Archive for August, 2007

Point of no return

August 28, 2007

Red Point Squamish

So let me get this straight. Hiking equals trees. Après hiking equals granny smith apples in a dish. Red Point is a condo and townhouse development in Squamish. As great as the forest is, the fruit bowl in the kitchen is even better.

Right.

If this is the kind of logic game that excites you, then I’d encourage you to register to learn more about the “adventure homes” at Red Point.

Sotheby’s International Realty Canada is the “exclusive offerer” of Red Point. Sotheby’s, we are told by their copy, is a name “synonymous with quality.” I like to think of them as the antonym of modesty.

The autioneer’s pompousness clearly shows in the marketing of the development. The name Red Point is a metaphor for rock-climbing success. “From hiking to biking, from kite surfing to beach walking, Red Point isn’t just a place to call home. It’s your home base for an exceptional life.”

I’d like to hear someone spew that spin in conversation and not get themselves laughed out of the room. Imagine your buddy Joe telling Mary, “It’s not so much a townhouse as it is a home base. For all my adventure needs. It’s exceptional, really.”

In mentioning Joe and Mary, I owe a debt to the Red Point Living Blog where the characters were first introduced. In typical corporate-blog fashion, this blog is dead on arrival. Launched August 10, the thing boasts two posts — the first of which consists of “content” that begs readers to “visit the blog often.”

For those who kept checking the blog for the next ten days, nothing would be there to warrant the visits. However, on the eleventh day, Red Point’s director of sales comes out of hiding to pony up deep thoughts about how “it’s better to buy real estate and wait than to wait and buy real estate.”

Anyone looking for a name synonymous with hype?

Controversy at Olympic Court

August 21, 2007

Olympic Court | 10289 133rd Street, Surrey

An open letter to the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games:

Recently I came across a very informative page on your website detailing the urgency of protecting the Olympic Brand. I found it interesting to learn of the many legal and trademark protections designed to prevent unauthorized association with the Olympic Movement.

A brand, Olympic or otherwise, is an important business asset. Companies that fail to protect their names and marks may very well see their brands hijacked by competitors, or worse. One can only imagine the implications of, say, a blogger with negative sentiments whose writing about condo marketing consistently comes up higher in Google than official condo websites. But I digress.

I write today to alert you to a residential development named Olympic Court at 10289 133rd Street in Surrey. Based on my understanding of Olympic Brand guidelines, I fear this development may be infringing on the trademark rights of VANOC and the International Olympic Committee. I am informed by this language in the Olympic Brand FAQ:

Businesses that began using the word “Olympic” (or similar terms) in their names or marks after January 1998 without the permission of VANOC, the COC or the IOC will be required to change their names and marks and stop using all symbols that suggest a connection to the Olympic Movement.

In order to allow for a truly impartial investigation, I leave it to VANOC to identify the particular aspect of this development which may be deemed to contravene brand protection guidelines.

In the spirit of 2010,

condohype

Fortune cookie taglines

August 16, 2007

The Harris at Brentwood Gate

As crazy as it is that people are willing to drop a half million to “live the lifestyle” at The Harris at Brentwood Gate, it is even more troubling to think that an ad such as this could actually motivate anyone to do it.

Not all masterpieces are created on canvas, eh? Yeah, well not all geniuses work in condo marketing.

Seriously, who comes up with this bunk? This is the kind of crap you’d expect in a fortune cookie. Thinking of fortune cookies, why pay a marketer to come up with this stuff when a quick snack at Jane’s Restaurant on East Hastings can supply you with all the taglines you need. For example:

A king’s castle is his home.

It is the wise bird who builds his nest in a tree.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves.

These three gems cost me less than ten bucks and included a plate of delicious sweet and sour pork that I shared with two friends. Now that’s value for money. I’d be surprised if the “condo brand consultancies” even bother to buy their clients coffee.

If you don’t like those taglines, just ask Jane for a few extra cookies. Who knows, you might come across a classic like this:

An idea is not responsible for the people who believe in it.

Now that’s funny.

Crossing but not cross-dressing

August 14, 2007

The Crossing

Inevitably, all great bloggers land a book deal. While condohype is far from the stratosphere of Fake Steve Jobs, there may one day be interest for a coffee-table book on the insanity of Vancouver condo marketing.

When that day comes, the masterminds at Platinum Project Marketing might be in line for a royalty cheque. Time and time again, my best commentary comes from ripping their campaigns. Their condo marketing “solutions” are the epitome of the hype problem. I really hope they’re in on the joke they’ve created. If they don’t get the joke, it’s because they are the joke.

Anyway, Platinum’s latest gag is on behalf of The Crossing condos in Abbotsford. Here’s their take:

All eyes are on Abbotsford — one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. Live here at The Crossing and you’ll be at the epicentre of a dynamic city packed with outstanding recreational and lifestyle options. And while Abbotsford’s urban style is fuelling a red-hot real estate market, you’ll still find lots of small town charm and quiet country ways. For the attention you deserve, connect with The Crossing…coming this Fall!

In my day I’ve heard Abbotsford called many things, but most of them involve coarse language and are best not repeated here. What (I) can tell you is that there are some things in life (that) just don’t make sense. The combination of “lifestyle options” and “small town charm and quiet country ways” are among them.

Look at the visual elements in this ad for these “contemporary bedroom residences” — whatever that means. (Let us pray that the future of housing doesn’t consider a bedroom as a special feature.)

The side margin gives us three pictures. First is a heterosexual couple, strategically photographed in white dress to be most palatable to the mostly religious population of what a condo marketer might call The Belt. Second is a cushion and tabletop, cropped tight to provide minimal context of the actual living conditions of the condo. Third is a shot of a woman and her notebook computer sprawled on an unspecified lawn. I guess this is Crossing’s idea of a home office.

Unfortunately we can’t know for sure. As always, the condo marketer is keeping a lid on the details. Hop a trip to the website and you’ll get treated to a Flash animation with almost nothing in the way of info. As the tagline says, Crossing is a condo where life and style connect. Too bad it doesn’t intersect with substance.

Commute time like never before

August 10, 2007

Collage | Urban living like never before

Any time a condo marketer pitches a property as unique, consider it a red flag. If you’re looking for a garden of red flags blowing in the wind of the hucksters’ hot air, then Collage in Burnaby is the place for you.

Urban living like never before. That’s the tagline for these “contemporary and stylish urban residences.” That’s some claim. I guess the folks at Polygon would have us believe that these are the first two-bedroom apartment homes in the Lower Mainland.

Polygon would also have us believe in its bizarre form of condo transit math. Commuting estimates always warrant special attention when they come from condo pitchmen as best demonstrated by Bob Rennie and the infamous “one minute from Vancouver” campaign for OMA. For Collage, we’re told that a trip to downtown Vancouver via the Millennium Line is accomplishable in “just ten minutes.”

Well, this might be true if the Millennium Line ran into downtown, but if you’re heading westbound from Brentwood Station, the route actually ends at Commercial Drive. When you get to the transfer station at Broadway, prepare for a heavy sprint to Expo Line platform a half-block away, and then hope you make a perfect connection and don’t have to fight to fit into the overloaded train car.

Any expectation of pulling this off during rush hour will ensure only one thing: You’ll be late for work like never before.

Prado imperfection

August 8, 2007

Prado | The Model of Perfection

Why be a fashion model when you can be a condo model?

Models are all the rage in condo marketing these days. Pulse in Kits launched with Topless Babe in Shades, Grand Central Coquitlam made its mark with Woman in the Golden Gown, and now Prado gives us this gift for gazing eyes.

Looking beyond the socially constructed hottie brought to us courtesy of the Appia Group of Companies, let us consider what a Prado home is supposedly all about:

A home modeled on perfection, finished with exceptional quality, central to all that is important, and destined to impress. Prado. A reflection of you.

The marketing-speak in play here is truly awesome. Prado isn’t just a Richmond condo across the street for Lansdowne Centre, it’s modeled on perfection. In short, it’s an embodiment of excellence sure to invoke envy of the highest order. Obviously there’s no way the developer can live up this “commitment” in any plausible sense. It is so vague as to be meaningless, yet it exists for all to consider.

Why does advertising insist on being so useless? And not to leave consumers off the hook, why do so many consumers accept it without challenge? Personally, I’d love to have buyers take on the marketers to defend their claims. If you happen to find yourself in the sales centre, ask the nearest available agent for their take on Prado’s “destined-to-impress” attributes.

Bonus points for any response containing references to countertops and soaker tubs.

House of Jackson

August 2, 2007

Jackson House at Brentwood Gate

Because nothing says “pedestrian-friendly” like a condo steps from Lougheed Highway, Ledingham McAllister brings us Jackson House at Brentwood Gate.

Here’s the ad’s spin:

Nature and fine living are combined to create the latest work of art in the Brentwood Gate collection. This is Jackson House. A selection of craftsman-inspired four storey residences nestled among a long established traditional residential community.

Nestled? That’s a friendly way of saying it.

According to the developer, Brentwood Gate is inspired by the Group of Seven. I’d say a more true inspiration is the Jackson 5. I’m thinking of Marlon, Jermaine, Tito, Jackie, and Michael all stuffed into a two-bedroom fighting over who gets first dibs on use of the soaker tub.

I imagine there’d be a lot of fighting going on, probably because of the disappointment that comes with dropping so much cash on a home that considers “built-in closet shelving” to be a special feature. Or maybe tensions flared over whose towel gets to hang off the “polished chrome towel bar.”

For more entertainment, go to www.brentwoodgate.com and check out the features list for Jackson House.