Sometimes the best things happen when there is nothing to lose. Such was the case when Naples, Fla.–based B-Squared Advertising was invited to pitch Jack Parker Homes in Fort Myers, Fla., for the Lighthouse Beach account. It was up against the existing ad agency and figured the only way to have a shot was to come out with both barrels blazing. And did it ever.

The team started out by telling their prospective client that the New England nautical theme for the project was “the totally wrong approach,” says B-Squared partner Robyn Bonaquist. They unveiled a completely new concept, including a new name, Mastique, which is a derivative of Mustique, a world-class private island in the West Indies frequented by rock stars.

They got the gig.

B-Squared's marketing approach focused on ads with the feel of vintage Florida travel posters. No renderings, no site plans, and no beach chairs. “In Florida, all you ever see are those two stupid chairs on the beach and palm trees over the setting sun,” Bonaquist says.

Then there was the direct mail campaign to the real estate community, which hadn't been too keen on selling the project because the commission program hadn't really wowed them. B-Squared axed the normal postcards and newsletters and decided to send three “memorable” pieces. The first was a travel poster, a pair of sunglasses, and an insulated cup holder in a tube. That was followed by a postcard on balsa wood to make it stand out from the daily deluge of mail agents receive. The final piece was a CD with an original musical score (that is catchy enough for people to actually want to listen to it) with information on both the units and the new and improved commission program.

DIVE IN: The Mastique campaign featured original artwork (above and lower left) reminiscent of vintage Florida resort travel posters.
DIVE IN: The Mastique campaign featured original artwork (above and lower left) reminiscent of vintage Florida resort travel posters.

In follow-up surveys with local agents, Bonaquist got the ultimate compliment on the campaign: A Realtor told her, “If you were a Realtor in South Florida, you had to be dead or living under a rock to not know about Mastique.”

Marketing to the public included direct mail and heavy advertising in local newspapers and magazines and on radio, plus a visually exciting Web site.

The interest list was so large, the developer opted for a lottery to handle the initial sales release. All 66 units were reserved the day of the lottery, which might not seem that impressive in a hot real estate market, but Mastique launched two days after the war in Iraq broke out.

And what did all this cost the builder? About the sales price of one unit.

Category: Best overall ad campaign; Project: Mastique, Fort Myers, Fla.; Builder: Jack Parker Homes, Fort Myers; Ad agency: B-Squared Advertising, Naples, Fla.

BOTTOM LINE Number of units: 132

Price range: $400,000 to more than $1 million

Date opened for sale: February 2003

Sales volume: Phase one sold out; phase two 95 percent sold

Total traffic: 30 to 40 per week

Cost of campaign: $500,000

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Cape Coral, FL, Naples, FL.