Suzanne researched this

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.

8 Responses to “Suzanne researched this”

  1. drugs Says:

    Stumbled upon your blog a week ago and decided to come back. Not for the articles you write, but for how you write them, really amazing stuff you’re doing here, i like how you put information into the articles which makes it much more easier to read and much more interesting of course. Keep up the good work!

  2. aetakeo Says:

    Wow. Who bickers with a realtor on speakerphone? Yikes.

  3. S2 Says:

    I love how they made it so the husband did not/could not come up with any convincing reasons why they shouldn’t do it.

    When they are being foreclosed on I hope he can come up with some choice words then.


  4. swirlyman Says:

    Check out the blog entry on the well-named development “The Mark” in Scottsdale, AZ from
    I practically split a gut laughing. Go to the marketing website:
    and click on “Amenities”.
    One of the listed amenities is the “Hotel Valley Ho”. A footnote says “Some services made available by the Hotel Valley Ho may include additional costs.”

  5. solipsist Says:

    One of the listed amenities is the “Hotel Valley Ho”. A footnote says “Some services made available by the Hotel Valley Ho may include additional costs.”

    That is hilarious swirly! I like how the masseur is copping a feel on the right breast. I wonder how much extra that is.

    Ah, tis the season. Ho, Ho, Ho!

  6. meh Says:

    Nice call S2. Yet another dull spin on the prime time stereotype of a pudgy, indecisive, no cohesive opinion, unattractive, hectored white middle-aged male yielding to the superiority of the better half. More entertaining will be to revisit the kitchen table two years hence after the market value of the property ‘Suzanne’ assured them ‘they could (stretch to) do’ drops a hundred or two thou. ‘Suzanne’ won’t be on the phone after the commission cheque clears though.

  7. Provecho Says:

    Yikes. The wife’s performance is utterly chilling.

    The way she snips: “What? …WHAT?!” combined with the I-can’t-believe-I-married-such-a-pathetic-doofus shoulder shrug makes my blood run cold. If this is how she treats the poor sap BEFORE the pressures of owning a too-expensive home, I can only imagine what he’s in for when the bills start stacking up.

    I think our fictitious couple needs a marriage counsellor more than a real estate agent.

  8. Joseph Says:

    Ok, I have to fess up here. I am one of those real estate agents that reads your blog because I find it refreshing.

    But, geesh, this ad makes me sick to my stomach. When I’ve had clients in this state of mind – rare but I have seen it – I back off completely. I’ll give them any objective information I can find, and dig up anything else they may request.

    But I’ve told clients before that I cannot make the final decision for them and that I am not there to “convince” them of anything when it comes to their critical decision points. I will convey whatever message they want on that decision, but I hope someone slaps me if I ever prod “you can do this” in a situation like displayed in this ad.

    If you’re the buyer’s agent, your job is to give the buyers the information they need to help them make the decisions – not to hover on the phone (or in the room) and watch them hash out their relationship. If anything, when you see warning signs like the level of stress in this ad, that’s when an agent needs to emphasize that one of their basic options is NOT to go forward.

    I know I am not the only agent that feels that way. We are out here, the agents that care a great deal at assisting their clients make good decision, even if that decision is not to buy, or not to sell.

    I’ll get out of this business if I ever feel I’m crossing the line and have become more worried about my paycheck than my client’s interest. My clients hire me to be professional, not a cheerleader.

    I agree with Provecho . . . this ad couple needs a counsellor more than they need an agent.

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