problems, consult a Realtor who has the expertise the largest transaction of your life deserves.”

The Real Tea campaign also included a one-day pop-up event in late October on King Street West in downtown Toronto. During what turned out to be a blustery day, 620 cups of steeped tea were served and 130 packages of tea were handed out.

The pop-up was covered by several local lifestyle bloggers and news sites, and Sukkau was interviewed by The Huffington Post on Facebook Live.

Sukkau, who was at the pop-up all day, says people told her, “I can’t believe anybody would not use a Realtor.”

In addition, as part of the No Regrets campaign, contains testimonials from people who have experienced problems by not hiring a Realtor to buy or sell their home.

“When a Realtor is saying, ‘You have to use a Realtor,’ that’s one thing, but when we’ve actually got consumers who have had bad experiences saying, ‘Gee, I wish I had used a Realtor,’ that’s really powerful,” Sukkau says.

CREA has an annual budget of about $7 million for advertising, with most of the spend going toward media buying.

Quebec boards do their own advertising and receive a reduction in CREA dues as a result.

Sukkau would not reveal CREA’s advertising plan for next year but is confident that “it’s going to be fabulous.” Ideas from the ad agency were reviewed at the national ad campaign committee and were recently tested by consumers and Realtors at full-day events in Calgary and Toronto.

“I really think the national ad campaign overall is doing its job,” she says. “The consumer and the public are paying attention.”


  1. This is just about as stupid an ad campaign as I can think of, and I sincerely thought the motor-bike gang ad could never be dislodged from that position. Who’s brother-in-law thinks this stuff up?

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