Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wed Post #1: More on the MAC story

Yesterday's posts generated a wave of attention, and rightly so.

The hype created by Chinese New Year is crucial.  And last weekend it seemed we were hit by a media blitz from all over.

But there was a central theme to all the media hype, behind which lurked MAC Marketing Solutions.

We saw them prominently in this article in the Vancouver Sun.
 “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.
They were also front and centre in this one over on CTV.

CTV took us to the Maddox condo development in downtown Vancouver. Maddox is being marketed by MAC Marketing Solutions and as MAC's Nick Jensen explains: "It's certainly one of our biggest times of the year. We see a lot of traffic over the next two weeks... certainly these two weeks are critical to developers and really set the tone for the market ahead" 
How critical? Critical enough to manufacture the photo op to launch this important two week period? The CTV-TV story featured two sisters who were looking to buy a condo at Maddox: Chris and Amanda Lee.
Curiously 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 profiled in the CTV-TV.  We learned this from a LinkedIn profile:
And as we noted yesterday, this Amanda Lee has a Facebook page and bears a striking similarity to the young buyer profiled in the CTV-TV story. If the two are one and the same, it raises some serious ethical questions.
Our post yesterday also had a curious twist. 
CBC-TV reporter Matthew Black contacted this blog stating that he would "like to do a 'myth busting' style piece on the supposed spike in real estate sales during Chinese New Year."  Awesome. We humbly suggested Mr. Black could start by looking into this Ms Amanda Lee and the conflict inherent in having a sales rep pose as a buyer for a crucial press op by the developer. If this is what happened, then the crafty photo op compounds the apparent manipulation by stressing that wealthy Asians are just like you and I... and are looking for the same things in a Condo. The (not-so) subliminal message being: the Asians are buying again, you should too! Now the only problem with that suggestion is that the newsstory was done on CTV-BC.  Rarely will you see one media outlet target the content of another media outlet. (Unless it involves a politician.  Can you imagine the uproar if Christy Clark set up a photo op and used a staff member to portray a member of the public as the central part of a photo op without revealing this in a disclaimer?  The media would be all over exposing that like white on rice.  There would also be widespread media disgust at having been manipulated in this fashion) But wait! It wasn't just CTV-BC that ran coverage of the MAC photo op.  So did CBC-TV. And it was Matthew Black himself that reported the story:
Basinga!  The expose can begin!
Interestingly CBC-TV starts it off with it's own subliminal slight towards the developers as they appear to ask if the developers are selling snake oil hype:
The CBC-TV story focused almost exclusively on the other sister we saw in the CTV-TV story, Chris Lee.  But Amanda is prominent in the CBC version. She is seen walking around with her 'sister' and posing as an interested potential buyer: 
Will we see an expose on this by CBC-TV? 
Or could it be that this was a legitimate story. Could it be that Amanda Lee is not only a member of the MAC sales team, but is also a customer - her wealthy Asian parents coming in for CNY to purchase one of Amanda's condos for the sister duo? Or maybe they are two separate people, the similar names a mere coincidence?
For what it's worth we followed up with Mr. Black on his original email.
He tells us he has gotten a few tips from the contributors to our comments section and that it's a story he will be pressing his bosses to pursue.
We'll see what happens.
Email:    Click 'comments' below to contribute to this post. Please read disclaimer at bottom of blog.


  1. Well Mr. Black. Restore some of our faith in the media and follow up on the story by confronting MAC with what they appear to have done.

  2. The media did not expose the "chinese helicopter" bit did they?

    Other than the philosophical pursuit of "truth", what is the motivation to expose MAC Marketing?

  3. I can tell you that NOTHING will come of this from the MSM. It will be buried. They are too lazy and also the R/E machine is too big now for the media to have any control over.

  4. When it becomes clear Chinese New Year is a sales flop, I have a feeling we will see the media finally start to show more and more of what is really going on.

  5. BCREA Department of Information has put out an all points bulletin : "Mathew black is going off the reservation"

    BCREA needs him back for reprogramming.

    Does everyone else notice that CBC CTV and Global all run the same stories as each other every night, just at different time slots.

    BTW Corporate Communications 101 is control the message.

  6. Check out her Facebook site now... no more pictures of her or references to MAC or Maddox.

    Isn't the internet great where someone can't just 'wipe away the evidence'?

    1. So that just proved her identity as MAC marketing admin assistant AND CTV interviewee, didn't it?

    2. hahahaha. This will be the topic for Whiperer tonight... people are so stupid. You should know on the Internet the removal of information that was once there says just as much as posting it in the first place.

  7. Sadly, for Mr. Black to follow up would not just expose the scam but would call into question his own credibility. Despite the fact that any self-respecting journalist SHOULD want to investigate anyone who would use them as a patsy, I suspect that in Vancouver this sort of charade is par for the course in the "news" world and Mr. Black will be comfortable maintaining the status quo and keeping his employment stable.

    These real estate companies must really hold the local media in contempt since they are so easily manipulated and show no spine or interest in actual journalism. It's to all of our detriment.

  8. What a hilarious story... in a sad kind of way.

    I guess Vancouver is now so sold out to foreign interests that it is fully dependent on Chinese buyers to uphold the market.

    Another tale of the high ethics upheld by the realty industry- the developers are in bed with the marketers, who are in bed with the media along with the realtors, realty boards and their industry experts, and everybody is fondling each other so they can screw the next fool.

  9. It is like the story of the shoe shine boy giving stock tips. Once the shoe shine boy is in everyone is in and there are no buyers left.

    Once you have to use your own staff to look like prospective buyers then there is no buyer left.

  10. I am beginning to suspect this Matthew black is just a mole into all this. Namely, he pretended to be interested in creating a myth-busting story but his intention is really to collect all evidences (FB profile of Amanda Lee, etc.) and have them removed once and for all.

    Time will tell.

    1. You can't burst a lie that doesn't exist.

  11. FB public profile stripped of headshots, and no longer mentioned as working for MAC. Company directive?

  12. Conventional news media is on the ropes and losing relevance and audience. Thomson Reuters announced 2700 layoffs today.

    CBC, CTV, etc, will take whatever comes their way. If MAC wants to run a "story", it's unlikely news media will refuse. Beggars can't be choosers.

  13. Isn't this a job for adbusters?

  14. This story will only be written in hindsight once the bubble bursts and the media starts doing stories on the effect of media in pumping bubbles. So ETA for this story is somewhere 2016-2017. Don't bother holding your breath.

  15. I'd be ultra embarrassed as a so called objective professional journalist if I'd been duped by a condo marketing company. After all, who could have thought these two well-mannered Chinese girls were really conning me into giving free advertising for their condo company, and participating in a media control exercise.