Surviving a Twitterstorm

Jeremy Dodd


What an odd start to 2015; the development industry has already had to deal with a Twitterstorm. The excellent Redrow was the victim, after releasing what I thought was actually a rather good video to promote one of their new central London developments. Forget your prejudicies and movie link-ins, the tone was ‘aspirational’ and no doubt aimed to attract successful city executives as purchasers. Properly briefed and pretty sensible I’d have thought, given that it’s bonus time, though in retrospect perhaps the creative treatment wasn’t quite right, but we often see that in advertising.

Trouble is the Twittersphere, with its spiralling imagination, started claiming an American Psycho connection and pretty soon the wheels had come off with negative articles in the Guardian among others. Surprisingly Redrow pulled the video claiming they had got it wrong, but in actual fact had they got it wrong at all? The style of the video was probably bang on for their target market and if you are selling a high rise building you ARE going to want to make a bit of thing about rising above the city, aren’t you?

I’m surprised that a Redrow spokesperson didn’t stand up and defend their marketing approach. Arguably after this problem Redrow may perceive that prospects will consider that the company is somehow implying that they are psychotic, but I doubt it. There’s a section of our industry that objects on principle to ‘aspirational’ property marketing yet I would be fairly certain that no member of the target audience would have objected to the film. Redrow boss, Steve Morgan is known for not beating about the bush when something needs to be said, so why not this time, guys?

Interestingly if the same style had been used to sell cars or perfume it would have been fine. Rolls-Royce and Bentley aren’t expected to tailor their marketing to the mass market; but somehow targeting an exclusive purchaser group is not acceptable when it’s a property development – a strong case of double standards, don’t you think?