Why I write condohype


Responding to my previous post, reader Paul argues that this blog has a role in making a positive contribution to the craft of condo marketing. In his view, our critiques of advertising should be free of biases such as “hating the market, feeling priced out, hating Yaletown, density, etc.” While I do not agree with Paul’s advice, his challenge brings up a larger question: What’s the point of condohype?

In simple terms, condohype is a satirical commentary. Through the blog, I attempt to deploy irony, sarcasm and wit — basically all the goodies in the humourist’s toolbox — to lampoon the hell out of Vancouver condo marketing. I’ve chosen this target because it’s so perfectly emblematic of what’s wrong with Vancouver. Think about it, what better symbol than the Vancouver condo ad with its celebration of arrogance, narcissism and indifference?

These ideas manifest themselves not only in the content of the ads but also in their construction — by way of typos, errors and an aversion to good design. I attack these “mistakes” not because I take pleasure in nitpicking, but to call attention to the gargantuan bluff that defines the industry. When the market tanks and all is revealed, my commentary comes to an end.

To return to Paul’s point about making a good contribution, I believe condohype is and always has been a positive blog. Condohype takes the real and widespread angst about the crisis of affordable housing and channels it into comedic expression. This makes the writing fun to read for the broadest possible audience — which also means getting the word out to the broadest possible audience. From the single college grad feeling priced-out to the developer looking to learn the trash talk about their condo, this blog has a little something for everyone.

As for what “good” real estate marketing looks like, well, some firms do it better than others. On the basis of its colour scheme and defined target audience, Onni’s ad for V6A deserves some respect. The copy is a weak point though, especially the last three sentences. “Stake your claim in Vancouver’s most up-and-coming urban environment. The time is right to make your move. Don’t wait until it’s too late.”

I mean, really, who needs this crap? That’s five seconds of my life I’m never getting back.

11 Responses to “Why I write condohype”

  1. GhostRider Says:


  2. jeffjeffjeff Says:

    “Arrogance, Narcissism and Indifference” should be our city motto. Can anyone translate that into Latin?

  3. jesse Says:

    Keep up the good work. As far as I’m concerned you’re doing a public service for anyone swept up in emotion when making a life-changing commitment like taking out a $300K mortgage at least to think about the psychological tricks used to sell.

    Sorry, if you don’t “get” the satire there are millions of other places to spend your time. Besides, if the marketing is truly about value it should sell itself despite this blog’s best efforts.

  4. Bubble Lad Says:

    “There is life outside of Yaletown” – sounds like the teaser to a science fiction movie.

  5. Alexas Says:

    Personally I’ve found the most of RE ads discussed here being pure examples of kitsch by all means. Interested in kitsch in general and its tremendous impact on average people by influencing and shaping their life through different segments I’d consider this blog healthy, critical in a good way, smart, ironic, satiric and entertaining as well as opposition to Vancouver’s global RE opinion. It is also a unique and valuable record of the time when some of us were so arrogant, greedy and “profit hungry” that they haven’t hesitated to use kitsch in its worst form to gain on people feelings and weaknesses.


    kitch (Webster)

    1 : something that appeals to popular or lowbrow taste and is often of poor quality
    2 : a tacky or lowbrow quality or condition

    Some Interesting quotations from wikipedia:

    ”They play on basic human impulses irrespective of religious beliefs, political convictions, race, or nationality. They exploit universal subjects such as birth, family, love, nostalgia, and so forth, which could, perhaps, be further analyzed in terms of Jungian archetypes” (Thomas Kulka, “Kitsch and Art”, p. 27, on the motifs of kitsch).

    “Kitsch is mechanical and operates by formulas. Kitsch is vicarious experience and faked sensations. Kitsch changes according to style, but remains always the same. Kitsch is the epitome of all that is spurious in the life of our times.”—Clement Greenberg, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” 1939.

    “[K]itsch is the absolute denial of shit, in both the literal and figurative senses of the word; kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.”—Milan Kundera, 1984

    “Kitsch is the expression of passion at all levels, and not the servant of truth. It keeps relative to religion and truth…Truth, kitsch leaves for (modern) art. In kitsch skill is the important criteria…Kitsch serves life and seeks the individual.” Odd Nerdrum, “Kitsch—The Difficult Choice,” 1998.

    “I think that what’s truly vulgar is kitsch, that means the lack of technical awareness.”—Daniele Luttazzi, 1 February 2001 interview at L’Espresso.

  6. aetakeo Says:

    @jeffjeffjeff — the online translator says “Superbia Celsus quod Indifferens”.
    Whether things are in the right declension I have no clue.

  7. bill Says:

    I think that is great that someone can make a satire out of Real Estate Ads. Sometimes i see the ads on TV and they can really go to the lengths of creating a fantasy world out of the locations for some of the condos. No offense to the advertisement people of course, we all understand it is all about selling the ideas and properties for their clients. But sometimes, it really can be ridiculous in their pitch.
    And unless you explicitly equate living in a certain place with derogatory terms, there is nothing wrong with being biased about some places. After all, it is about personal choice that you do not living in a certain place.

  8. Ruutu Says:

    I can’t understand why the developer would choose the postal code as the name of the building when that code’s previous claim to fame was “Canada’s Poorest.”

    V6A: smack dab in the middle of the Downtown Eastside.

  9. Handy Andy Says:

    I was carpooling to work the first time I saw this ad and couldn’t help but snicker. I sincerely hope that the ad doesn’t hit the demographic target, because if it does it painfully demonstrates how emotionally and sensically vapid that-part-of-town people are.

    That, or all real estate ads are ridiculous.

    I suspect the latter.

  10. The Sentinel Says:

    You are a brilliant writer. In fact, you’re one of the best that I’ve come across and your running commentary on real estate marketing has made me LOL on more than a few occasions. Until the crash comes……..

  11. Coolin Says:

    What’s the deal with V6A now anyways? I ride my bike past the site every morning and it appears that construction has come to a halt. Just a hole in the ground and no workers anymore…for the past week at least.

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