I’m not sure we needed all of the (Century 21 – style) gold jackets, 4 women to 1 (bumbling) man ratio and house pocket logo imagery to get the stereotype being portrayed in this AT&T Mobile television commercial.  It is played over and over and I find it really annoying. The gold jacket stereotype has appeared in movies, ie War Games, Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore.

This tv ad use of props to convert the stereotype is intended to insure that the viewers understand that these people are aggressive, almost cartoonish, real estate sales agents. There are plenty of sales related industries with exaggerated stereotypes like used car salesman, stock brokers and insurance salesmen (of course some would argue they are accurate portrayals).


The gold jacket was a marketing idea from the 1970s designed to thwart another company’s use of red jackets. And do you remember ABC’s Wide World of Sports Blazer?

Appraisers are also stereotyped as wearing polyester blazers (infers they are out of touch), carrying clipboards (most still do) and a “wheel” or tape measure.  All fairly benign when compared to the C21 gold jacket.

I wrote about this back in 2006 back in the early days of this Matrix blog.

Century 21 ended the gold jack requirement way back in 1996 but tried to implement again in what one would argue as a failed 2008 rebranding – but the stereotype lives on.

Should the real estate brokerage industry combat this portrayal? Is it too late? Does it even matter?


  1. Confidence Stimpson June 29, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Yes, the gold jacket stereotype is terrible. What’s worse is the stereotype that we are all dishonest, unethical, mercenary, and invariably put our own interests ahead of everyone else’s.

    • Jonathan Miller July 1, 2014 at 8:41 am

      Yes, and appraisers also have an image problem but for completely different reasons.

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  3. David Hamilton July 3, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Jonathan, the other stereotype for agents and brokers is that they are all “housewives” or “dropouts” who do nothing more than post a property on the MLS or related websites, and wait for buyers to sniff around. This is a terribly overplayed, overused, and inaccurate portrayal of the many professional real estate agents I work with almost daily.

    To address your questions, though, the industry should fight these stereotypes indirectly by highlighting all the good things (and hard work) that realtors do. Not sure it’s too late to start, but in the absence of a strong voice from the industry, people will listen to anyone who makes a noise (like the ATT&T commercial). Lastly, it matters to me as an investor and speaker. I’m not particularly interested in seeing an agent’s mug on a billboard or business card. I am interested in results and professionalism.

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