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.