Does Sexy Real Estate Advertising Work?

We’ve covered this topic before, but with the stakes higher than they’ve ever been in the Toronto real estate market, do you think that sellers should be doing more?

Or do you think that trying something “different” risks offending the masses?

In any industry, marketing techniques need to evolve, or everybody else plays catch-up.

How long until we see advertising in the Toronto real estate world catch up to what other cities around the world see every day?


Remember all the buzz created by PSR Real Estate’s Karen Filiatrault when she did a “lifestyle video” for her listing at 318 King Street East last month?

Well, that property sold for over list, in mere days.  So those demanding the real estate “boycott” should go back to the drawing board.

Karen recently published a “Part II” to that video, which I think puts a lot of the haters in their place.

Take a look:

I watched this video like three or four times to try and figure out what the take-away was.

think I have it now though.

The guy who showed up at the door is riding the “friend train,” as so many guys have can attest to having done.

He’s looking to spend time with the woman who has his heart, but she’s looking for him to clean up around the place while she goes out on a date with a different guy.

Quite the different story from the first video that caused such controversy.  And I think that’s the point.  So many people found the first video to be sexist, and this second video shows us another side of the story – that the woman was, in fact, the one with all the power.  And the “morning after” shows that she has those guys wrapped around her finger.

In any event, I didn’t find the first video to be that controversial or racy (many disagreed, but we covered this in a blog post last month), and if we looked at what some real estate agents around the world have done in the past, then judging on a curve, videos like “King(Dom) In The Sky” is harmless.

There are two real estate agents in Australia named Ian Adams and Adrian Jenkins, who run Neo Property, and their ads are probably the most racy I’ve ever seen.

They’re also the most original, and they rack up the most page views, and the most shares.

So let me ask the obvious question: isn’t that the point?

I watched “King(Dom) In The Sky Part II: The Morning After” three or four times because I wanted to figure out the story.  So the video worked!

And these videos by Neo Property, although racy, get people watching, talking, and most importantly in today’s day of social media: sharing.

These videos date back to 2011, so they’re not new, and it’s not a novel concept.  In fact, the agents that produced them have probably moved on to something newer, better, more creative, and perhaps even more attention-grabbing.

But I want to look back at these videos, and ask what you think.

If you were a seller, and you were told that this was the best way to showcase your home, what would you say?

Would you trust the agent’s judgement and track record?

Would you do anything to sell your home?

Let’s have a look…

One of the more memorable videos that Neo Property has done is this one:

I think it goes without saying, that many people would be offended by this.

But as I’ve said before, people are offended by just about everything out there today.

One might ask, “Do you really need a beautiful woman, tied to a chair, to sell real estate?”

I don’t think it’s a matter of “need,” but rather it doesn’t hurt.

Sure, there might be a few people out there that think the video is trashy, and don’t consider the house because of it.  But something tells me the extremely wealthy demographic would see more appeal in this video.  I think many successful people took a risk or two to get where they are, and this video is more likely to resonate with them.

As for this video, it’s cheeky (no pun intended), but somewhat harmless:

This next video is similar to the first one in terms of its agenda: get sexy people to sell the home.

The guy’s bare bum?  Maybe that’s PG-13.

But this next one is

Ten seconds into the video, this woman is pulling at her underwear, beneath her all-too-short, unrealistic golf shorts.

Then we have the obligatory cleavage shot, and then a shot of her shaking her behind.

Soon enters the shirtless pool-boy, “Cleeve,” who they muse “comes with the house.”

And clearly the agents know that their videos don’t go over well with everybody, as Ian Adams says, “Come on, at least she’s got her clothes on, and she’s not roped to a chair,” which is a reference to the first video I showed – and the video that seemed to cause the biggest uproar for these guys.

Whether the above videos work or not, I have no clue what they were thinking with this video:

I didn’t get it.

A midget hiding in the fridge?

Pimps and hoes?

I found this to be incredibly trashy, and while I can look at a well-chiseled male physique and be jealous, or look at a gorgeous woman and appreciate her beauty, I don’t see anything in this video that I admire in the slightest.  A midget in the fridge reminds me of Jackass, and I never understood why people found that show funny.

While Neo Property seems to be the first and most infamous real estate team to feature “lifestyle videos” to sell real estate, there is another company called Shaw Property Group that has followed suit.

They have a very different style.  There’s still a gorgeous woman being featured throughout the home, but it’s far more tastefully done, and with classical music:

And last but not least, here’s one more example of a lifestyle video, somewhat sexy, although nothing compared to the first set of videos.

This one also hails from Australia (what’s the theme here?), except it tells a completely different story:

Actually, having watched that three times now, I feel bad for the woman!

She seems so lonely!

That’s a big house for one person.

Although maybe that’s the point of the video – to get us thinking?

Maybe this is the point of every video – to get us analyzing the story, the character, and the situation, trying to figure out what’s what, and who is who.

Is this woman a successful, powerful, independent woman?  Is she the CEO of a Fortune 500 company who came home after a long day’s work, opened a bottle of wine, and went for a swim in her private pool?

It keeps you thinking, doesn’t it?

So what’s the verdict?

If you owned a piece of luxury real estate, in Toronto or in Queensland, would you want your agent “thinking outside the box” and trying something creative?  Or do you think these videos miss the point?


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  1. Ralph Cramdown says:

    Here is a great analysis of an ad, by an analyst. A lot of the points he makes about it could also be applied to the infamous Toronto condo ad, which might work better if it had any sort of a story arc instead of being a series of vignettes. But hey, the condo sold, right?

  2. Kyle says:

    Forget about Home Capital Group, David WHY AREN’T YOU WRITING ABOUT THIS?????

    It’s freaking huge! This is THE SIGNAL. Clearly this could mean judgement day is coming and all those smug homeowners non-believers will finally get what’s coming to them. I know it is very early days and any predictions you make on this signal may or may not be pure and utter speculation, and i may or may not attack you for being an Agent Atheist, if you say that this isn’t a clear devine signal of end of days, but dammit you should be writing about this not sexy ads!

  3. Condodweller says:

    First of all, I would appreciate it very much if my agent spent this amount of money and attention on advertising my home. They are actually providing value for my money. I would be curious though how much time it takes to produce these videos especially the one with the tied up girl. That seems like an ad for a big budget movie.

    The first video I find is a cop out where she followed up one that stereotyped one gender with another one which stereotypes the other gender seemingly to appease those who cried foul after the first video. If you produce a racy video like that you should be proud of it and stand behind your own work without making excuses.

    I like all the Australian videos. While they are a bit risky by North American standards I don’t find anything wrong with them. They are tastefully done even the one with the naked man. Even though it features a naked man I find it funny and not sexual at all. It tied in with the story line and highlighted a feature of the house.

    The Shaw Property Group video I found focused on the woman vs the house. It felt like a Victoria’s secret commercial.

    I liked the last one the most as a real estate advertising tool as I found myself looking at the house more than the woman leading me through it. I really like the architecture of the house and I actually found the woman distracting.

  4. Joel says:

    None of these are great at displaying the house, but I could see how they may reach rich international buyers. I would assume that is who these adds are targeting, especially as so much Chinese money moves to Australia in home purchases.

    For effective video adds I really liked the one that was used to sell Gord Downie’s home a yer or two ago. It showed a great home in context to the end users.

  5. GinaTO says:

    Honestly? Bullcrap. To me it’s the same thing as pre-con condos advertising a “lifestyle”, when what they really sell is concrete, drywall, hardwood floor and new appliances. I’m the one who decides my lifestyle, I don’t need some marketer to figure it out for me. I find lifestyle real estate ads mostly dumb, always useless. Even the family-oriented ones – if I buy this house, my family won’t live life the same way as these people, so what do I care? Give me a solid house, staged nicely to showcase its features, give me lots of info about the property, and I’ll make my own decisions. This is just a gimmick.

  6. Kyle says:

    I think these videos are gimmicky (not unlike the $1 listings or the auctioning of 2290 Saxony Ct in Mississauga) but for homes with a very small buyer pool it may increase exposure enough to get it in front of the right buyer. For most normal homes and condos, where there is active demand i think the lifestyle videos hurt as much as they help. Personally i would just prefer a video that shows my property in the best light, without the story or implying some kind of lifestyle.

  7. Marina says:

    I find these ads distracting at best. I want to see the house, not someone’s behind.

    But I bet there are many people who have chosen not to have children who are tired of the endless family marketing too.

    Agents will do whatever works. If this gets publicity then it will get more popular with agents. Marketing 101.

  8. Pete says:

    I guess if we’re all about pandering to the lowest common denominator then these work. Because that’s where we are now as a society. If you get the most clicks, you’re a success. Doesn’t matter what you actually do or bring to the world.

  9. Chris says:

    This is a bit disappointing, David. Today’s post was an opportunity to have a good discussion about Home Capital Group, Equitable Group, and the like. I would have been very interested to hear your opinion on the matter, particuarly as some investors are warning about the risk of contagion, decreased overall liquidity, etc.

    I suppose I’ll cross my fingers and hope for some substance come Wednesday’s post.

    1. A. says:

      Chris, how much do you pay for your subscription to this site? Oh wait it’s free.

      Do you ever call the Toronto star and tell them you don’t like their layout in the Wheels section on Saturday?

      Also can you pass along the URL to your blog so we can go judge the shit out of it? Thx!

      1. Daniel says:

        I was just about to say this…….but you said it a lot better!

      2. Chris says:

        Ah, so because this blog is free, is it immune to criticism? Perhaps if I were to donate a dollar to the website, I would then be allowed to critique it? Or maybe I should launch my own blog and accept your criticism on that project, before I’m permitted to voice my opinion here? Please, enlighten me, A.

        The reality is that Home Capital’s implosion is a significant story, and I would be interested to hear David’s opinion on it’s causes and repercussions. If anything, that is an endorsement of this blog and the author’s perspective.

        As Ralph pointed out below, this post feels like a bit of a distraction from a more pressing matter.

        1. Geoff says:

          You know it’s called a puff piece and presented as such. David isn’t a full-time blogger, he’s a full-time realtor. So you get what you get, and you don’t get upset. Criticism of a piece or opinion is of course welcome here but I think your main point is that you don’t like the topic.

          1. Chris says:

            I realize David has a day job, and that we get what we get, but that doesn’t preclude me from commenting on the choice of topic.

            I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m upset. I didn’t cry into my corn flakes this morning because of this topic choice. I will say I’m a tad disappointed to not have David’s opinion on what I would consider an interesting story.

            I also understand that there will be puff pieces. However, with Home Capital turning into a dumpster fire mid last week, I thought we had hit our puff piece quota with the funny pictures on Friday. Like I said, I’m holding out hope that we don’t make the puff piece streak three on Wednesday.

          2. Kayie says:

            You call it a puff piece. I call it my favourite feature. Sorry but I’m not an investment banker, financial analyst, or anybody who you might deem important.I’m just an average gal who likes looking at real estate, watching videos, browsing listings, etc.

            If David writes about home capital I won’t read it. Because I so t understand, but mainly because I don’t care. I think He does a great job of writing to his overall readership, and the so-called puff pieces are just as sought after with half of his readers as the nutts and bolts financial analysis blogs.

          3. Chris says:

            And you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, Kayie. My point above was just that; my opinion. You can agree or disagree, as you see fit. If you like the puff pieces, you don’t owe anyone an apology for that. Typically, I don’t mind them, but given that we had one on Friday (and in light of the evolving situation around Home Capital), I would have enjoyed a bit of a more serious topic today.

            I’m also not looking for an in-depth analysis of Home Capital’s financial statements, corporate governance, etc., but rather a commentary on what the impact of this mortgage lender going belly up could be. this blog hasn’t shied away from some of these topics previously (Tarion, foreign buyer’s tax, rent control, etc.).

          4. Jon says:

            David’s apparent laziness and/or refusal to consult with Chris on all future blog topics is now a hotter topic than sexy real estate advertising. Go figure!

          5. Chris says:

            Haha well if you look back at the most commented on topics, they tend to be the heavier ones, as opposed to the puff pieces. Partially because of Kyle and I just bickering back and forth with one another.

    2. Gypsy says:

      This author does not have the qualification to play an expert on matters of real estate or real estate finance on MSM, if he can’t quickly form his opinion on a matter of such magnitude.

      He should go and ask for a refund at UWO for his 4 years there.

      1. Chris says:

        That’s unnecessarily harsh, and quite honestly, a bit rude. In all the posts I’ve read from David, he seems to be a pretty smart and reasonable guy.

        I suspect he does have an opinion on the issue of Home Capital; he just hasn’t shared it (yet).

        1. jeff316 says:

          Given the Home Capital stuff started up late last week, I suspect he just hasn’t written out his opinion yet – whereas this topic was probably half (if not fully) written a while back, and in the reserve tank for days when David’s just too busy to do something indepth.

  10. Ralph Cramdown says:

    Big difference between racking up page views and reaching qualified potential buyers and their influencers.

    Also a big difference between using an ad to promote the client’s product (his real estate for sale) and using it to promote the agent’s product (her services).

    Is this a “look over there… a squirrel!” post to distract us from Home Capital? It’s getting pretty close to the hour where out-of-the-loop depositors who only got the news on the weekend can start withdrawing their funds, and still no announcement of a finished-in-the-wee-hours-Monday deal to sell the assets to stronger hands…

    1. Condodweller says:

      I think you are right on the money. Given it’s tax deadline today I doubt many people read blogs today. I’m sure David will be back with more serious subjects on Wednesday. It’s not a bad distraction as far as distractions go and yet it manages to stay on topic.