The Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association has completed the first phase of its Get Home Atlanta ad campaign, an effort launched this fall to persuade people that now is a good time to buy a new home.

Through widespread local and some national media coverage, free and discounted advertising, and tens of thousands of bumper stickers and yard signs sporting the campaign's orange logo, Get Home Atlanta leveraged $336,000 in donations to generate an estimated $1.4 million worth of exposure, says Ray Bouley, president of Atlanta-based Full Circle Real Estate Marketing.

"It was so crazy over the top," Bouley says. "Not in our wildest dreams did we think we'd have the equivalent of that."

The campaign, which began on Sept. 15 and ran through mid-November, also drew more than 9,000 unique visitors to the association's Web site. Among them were two home buyers who won a week's vacation in Florida and a catered party at an Atlanta Thrashers hockey game, both of which were donated by HBA members for consumers who pre-qualified for a mortgage.

"It did exactly what we wanted it to do--raise awareness. People said, 'I keep seeing these orange signs. What does it mean?'" says David Ellis, executive vice president of the Greater Atlanta HBA. "One of the things we weren't expecting...was for everybody to jump up out of a zombie-like sleep and start buying houses."

Another benefit of the campaign has been a sense of unity among local home builders to promote a common message.

"This is a real testament to what you can do when you work together," says Steve Palmer, CFO of Duluth, Ga.-based Bowen Family Homes and incoming president of the Greater Atlanta HBA. "Everyone seems to get it that we need a healthy industry for each of us to succeed. We all need to be singing from the same choir book."

Fund raising is underway now for the second phase of the campaign, scheduled to begin in late January. It will focus on getting the message out about why it's a good time to buy a house. The second phase will include meetings with the editorial boards of local media and opinion page articles to try and balance out prevailing messages about the housing market.

"The stories in the local press aren't wrong," Ellis says, "but they're not telling the whole story."

Palmer says he plans to continue pushing in 2008 for more positive media coverage in the Atlanta market.

"We're not for reporting things that are not the truth, but I don't feel like we need to talk down the market," he says. "We're not a bubble market. When you tally up the numbers, we're down about 15 percent."

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Atlanta, GA.