Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thiur Post #1: MAC Marketing president Cameron McNeill attempts to substitute an email in place of a formal press conference to account for media fraud

Almost a week after the MAC Marketing Solutions media manipulation story first broke in the press, MAC president Cameron McNeill has finally addressed the issue.

In a posting to the company's Facebook page, the president issued this statement:

McNeill says:
For over ten years, MAC Marketing Solutions has strived for excellence built on a foundation of honesty, integrity and professionalism. This was rocked 10 days ago when poor judgment resulted in an inappropriate and uncharacteristic incident. I apologize for that incident and pledge that nothing like this will ever happen again at MAC. Having had the opportunity to assess the situation I have taken decisive actions. Although it will take time, we hope that we can earn back our good reputation and your trust. This situation has been difficult for everyone and as a company, we will learn from this, grow stronger and be better for it.


Cameron McNeill
President, MAC Marketing Solutions
Business in Vancouver Magazine (BIV) was the first to go to press with the announcement which was fortuitous for them because they, at least, were able to talk to the embattled condo marketer.
A senior manager at MAC Marketing Solutions has left the company in the wake of a scandal that involved the company's employees pretending to be daughters of wealthy Chinese parents who wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year by buying a condominium.

McNeill would not name the senior manager nor say whether he fired the employee or the person quit.

"Some poor judgments were made and those poor judgments led to unfortunate circumstances," McNeill told BIV earlier today.

"I'm not going to say that my investigation is finished entirely but I have a much clearer picture. There's going to be more things that may come to light but I've spoken with everyone on the site that day and I have a much clearer picture of what transpired."
What makes BIV's article significant is that it is the only place you will see McNeill say, "I'm not going to say that my investigation is finished entirely... there's going to be more things that may come to light."

Certainly the Facebook statement gives you the impression his investigation is finished. In fact to read it you are left with the impression that the matter is over, dealt with... and now it's time to move on.

Is that why McNeill didn't even hold a press conference for the two television stations his employees deceived? McNeill simply notified them about his findings via email.

CBC-TV reporter Matthew Black tweeted:
In an email to CBC, MAC Marketing owner Cameron McNeill writes he implemented "appropriate actions" vs employees who duped media and that he accepted the resignation of a "MAC senior manager." But, McNeill won't comment on specifics, citing privacy concerns.
Naturally the Fourth Estate is a little stunned here.  McNeill's statement is far from an adequate explanation.  As Matthew Black commented in another tweet:
Statement from MAC Marketing doesn't elaborate on what "decisive actions" it took, or who was fired/resigned after duping media.
And considering it was the media who was duped, and by extension the public, McNeill's statement is sorely lacking.

In the meantime, let's look at what we have been told. Who was the senior manager "fired/resigned"?

Was it MAC's Melanie Briggs?  Doubtful considering a 'Linda Briggs' liked the announcement on Facebook:

Was it Nic Jensen, originally identified in the CBC-TV story as working for MAC Marketing?

Doubtful, because it appears the media got his association with MAC wrong.  Search 'Nic Jensen' and scores of references come up identifying Jensen as manager of sales and marketing for Amacon Developments.  The internet is full of stories detailing partnerships between Jensen and McNeill.  Jensen is even identified on the MAC website as having been a presenter on behalf of Amacon at the 2012 Golden Cube awards.

Kinda hard to believe a non-employee resigned.

That only leaves the blonde woman who conducted the sales tour of the display suite with "the girls":

Is she a senior manager with MAC Marketing?

Regardless of who the senior manager is, the mere fact one was fired/resigned raises a hornet's nest of other questions.

It appears to be an admission that "the girls" didn't act on their own.  Is McNeill saying "the girls" were ordered to participate in this charade for fear of losing their jobs?

If not, what are the repercussions for them? If they weren't ordered, it confirms that there was a group of people perpetrating this fraud.  And just because one senior manager has resigned, the issue is far from over.

As Arnold Shuchat noted in our comments section yesterday, the Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC) is investigating this issue:

Real Estate Council Investigates Condominium Marketing Complaints

Real estate licensees may be aware of recent media reports with respect to the marketing practices of some real estate licensees involved in the sale of condominium developments. The Council is currently investigating these matters to determine whether or not the activities reported on may constitute breaches of licensees' professional obligations under the Real Estate Services Act.
I doubt the RECBC will be as quick to absolve the actions of Amanda Lee, the fictitious Chris Lee, the blonde sales lady and Nic Jensen (who despite being from Amacon still participated in this charade).

Neither will the Federal Competition Bureau of Canada (and we are still attempting to confirm they are actually investigating this complaint as described yesterday).

But it's the Fourth Estate, the news media, who will probably be the first to ask for a more detailed accounting.

The Vancouver Sun got the email story to press right away, but I doubt CBC-TV and CTV-BC will be as willing to allow an email/Facebook posting to serve as MAC's accounting of events.

For anyone to believe that betrays a profound under-appreciation of the false and misleading representations sections of the Federal Competition Act.  Reading the various maximum penalties they can levy gives you a sense of just how serious this is:

And given their involvement in this scandal as the ones who were duped, it's hard to believe the TV press is simply going to walk away from this story because MAC sent out an email.

If they did, can you imagine how bad they would look after the fact?


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  1. What is Chris' real name?

    Amanda Lee gets all the bad attention but at least she was honest with her name during the interview.

  2. At least Nic Jensen's employer believes in truth in its corporate representions.

    Just take out the "A" and substitute it with an "I".

    AMACON =
    (I')M A CON

  3. It is Nic Jensen who's gone

  4. How will Nic pay for his eyebrow waxing now?

  5. Mcneill thinks he can bury a few scapegoats and slide out from this, but I smell a lynching that won't stop until Mcneill himself is hangin from a lampost.