Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tues Post #1: Media Manipulation? You decide.

Took a break for the long weekend, but let's pick up where we left off.

On Thursday we talked about all the hype in the real estate world with the upcoming Chinese New Year.

 “It’s hard to say what’s going to happen this year, but I expect we will see a bump in sales activity during the month of February,” said Cameron McNeil, president of project-marketing firm MAC Marketing Solutions.
Take note of that company, MAC Marketing Solutions. We'll be coming back to that shortly.

For now, back to the Sun article
McNeil said Asian buyers have been more active in the Metro Vancouver market in recent weeks than they were through the middle of 2012.
Asian buyer have been more active in the Metro Vancouver market in recent weeks?

We laughed at that on Thursday.  Smacks of media created hype to us, another lame attempt to generate phantom demand as a lever to encourage buyers to "buy now before the Asian surge prices you out of the market".
McNeil said his salespeople are seeing an increase in activity, including from Chinese buyers.

“To me, (Chinese buyers) are a leading indicator,” McNeil said. “What I mean is, when Chinese buyers are active, it is a little bit of a bellwether (for the overall market), and the Chinese are active.”

Buyers are taking their time, McNeil said, but for developments in good locations with “fair values, prices aren’t coming off and are selling very well.”

He added that locations with established neighbourhoods, good schools and proximity to rapid transit are popular
As frequent poster, Bo Xilai, noted:
Yeah, I can see wealthy Mainland Chinese buyers consider proximity to rapid transit as being SUPER important to their buying decision.

Why take the Bentley when you can ride the Canada Line?

Maybe Mr. MacNeil is trying to get his real audience – brokeass first time home buyers – off the fence.
That is exactly what we think the entire 'media campaign is all about, manipulating local first time home  buyers off their collective butts to get into the market.

All weekend long, articles appeared promoting this thread.

Perhaps the best was this one over on CTV. The title of the news piece: "Year of the Snake nets condo sales: developers"

CTV takes us to the Maddox condo development in downtown Vancouver. Maddox is being marketed by MAC Marketing Solutions... yes, the same MAC Marketing Solutions from the Vancouver Sun article on Thursday.

In the Maddox display suite, CTV introduces us to two potential Asian buyers.
Chris Lee, who moved to Vancouver from China two years ago, said she and her sister are looking to buy a hip downtown condo, and now that their parents are in town for two weeks celebrating Chinese New Year, they have financial help. 
“If we like this place we have to tell them and they make the decision,” Lee said. “Usually Chinese people like to buy during this time.” 
Condo developers embraced the influx of offshore buyers, with some companies bringing in additional Chinese-speaking staff to help sell units.
Chris does all the talking, but the two sisters are identified in the story. They Amanda Lee and Chris Lee.

So let's summarize here for a moment.  

The market is in a deep slump, but we get a big media blitz for Chinese New Year telling everyone the market is suddenly "alive in recent weeks with Asian buyers." Asian buyers who are looking for the same sort things in real estate that local buyers are looking for.

At the heart of the media blitz is MAC Marketing Systems. They conveniently back up their media campaign with two classic children of wealthy Asian parents, parents who are coming to town to buy them a condo for CNY.

See?  The market is alive and well... the overseas Asians are buying again, are you going to be left out?


Not so fast though. These 'overseas wealthy Asians' might not be as 'overseas' as we have been lead to believe.

I know when I first saw this clip, the spidey senses were a-tingling. Didn't we see something like this last year when one of Cam Good's salespersons posed as a groupon condo buyer for Global TV

Other skeptics were having their doubts too. Over on VCI, Saint Patrick dug up an interesting profile on linkedin (click on image to enlarge):

Yep... you read that right.  

Coincidence of coincidences, MAC Marketing Solutions has an Administrative Assistant named Amanda Lee who not only works for MAC Marketing Solutions - but her current background says she's attached to the Maddox Downtown condo development. 

You don't say?  No ethic issues here, move along... I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

The weekend was topped off by an interesting email in my in-basket which I have only gotten around to reading early this morning.  It is from Matthew Black, a reporter from CBC-TV:
My name is Matthew Black and I'm a reporter with CBC Vancouver TV. 
I 'm looking to a 'myth busting' style piece on the supposed spike in real estate sales during Chinese New Year. I was quite interested by your blog posts on this subject. 
Would you be available to chat sometime today? I can be reached at 604.XXX.XXX or on my cell at 778.XXX.XXX 
-Matthew Black CBC News Vancouver
Appreciate the email, Matthew.  But the reality is that an anonymous blogger may not be the best interview for a TV reporter (kinda defeats the whole 'anonymous' thing).

But if you're up for it, I'd be willing to bet Amanda Lee would make a great focus for a 'myth busting style news piece.'

If the CTV Amanda and the MAC Marketing Solutions Amanda are both one and the same, why is the media standing by while the public is blatantly manipulated by the real estate industry in this fashion?

See if you can get her parents too. I understand they're in town this week.

Email: village_whisperer@live.ca Click 'comments' below to contribute to this post.
Please read disclaimer at bottom of blog.


  1. Busted! Too F'ing funny. What a bunch of weasels.

  2. Doesn't get much more bush league than that. Nice catch sir!

  3. If they are going to lie, they should at least use fake names. Do it right.

  4. MAC and Rennie Marketing.....not much more to say. Not the first time they fabricating the "news".

  5. You need to talk to this reporter. Borrow someone else's cell phone, or use a pay phone to remain anonymous.

  6. wow...that's greasy. i feel the need to shower.

  7. Desperate times call for desperate measures

  8. Nothing but nothing surprises me any more.
    Theres no more land, buy now or be priced out forever,theres 888 bids coming in right now, on and on it goes.
    Talk to the reporter, figure out a way.

  9. I wonder if these condo floggers are advertisers on the local MSM. That might partially explain why the MSM are so quick to jump on these "stories", without doing any basic due diligence.

  10. Contact info of Matthew Black:


    Everyone, send in your gathered intelligence :D

  11. Great investigative reporting. Wishful thinking to want the news to report accurate info. Shame on CTV

  12. Wow. This is just like the other fake news stories with realtor's or agents posing as clients for the news. This is not the only expose this site has uncovered. GO MATT!!! GO CBC!!!

  13. To MAC and CTV : FRAUD - In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud.

    1. Yeah, blatant fraud in every sense of the word. It's all quite disgusting

      An Observer

    2. Like I said......put em in jail.
      Good work Whisperer.


  14. If anyone is going to remain impartial/objective its going to be the cbc compared to the other local outlets. They need to do something here - it's a disgusting practice. There are many young people that are clueless and rely on the MSM to make major life decisions. You might say they deserve what they get if they can't see the big picture, but it is unfair when everyone is bombarded with this crap and rely on local media for truthful reporting. It is an "engineered" edge that is unfair and unethical and counterintuitive to what the media should be about. Shame on ctv and global. I'll be watching for a story from Matt... this could be big for him, death threats and all.

    1. The CBC isn't going to embarrass another news organization. CBC reporters might want a job with them in the future.

  15. This speaks to so many issues right now–deception in the real estate market, the degradation of journalistic standards, the operatives of how real estate prices in Vancouver became so inflated, the issue of HAM and how true it is that HAM have inflated our prices or whether that was just a marketing gimmick.

    The perception (rightly or wrongly) that housing is unaffordable to local people due to HAM investors is causing a great deal of racial animosity in our society. It is undermining Trudeau’s vision of a multicultural society where different races live in harmony. So if it is true that condo marketers and the local media have been deliberately deceiving the public into thinking that HAM are the cause of high prices, then they are guilty of something far worse than just pumping up real estate. If they really did this, they would be guilty of creating social tensions and racism and undermining multiculturalism.

    And I say all of this with the words “IF THIS IS TRUE” underlined. So far everything is being alleged. I am not claiming there is definitive proof of any wrong doing. I wouldn’t want to be accused of slander.

  16. I also believe that it is the same Amanda Lee in both the CTV report and MAC, but I would like to remove the last sliver of doubt with some tangible evidence. Can anyone provide a smoking gun?

    1. http://imgur.com/ax6kMDA

    2. Exactly, this was all on VCI yesterday, her Facebook account which shows all her photos. Same as the video.

  17. Hey everyone,

    Don't just slag CTV. CBC local news ran with almost the identical story also!

  18. Obviously, it's fradulent...so now my questions are more technical, such as: how was CTV contacted? Who wrote the "script" and why did CTV run with it as the lead supper-hour news item? What persuaded them to do so? Was it disclosed that A_Lee was an employee of the firm marketing the condos? Did CTV know this was a totally scripted advertorial and did they investigate to see if there was any *real* Chinese purchasing activity as the result of CNY? Most importantly, did CTV News receive any kind of monetary benefit from MAC Marketing for running this item as the lead news story on the nightly news broadcast?

  19. CBC ran virtually the same exact story on Saturday night's local news, except in their version we're lead to beleive that Chris Lee bought the condo they were looking at. Coincidentally this is one of the most overpriced condo projects in all of downtown, Ian Watt even suggested as much in one of his most recent video blogs.

  20. Go to 1:50 of this video, I'm not aware of any other major pre-sales projects along Drake Street: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPThYBYwmAI&list=UUkYIS_mGGEioAF_nv1BINcw

  21. I remember seeing an ad for a condo development a few years ago - I forget which one but it was somewhere around Gastown or Chinatown. Anyway it featured a photo of young couple who had just bought one of the units. I recognized one of them (friend of a friend) and mentioned it to my friend. Turns out that couple never bought a unit, and were only in the ad because one of them was related to someone in the marketing company.

    Seems like this has been going on for a while.

  22. CBC's story: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/BC/ID/2333674031/

  23. I wouldn't buy a pack of pipe cleaners from a man with shaped eyebrows, let alone a condo.

  24. They are not busted until the mainstream media gets it out there to the masses. This blog has uncovered alot of these types of media shinnanigans in the past but it has always been swept under the rug and gone un-noticed. I hope that CTV does the right thing and retracts the story or digs deeper into how they may have been tricked. Now that's a story.

  25. Is this worse than the Marine Gateway sellout news media fiasco? I guess so because the lie is executed so poorly. Remember this.


  26. The two girls don't even look like sisters.

  27. They look like Chinese, but I would question whether Amanda Lee is from China (Mainland). Over there they would spell their surname Li. Lee is the way they would spell the same surname in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Not very clever.

  28. Congrats on this story, its in the Globe today.

  29. The blogger must be a renter waiting for a 50% drop in house prices. LOL.

    Keep waiting.

  30. I struggle to understand why would the reporter, Shannon Paterson, from CTV failed to perform due diligence on the materials/subjects surrounding the story. Isn't just a google search away? If the blogger here can do this, why the reporter can't? Did CTV require and train all the reports to perform due diligence? I think CTV is responsible to answer these questions.

  31. http://www.theprovince.com/business/Senior+manager+resigns+after+Real+Estate+company+caught/7999235/story.html