Archive for December, 2007

The failure of success

December 31, 2007

Success Tower at Pinnacle Centre

In Vancouver, snow is on the street and a stench is in the air. Finding the source of a stink wouldn’t be a concern for most, but I’m an odd guy so it was a preoccupation of mine during the holidays. And wouldn’t you know it, I tracked the foulness down to a condo ad. An ad for Success Tower at Pinnacle Centre.

Success Tower — the wealthy uncle of Mississauga’s Mediocrity Mews — is a condo in Toronto marketed to us saps here in Vancouver. It’s a strange appeal that reflects the insanity of real estate on the west coast. Priced out of English Bay? It’s time to look at Bay Street!


It gets worse. The marketer, Anson Realty, can’t resist the urge to hype its tower with all the gusto reminiscent of the glory days of Platinum Project Marketing. Consider these howlers of condo crap copy:

You’ve worked hard to achieve what you desire in life, and now you are within reach of the ultimate symbol of success. Success Tower at Pinnacle Centre.

At Pinnacle Centre, Success is an address. It is where you belong.

Wow, that reeks and that’s just off the website. Who knows what you’ll find in the sales centre. But let me tell ya, if success is an address, what does this say about those who bought into Woodward’s?

Here’s hoping 2008 brings us better ads, better homes, and most importantly, better affordability. Happy new year everybody.

Suzanne researched this

December 17, 2007

Today’s consumer-oriented Christmas is a supreme achievement of the marketing machine, second only to Valentine’s Day in its exploitation of tradition as a means of separating the masses from their money. (I say second because as much as Christmas is commercialized, at least it retains some relevance to religious communities. V-Day, on the other hand, has no purpose but to subsidize flower shops and card makers.)

Christmas, the marketers remind us, is about the season of giving. Well, lately the condo marketers haven’t been giving us much to scoff at, probably because they realize the hordes are too busy looking for a new Wii than to contemplate dropping $500,000 on a condo smaller than a mid-size car. Not many ads to make fun of right now, though I am eager for what’s in store for the new year.

In the spirit of giving, I’m using today’s post to feature a television ad by Century 21. Some of you may have seen it before. The ad depicts a married couple in an argument about buying a new home. One partner is hesitant while the other wants to go ahead. “We can do this,” says the wife, after realtor Suzanne on speakerphone says the same. At the end, the husband agrees. The couple embraces and Suzanne “goes to work” to close the deal.

The ad is brilliant because of its acknowledgment of the very real anxiety that comes with taking on the ownership of a home. There’s no “own-the lifestyle-five-minutes-from-your-favourite-doggie-daycare” hype here. Instead, this ad gives us a devastating look into domestic ennui with a well acted scene of kitchen bickering. I am especially impressed by the use of sound. Think of the clanking dishes and how the sound perfectly conveys the disappointments of married life. There is a level of complexity and honesty to this ad that is unheard of in Vancouver condo marketing.

In praising this ad, understand that I am not endorsing its message. I am only writing about its merit as a piece of advertising. In light of what is happening in the U.S. where foreclosures are taking the economy into recession, Suzanne’s message that the couple “can do this” is ironic, tragic and deeply disturbing.

To the condo marketers, I ask you to consider this ad and think of what you can do better in trying to market your condos. Whatever you can give us in terms of better ads would be appreciated. It would mean a lot. In the spirit of Christmas, please give.

The edge of reason

December 10, 2007

Edgemont at Westwood Village

The condo ads have been bland lately. While there’s no shortage of bad ads, there is less and less of the “so-bad-it’s-good” variety.

The ad for Edgemont at Westwood Village is an exception. A modern classic of condo hype, it is written to appeal to the broadest possible audience by cheerfully embracing dualities without the slightest bit of shame. It’s yoga meets urban meets nature meets golf. (Surprisingly, no mention of a latte or related beverage.)

You don’t need to think about this ad for more than a second to come to the conclusion that it makes absolutely no sense. Nobody’s doing yoga in a forest across the street from the new H&M. But advertising isn’t about thinking or logic or meaning, it’s about doing. In this case, it’s about running out and spending 400 large on a condo in Coquitlam. By the mall, yet, by nature. And golf.

Another way of putting it:

1.) At breakfast, shop Lululemon;
2.) At lunch, hunt and skin a deer;
3.) At dinner, bring out the putter for par.

Advertising is about the arbitrary linking of ideas. For lifestyle marketing especially, the theory tells you the unity of the random is the way to go. Why be one thing to one audience when you can be all things to all people? Make no sense and anything is possible.

Yoga, urban, nature, golf?


Blaine drain

December 4, 2007

Seascape at Blaine Harbor

Willing to cross a border to get to your condo? The condo marketing machine thinks so. So much so that the hucksters behind Seascape at Blaine Harbor paid big bucks to advertise in last weekend’s Vancouver Sun.

Not to rain on the parade, but I surmise that considerably smaller bucks were spent on the ad and web design which, on the quality spectrum, falls somewhere between awful and ass.

For all you folks with $379,500 burning a hole in your pocket, can I ask, are you swayed by this kind of advertising? I wonder how anyone can have confidence in a development when the media materials are so bad. Just try loading the Seascape website. You could get through customs faster than it takes for the main page to come up.

Sweat out the page load and take a read of the “superior top-quality” features that come standard with these condos. My personal favourite is the “complete cleaning prior to occupancy.” Good to know that after dropping close to 400K, I won’t have to bring my shop vac.