Is Jeff Goldblum getting ready to take part in another Hollywood blockbuster like “Independence Day” or “Jurassic Park”?
The actor, known for his flair for playing action-oriented-but-erudite scientists in movies ranging from “The Fly” to “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension,” can now be spotted in his newest role. In short, teaser-like ads that have turned up in post-season football and Sunday night’s Grammys show, Goldblum emerges as a crowd of soldiers and scientists gaze at some entity that emits a bright light. “I may have misread the situation,” he says as ominous music plays.
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Viewers quickly see graphics that identify a social-media hashtag, #TheyAreHereToStay, which is said to be “Coming in February.” Those who scan some fine print that pops on the bottom of the screen in the spot’s closing seconds might notice that the spot is “A Bellflower Pictures Production in Association With Apartments.com.”
Now we’re getting somewhere!
There is already online speculation asking whether Apartments.com is heading to the advertising roster of Super Bowl LVIII, slated to air February 11 on CBS. The company has been there before. In 2016, Goldblum, who has played the advertising character Brad Bellflower for Apartments.com for about a decade, appeared in a Big Game spot crafted by ad agency RPA that had him playing a version of the theme from the sitcom “The Jeffersons” and telling viewers they would be “movin’ on up” if they used the company’s listings service.
Executives from both Apartments.com and RPA aren’t talking specifically about where the teasers may lead, but acknowledge they see it as “a creative way to stir up some chatter,” says Fred Saint, president of CoStar Marketplaces, parent company of Apartments.com.
The ad “has a big movie feel to it,” he adds. “It has a big-stage feel to it. It has a lot of drama to it.”
Ads that emulate movie trailers tend to do well. In 2018, Yum Brands’ Taco Bell launched a TV commercial for its then-new Nacho Fries that looked just like a sneak preview a viewer might see at the local bijou. The nonexistent film depicted in the spot was called “Web of Fries,” and starred actor Josh Duhamel as a man consumed with bringing fries seasoned with Mexican spices and dipped in warm nacho cheese to greater renown — only to find “the burger people” will do anything they can to block him. Taco Bell sold 53 million orders of the new offering in the first five weeks of the campaign.
TV viewers tend to look at many movie trailers not as commercials, but as content. The audience watching those videos might get a first look at an A-list star playing a favorite character from a book or super-hero universe, or see early scenes from a much-anticipated project.
Goldblum’s Brad Bellflower character — billed in Apartment.com ads as a technology entrepreneur with a mission to make Apartments.com “the place to find a place” — has helped the company set itself apart from the pack, says Saint. The figure “allows us to really entertain the audience,” the executive says, rather than following along with most rivals who place more emphasis on the nuts and bolts of their rental services. “No one in the rental space had ever had a spokesperson or, frankly, had ever done a branding campaign” at the time Goldblum was identified by RPA as a good candidate for the role.
Now fans must figure out what Bellflower — or Goldblum — is up to. What is the situation he might have misread? Chances are the answers will be unveiled in the not too distant future.
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