Archive for May, 2008

At Stella, it’s “smart” to pay higher prices

May 28, 2008

Stella Vancouver

This ad for Stella at 12th and Kingsway follows Argyle’s lead with the use of what I call “The Uncomfortable Model” motif. In this example, we have a man allegedly named Jason and living in “TH 6” in the Stella development. Though Jason doesn’t seem as uneasy as the Argyle couple — he seems happy with his coffee — there’s something off about his pose. It’s as if he’s sitting on a sharp piece of stale biscotti but being successful at negotiating the pain.

Jason shares two quotes in the ad, the most amusing being his kindergarten-level insight that Stella is a good investment because “a comparable place ten minutes away would cost far more.”

Uh, yeah. Thanks for that, Jason. Glad you could share with me what I missed on the last episode of Sesame Street. Who would’ve thought in real estate, location impacts price!

Jason, if I can give you a lesson: Take a look at the website of the Maverick Real Estate Corporation. That’s the marketing firm that created the Stella ad you’re in. Their website talks a lot about their knack for selling condos. You might take an interest in this:

Stella Vancouver: A unique combination of a 99 suite tower over top of Honda automotive dealership — the first of its kind in Canada. Dramatically higher prices achieved than other comparable buildings.

Ten seconds of research and you find that the marketer is laughing in your face, boasting about the “dramatically higher prices” they’ve secured from buyers just like you.

I’m sorry, Jason. Your investment in Stella wasn’t so smart.

Argyle’s hangover

May 26, 2008


This ad for the Argyle townhomes in Abbotsford is one of the worst condo ads in a long time. Could this couple be any more unconvincing? “Take the damn picture!” is all I get from their tired, hungover faces. She looks like she’s ten seconds from passing out and the angle of his left arm inadvertently hints at a horrific accident. Argyle Andy: He tried to beat the train…and lost.

Let this be a lesson for you kids out there: Don’t get drunk and play near the tracks or you might find yourself in a condo ad.

What a wreck.

Live the receivership lifestyle

May 21, 2008

Garden City Living

Anyone who orders a hot chocolate at Tim Hortons knows about the muck at the bottom of the cup. For the unfamiliar, this is the gritty syrup stuff that tends to make up the last 5% of the drink. It’s disgusting and represents the worst of what Timmy’s has to offer.

The condo marketing equivalent of the Ho-Ho sludge is the receivership sale.

No surprise that this ad for some Garden City condo in Richmond leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The ad implies the project going into receivership is somehow a good thing. Am I alone in thinking a one-bedroom starting at $299,900 is not much of a “fire sale” deal? And what’s with the missing apostrophe on the website copy? Does going into receivership mean there’s no money to include the apostrophe in “Richmonds [sic] best value!”?

The only thing that could make this ad worse is if it featured a model holding a coffee mug. Not that condo marketers are still into that cliche. That’s so 2006. Oh wait. Failed that test too.

The cup o’ cocoa muck is looking pretty good right now.

The global confession

May 19, 2008

International Herald Tribune

With the Vancouver media so consumed with local real estate coverage, you’d think it was in the news everywhere in the world. Scan the headlines outside of B.C. and the answer is clear: The world isn’t talking about Vancouver.

That said, every once in a while the international media does opt to join in on the fun. The International Herald Tribune took their turn last week. In a manner typical of foreign coverage, the article starts with a few fast facts about Vancouver’s rising prices before turning the whole thing over to the superstar realtors for commentary. Interviewed are Bob Rennie and Malcolm Hasman. (Perhaps Zoost hoped to chip in but had a “problem” with his phone?)

For their part, King Bob and Malcolm the Mogul share stories of spectacular success: Sales are ahead of projections, wealthy immigrants are eager to buy, it’s busiest market in 25 years, etc. But buried within the kibbles and bites is one revolutionary, absolutely astonishing quote. From the mouth of Mega Malcolm:

A lot of prices have been reduced to some degree… But the truth is, they were overly inflated to start with.

Coming from a top realtor, this is a revelation of epic proportions. It’s not everyday we hear something like this. In fact, up until this Spring with listings achieving record highs, it would be heretical for an industry official to speak with such negativity.

Ladies and gentlemen, the day of reckoning is coming. You have been warned.

The chickens are coming home to Zoost

May 13, 2008


For all my complaints about the Sun, I love that they have a place for David Baines. Baines is a relentless pitbull of a reporter. If you’re in business and have a troubled past, watch out: Baines is out for blood.

In his column in the weekend edition, Baines takes the meat grinder to Robert Zoost, an Okanagan realtor with a superstar media image for his “ability” to sell multi-million dollar luxury properties to his “A-list” celebrity clients. Not wanting to trust the hype, Baines does his own research. Turns out Kelowna’s boy wonder is also a real estate enfant terrible. As Baines details in his hugely entertaining expose:

Real estate regulators have found [Zoost] guilty of professional misconduct on at least two occasions. Creditors have been hounding him to pay long-overdue debts. He is facing assault charges in connection with two separate incidents. And since he moved to Kelowna nine months ago, he has completed the sale of only one property over $1 million, raising the question as to whether he can reasonably be called “the million-dollar man.”

What you just read was Baines being nice. His article proceeds to tear Zoost a second anus with allegations of balances owing to the Nanaimo Stop & Shop (a preferred destination of high rollers, no doubt) and an ex-lover who accuses her former beau of skipping out on cellphone bills.

Baines also chastises for the Z-Man for his shameless self-promotion, citing an unidentified media report about Zoost zipping around town in a pimped out Mercedes. Never mind the car was his girlfriend’s. Ouch.

But for all this comedy, the thing that does it for me is Zoost’s penchant for his own publicity. Just go to his website. From the “Z” crest emblem to the Flash animation commemorating his hubris, it’s absolutely, sensationally hilarious.

Forget Bob Rennie. Gimme Bob Zoost.

Pulse, now with shirt

May 8, 2008

Pulse in Kitsilano

The Topless Babe in Shades is back only this time she has a shirt and free time to stroll the seawall. Who knows what she’s thinking about but something tells me she’s intellectual. After that whole watermelon thing, it’s hard to believe she isn’t packing some brainpower. Face it, no one acts out a gourd fetish on a whim — it’s the kind of thing you do only after you’ve thought long and hard about what you really want.

Not that I’m into her or anything. What’s compelling about a single, financially secure twenty-something in Kitsilano? Sure, she owns her own place, has a healthy sexuality and enjoys long walks on the beach.

No, I don’t want to ask her out. Not at all. No.

Leave me alone.

Urbane at Seymour and Nelson

May 7, 2008

999 Seymour

In 1988, there was this low-budget movie called The Invisible Kid about a teenage scientist who discovers invisibility and uses the power to spy on girls’ locker room. Being the eighties, the film was marketed as a comedy. Back in the day, the trivialization of sexual misconduct was fodder for big laughs. Ho hum.

Anyway, it’s a no-good movie but I like the idea of having invisibility powers. With invisibility powers, I could be a fly on the wall at all of the condo brand consultancies. Imagine being on the inside of the marketing deliberations for a project like 999 Seymour, a pre-sale condo destined for erection in downtown Vancouver.

The 999 Seymour campaign goes against the grain of most local condo promotion. Rather than sell the benefits of the neighbourhood to the condo, the ad pumps the benefits of the condo to the neighbourhood. The overhead shot of Seymour and Nelson as it exists today coupled with the tagline the corner is “about to change for good” speaks to the promise the condo hopes to bring. As the copy describes, it’s the promise of “urbane downtown living from the $390s.”

How did this brand come about? Why isn’t it awful? How come they forgot the photo of a coffee? Where are the sexy urban professionals? Or should I say sexy “urbane” professionals? Oh, I’m so very confused. This ad should be worse than it is, but it isn’t. Am I going soft in my criticism or is the softening market having a quality effect on the hype?

As the correction draws nearer, my days of blogging may be numbered.

Under the Penticton-Napa-Tuscan sun

May 5, 2008

Kettle Ridge

Geography is not everybody’s idea of a good time but it can be fun, especially when you make a game of finding all places shaped like male genitalia. (Here’s lookin’ at you, Nova Scotia!) Condo marketers like geography too, especially when it involves making it up.

Most geographic references in condo marketing are associative — a young neighbourhood is positioned in relation to an established city. Think New York comes to Yaletown, or Yaletown comes to Surrey. In all cases, the “better” city is brought down to promote the emerging one. (For those dreaming of Surrey-style lofts in Point Grey, keep dreaming.)

On the most extreme end, like the marketing for the Kettle Ridge homesite estates in Penticton, the fledgling region assumes other popular identities altogether:

A truly special place awaits. It is calm here — the warm sun and the clear quiet air soak deep into every facet of life. Kettle Ridge is a rare collection of generous homesites in timeless Naramata. Just a few minutes from Penticton. It is an untouched haven of tranquil wine country, crystal waters and old-world warmth. It’s Tuscany. It’s Napa. It’s just the beginning.

That’s straight from the marketer’s copy; Kettle Ridge isn’t just like Tuscany or like Napa, it is Tuscany and it is Napa. To hell that one’s in Italy and one’s in California — the magic of marketing brings them together, transcending the boundaries of distance and time and returning them to the home they never knew. For Tuscany and Napa, the cradle of civilization is Penticton, British Columbia, Canada.

Condo geography rocks!