Saturday, February 16, 2013

Did a former Global-TV reporter set the stage for the entire MAC deception? - Updated



Meet Melanie Briggs. 

Ms Briggs is a Sales Director at MAC Marketing Solutions and has been with the firm since 2004.  

Here's her LinkedIn profile:


Prior to working at MAC, she worked in Television as a reporter on the show "Inside Entertainment", was co-host of "M-Style" and co-host of "The Ultimate Playoff Show".

 Her bio on the Ultimate Hockey Show says:
Melanie Briggs is best known by her legions of male fans as co-host of M-Style on Men TV. Mel was also seen nationally as a reporter for Global's Inside Entertainment and Movie Central's Inside Movies.
Now having someone with media experience on your staff can be an invaluable resource and as a former reporter with Global-TV, she is well positioned to use her connections to advance MAC's agenda.

Briggs' polished TV media talents are on display for all to see in this youtube clip showing her as the host for MAC's Golden Cube annual awards gala, an annual company shindig to reward top performers. Assuming MAC doesn't delete this too, here is that promotion clip:



As you know by now, the infamous MAC Marketing Solutions media deception was engineered around the Chinese New Year celebrations.

In acknowledging his company's misdeeds, MAC President Cameron McNeill is quoted as saying:
"All I can say is that I deeply apologize for having misled the media for being there. We were busy and I don't know if the girls were put up to it, or just put on the spot, or if it happened spontaneously."
That's going to be a very important question. Were "the girls" put up to it? And if so, by who?

When queried by the Vancouver Province Newspaper as to whether the two employees were asked to play roles by bosses, he said,
“I did not... it didn’t come from the top. I don’t believe it happened on an order."
Hmmm... we'll revisit that one another day.

Back to Ms. Briggs.

It may interest you to know that Melanie Briggs was involved in this January 25th, 2012 CBC news story which was a CNY pre-cusor story for last year's Chinese New Year sales blitz.:

Real estate agents in and around Vancouver are expecting big things this week, thanks to the Lunar New Year, which is typically a great time for sales.

Real estate agent Malcolm Hasman showed four Chinese families through a $7.8 million mansion in West Vancouver on Tuesday. The home has panoramic views, two kitchens and even a heated driveway.

UBC Prof. Duanduan Li says the Year of the Dragon is auspicious for big changes, including big purchases.  
"In the last two days, I’ve had non-stop telephone calls from all the top Chinese agents in the city to show my properties,” Hasman said.

With recent volatility in the stock market, buyers could be even more eager to invest in property, said Melanie Briggs, of MAC Marketing.

“Based on what we've seen in years past in our downtown projects, we've definitely seen at least double the volume of sales,” said Briggs. “So I wouldn't be surprised if we were to see triple the number of sales.
Briggs, apparent PR rep for MAC, was heavily promoting the downtown Maddox development for last year's Chinese New Year period.

(a sales period which, as we now know, was an absolute flop because the wave of Asian buyers failed to materialize)

Given Briggs' background, and her apparent lead role in things media-related for MAC, you've got to assume she played a prominent role in co-ordinating and setting the stage for the company's TV media foray with CBC and CTV on February 9th of this year.

So would it be natural to also assume she was in attendance to liaise with the media that day? 

If so, how is it that this former member of the television profession, this former reporter with Global-TV, and apparent media relations expert with MAC... how is it she hasn't been heard from yet?

Supposedly "the girls" found themselves in the position of perpetrating this fraud without senior MAC management knowing and intervening.

Where was Melanie Briggs?

Something doesn't make sense here.

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Update: The post originally identified the CBC news story of January 25th as 2013 when it is in fact from 2012. That has been corrected.

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43 comments:

  1. Mmm 100 employee org with a bulk of staff in sales and 15 in hq. big boss didn't know the promo strategy and tactics?

    The sad thing is the dumb Amanda lee used her real name. LoL

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  2. Cameron is lying. Melanie is lying low. (a word play there...)

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  3. I have saved the youtube video, let me know if it disappears from Youtube.

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  4. This MAC is one thoroughly rotten apple!

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  5. you do see that the cbc story is from a year ago -- January 2012. It refers to Year of the Dragon....

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  6. Not trying to be critical but isn't that story from last year's CNY?

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  7. While watching that video all I can think is what a bunch of douchebags motivated solely by the all-mighty dollar and preying on the consumer to overspend on their most expensive purchases in their lives. Even that video was marketing... of their own company. And the "golden cube awards" how corny is that? When this ship finally sinks for good all those people will have to find real employment.

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    Replies
    1. What on earth IS the Golden Cube awards anyway? It seems like a combination of employee, realtor and developer awards. Strange combination of internal and external audiences, if you ask me. Very self-indulgent as well.

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    2. I thought from the porno track they were looping that this was the Golden Shower Awards.

      Delete
  8. I saw some raw CBC footage of the camera man in the Maddox Sales Centre - it wasn't meant for airing on TV but after this fiasco, they released it when they aired the follow-up story. In the background you can see the "two sisters", two real Asian visitors looking at a 3D model display, but more importantly, management and sales staff in the same room. These "girls" did not act on their own, it was not a personal decision, there was a team of more senior colleagues there who condoned it.

    Look, even if those senior sales staff cry fowl and claim they had no clue what was going on "because they were just so busy", it is highly unlikely that those two "girls" would return to the sales centre after the camera man/reporter left, and NOT debrief their colleagues. I really don't think they kept what they did a secret after-the-fact, which raises the question: why didn't senior sales staff call the reporter and fess up before it aired? Clearly more than a few MAC Marketing staff knew about this -- it's documented in the footage! I bet if you zoomed in, you could identify some of them yourselves.

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  9. So much intrigue. If only there was some way for McNeill to get to the bottom of this!I suppose he's just banking on everybody forgetting about this within a week.

    As for the $20K fine, any company that can afford to put on that awards gala won't be too fussed about such a paltry amount. How about penalties that actually act as a deterrent?

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  10. What you are doing is called investigative blogging. Well done.

    Whether the video is this or last year the subject of the story remains the same.

    Mainstream Media has long given up investigative reporting and their fired staff - hocking real estate it seems.....

    Cheers,

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  11. I come from a big PR agency background and have 10+ years of experience in the field working with companies of all sizes from Vancouver to New York. Some observations:

    1. I have never come across a professional company with 100 employees that does not take media relations seriously. There is simply too much riding on media to approach it lightly - it can literally make or break a company. Organized companies have a media policy in place and have established protocols as well as media do's and don'ts to handle media interviews. If MAC didn't have any of this, it must be a disorganized, gong show of a company.

    Here's a sample media policy (it's not great but it gives you a general idea of the protocols): http://tinyurl.com/c4aop2e

    In my view, Global TV would have liaised with a designated media relations contact prior to arriving at the sales centre. There was likely a conversation that took place on the phone where Global inquired about the possibility of taping buyers from Asia. (I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during that conversation because that's likely where this whole debacle started.) What was said? What was planned? Perhaps Global TV can shed some light as I doubt MAC Marketing will come clean.

    2. If this media taping of the two girls somehow got lost in the fray "because the company was so busy", does that mean Cameron entrusts his company's media relations in the hands of rogue maverick employees and a former TV-show co-host with no formal Public Relations, Corporate Communications and Crisis Management training? Is this loosy-goosy style embedded in the culture of the organization? Melanie may not bring to the table the regimented experience required to successfully work behind the scenes in PR. The first person who Cameron should have called on the proverbial carpet was her. It's her area, she owns it. If someone was acting in her stead, this person was not adequately trained. And again, it falls on Melanie's shoulders unless she can demonstrate otherwise.

    3. In my experience arranging countless TV interviews, it is highly unlikely that Global TV merely showed up spontaneously or unannounced. The staff knew Global TV was coming. The point person meets the crew on site and escorts them throughout the entire visit. Full stop. Who met Global TV at the door? Something doesn't add up, but you guys already know that.

    4. Did the two girls sign a corporate photo/tv release form agreeing to be aired on TV?

    5. Organized companies have pre-written messaging, positioning and FAQ materials prepared long in advance of a media outreach campaign. It is baffling to me that: a) there wasn't real buyers pre-arranged in advance 2) a designated senior spokesperson available 3) prepared messaging for the Maddox.

    I dont know if MAC Marketing considers false statements real messaging; it is not. I dont know if the company considers strategically mentioning that the owner was "away for Family Day" smart messaging to evoke empathy. I do not. I find the after-event messaging just as manipulative as this whole incident. Why did Cameron feel the need to mention his family and why did he not simply say, "I was out-of-town for the weekend?" He gets demerits for that.

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  12. PART II

    6. Who wrote the media pitch and phoned Global TV? If it was Melanie, she is ultimately responsible for the on-site mess. Cameron is still responsible corporately for allowing this gong show to take place (if he truly had no idea any of this was going down, which I find unlikely). This media outreach program would have been part of a bigger 2013 marketing plan that several people reviewed and signed off on in advance. Trust me.

    7. Cameron actually conducted a good TV interview and (almost) said all the right things. I forget which network it was (the Van Public Library is in the background so maybe CBC?). He seemed contrite and sincere. What's unfortunate, however, is that he has a long history and reputation for being a cocky, arrogant guy who makes incredibly brazen, unsubstantiated public statements including one that was posted on VREAA (where he says to local buyers something along the lines of ‘quit your sniveling’) and several other media interviews where he irresponsibly throws words around and tells half truths about the market. In my mind, his past behaviour demonstrates how credible he is. Not just the handling of this incident. Taking into account his past track record, I don't find him credible; he comes across as a snake oil salesman. Maybe he needs more media training.

    8. Establishing trust with the media is paramount. Betray them, and they have very long memories and the power to ostracize you (they won't admit it but it happens). I doubt MAC will ever fully recover from this and be able to successfully rebuild their news media relationships. (Advertising sales is a different story.) So many news stories have been filed about this fiasco, that any time a new producer or journalist joins the network and quickly researches past stories in their internal database, this black eye will continue to haunt them.

    9. The internet leaves a significant online bread crumb trail. The online reputation damage is unfathomable. MAC Marketing will have to invest serious dollars into an online campaign to bump the negative stories and commentary. Unfortunately, online, they will live forever.

    10. MAC Marketing will likely have to rename and rebrand itself once this is all said and done. Other than throwing mega advertising dollars at the newspapers, MAC Marketing should lie low once this blows over. The company is now under the microscope and any further missteps will likely be magnified by its critics.

    11. This is a story that "has legs". There will be follow-up media stories on this incident. For example, the Real Estate Council, the licensing and legal body for realtors, will issue a verdict that likely includes fines and a suspension. This information is public and will be published on the website, at which time, an entire recap of the nightmare will re-air on TV and in the print media all over again.

    Please excuse typos - I pounded this out quickly.



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  13. At least now it wont be as easy for the media to pump out more bogus RE stories,until we forget.

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  14. CONTINUED


    6. Who wrote the media pitch and phoned Global TV? If it was Melanie, she is ultimately responsible for the on-site mess. Cameron is still responsible corporately for allowing this gong show to take place (if he truly had no idea any of this was going down, which I find unlikely). This media outreach program would have been part of a bigger 2013 marketing plan that several people reviewed and signed off on in advance. Trust me.

    7. Cameron actually conducted a good TV interview and (almost) said all the right things. I forget which network it was (the Van Public Library is in the background so maybe CBC?). He seemed contrite and sincere. What's unfortunate, however, is that he has a long history and reputation for being a cocky, arrogant guy who makes incredibly brazen, unsubstantiated public statements including one that was posted on VREAA (where he says to local buyers something along the lines of ‘quit your sniveling’) and several other media interviews where he irresponsibly throws words around and tells half truths about the market. In my mind, his past behaviour demonstrates how credible he is. Not just the handling of this incident. Taking into account his past track record, I don't find him credible; he comes across as a snake oil salesman. Maybe he needs more media training.

    8. Establishing trust with the media is paramount. Betray them, and they have very long memories and the power to ostracize you (they won't admit it but it happens). I doubt MAC will ever fully recover from this and be able to successfully rebuild their news media relationships. (Advertising sales is a different story.) So many news stories have been filed about this fiasco, that any time a new producer or journalist joins the network and quickly researches past stories in their internal database, this black eye will continue to haunt them.

    9. The internet leaves a significant online bread crumb trail. The online reputation damage is unfathomable. MAC Marketing will have to invest serious dollars into an online campaign to bump the negative stories and commentary. Unfortunately, online, they will live forever.

    10. MAC Marketing will likely have to rename and rebrand itself once this is all said and done. Other than throwing mega advertising dollars at the newspapers, MAC Marketing should lie low once this blows over. The company is now under the microscope and any further missteps will likely be magnified by its critics.

    11. This is a story that "has legs". There will be follow-up media stories on this incident. For example, the Real Estate Council, the licensing and legal body for realtors, will issue a verdict that likely includes fines and a suspension. This information is public and will be published on the website, at which time, an entire recap of the nightmare will re-air on TV and in the print media all over again.




    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. not a feng shui expertFebruary 17, 2013 at 12:17 AM

      Thank you for your very professional insights.

      Delete
  15. From Wiki article on Betteridge's law of headlines

    If the headline asks a question, try answering 'no.' Is This the True Face of Britain's Young? (Sensible reader: No.) Have We Found the Cure for AIDS? (No; or you wouldn't have put the question mark in.) Does This Map Provide the Key for Peace? (Probably not.) A headline with a question mark at the end means, in the vast majority of cases, that the story is tendentious or over-sold. It is often a scare story, or an attempt to elevate some run-of-the-mill piece of reporting into a national controversy and, preferably, a national panic. To a busy journalist hunting for real information a question mark means 'don't bother reading this bit'

    I know this is a blog, but still...

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  16. We need to take down Bob Rennie and Cam Good too for his fake yellow copters.

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  17. I'm glad you're following this through, but I think it needs a clear connection between Briggs and the story in question or it's just muckracking.

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    1. The connection is that she's the de facto PR/media relations rep for the company (who also wears a sales hat). Presumably, if she oversees media relations, she had some knowledge or involvement in this media-promo-gone-wrong. And man, did it go wrong. It BACKFIRED. Since Cameron hasn't yet named his scapegoat, the public is taking cheap shots, trying to guess who was behind this blunder.

      Delete
  18. The whole video shows how pompous and vain these agencies are at their core, along with their bought and paid for media pumpers. What a bunch of crap.

    Global TV in Vancouver isn't even a TV station. They don't broadcast any news outside of Vancouver or Canada for that matter. They are just another microcosm of this narcissitic "best place on earth" attitude that goes on here.

    Watching this whole ethic-less and biased, fraudulent industry work is enough to make you want to vomit.

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  19. In the absence of information, people will make stuff up and it will usually be bad. I'm not sure who Mcneill's trusted advisors are for this company crisis but it would behoove the company to explain exactly what happened and how it will never happen again.

    Until they do, the public will feel justified in speculating what happened and even go on an investigative witch hunt dissecting the lives of the company's employees until the truth is revealed and justice is served.

    How long is the owner going to say, "we are as outraged as you are are and if I was in your shoes I'd question what happened too" . Duh...

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  20. It's never the crime, it's the coverup that kills you.

    Perhaps the reason why the truth will never come out is that he knows the less he says the better because MAC Marketing is guilty. Anything more he says will open a can of worms and be dissected and analyzed because he's proven himself untrustworthy.

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  21. Either way, Melanie Briggs needs to lose a few pounds. Egad does she look awful in that dress. That smirk radiates over 2 full chins!

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    Replies
    1. regardless of their mistakes, you're comments are ridiculous jackass. Why are you making personal attacks on their appearance. I'm pretty sure that is border line cyber bullying. Grow up and stop hiding behind a computer screen

      Delete
    2. I thought she looked pretty! Your comment is mean.

      Delete
  22. Amanda HOT
    Melanie NOT!

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  23. It's not obvious to me that Melanie was directly involved in the Maddox incident but I think the quote further illustrates that this whole fraud was very much on message for MAC.

    Without knowing exactly how MAC's internal structure works the only people with obvious advance knowledge of the Amanda/Chris Lee fraud were 1. Everyone who was working in the showroom that day 2. Cameron McNeill. I'm sure others at MAC knew as well but it's not clear to me who they would be, I think it's a bit of conjecture to suggest she was involved, certainly someone very senior at MAC set up the event, CBC or CTV would probably be in a better position to tell us who.

    That video is a bit disturbing - its about time people and government stood up to the real estate industry, they are extracting an absurd economic rent (through commission dollars) given that they're essentially selling a commodity product. It's reminiscent of the commissions individual investors used to pay 20 years ago. The Competition Bureau will be on them for years to come.

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    Replies
    1. not a feng shui expertFebruary 17, 2013 at 12:33 AM

      "The great realtor rip-off

      Why is it so expensive to buy or sell a house in America?"

      economist.com/node/21554204

      Delete
  24. Ah..the beautiful people of the real estate industry. It is our Hollywood. Skirted around some of these folks through work. It's a totally plastic world. Nobody's 'real', anyway. It's all an act. So why should fake asians be out of place.

    When you live in a bubble and look out.. you see a distorted reflection of yourself.

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  25. MAC got caught for this shenanigan. Imagine what Bob Rennie has done in the past and didn't get caught. Let's think.....14,000 licensed realtors in the Lower Mainland, yet Bob Rennie sells most of the condo projects. You may ask, "why?"
    -Perhaps because he can relate to the chinese buyers because he speaks their language? NO, as far as I know Bob Rennie doesn't speak chinese.
    -Perhaps because he has been in the business longer than anyone else? NO
    -Perhaps because he builds up hype by marketing manipulation and deceit better than anyone else? Well, I know that there's a rumor he holds back 40% of sales to this mysterious Dr. Ko for each of his projects that he markets. He usually releases "Rules of the Game" for the lineup of purchasing the condos.
    Yep, MAC got caught. Rennie hasn't.

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  26. Let's see if Amanda and Melanie go looking for a job at Rennie Marketing.

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  27. Now Bob Rennie has one less competition. Do you think that he helped find Amanda's facebook page? Brilliant!

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  28. Congratulations to this blog for finding out the truth. Corrupt / incompetent news media gives Canada a bad name.

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  29. Melanie's Facebook page just deleted !

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    Replies
    1. They're running scared!

      Delete
    2. This little piggy inflated the market
      This little piggy listed a home
      This little piggy ate HAM
      This little piggy had none
      And these little piggies ran wee wee wee all the way home.

      Delete
  30. The whole condo market is a bubble

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  31. The sad part is that even after all this and no matter how much lies were tossed around, the people at the top of this industry will ride off in the sunset in their Ferrari's back to their penthouses.

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    Replies
    1. The public needs to remain aware of every future business association formal otherwise of people like this so we may exercise our right to take our money elsewhere.

      Maybe there should be a blog directed to just that. It would have to remain very factual and fair as it's primary purpose ultimately should not be punishment, but order and protection of society.

      Delete
  32. Yeah but they'll do it with a black eye and a severely marred reputation. A reputation based on trust and honesty is priceless. All the money in the world can't buy back a quality reputation for Cameron and the other real estate marketing frauds.

    Do you really think that real estate developers will have no hesitation hiring this company again? They simply can't take the risk.

    These guys are like stock promoters who pump and dump stocks. David Baines at the Vancouver Sun should write an expose on them if they're ever caught with their pants down again.

    Lastly, various real estate industry bodies had to issue official statements on this issue deploring MAC Marketing's shady practices. MAC Marketing and the other sleezy marketers can ride off into the sunset with their Ferraris, but their name is mud. I'll take my name and reputation thank you very much.

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  33. To quote Game of Thrones:

    Tywin Lannister: Your mother's dead. Before long I'll be dead, and you and your brother and your sister and all of her children, all of us dead, all of us rotting underground.

    It's the family name that lives on. It's all that lives on. Not your personal glory, not your honor... but family. You understand?

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