Quinte, On. real estate agent: Dumb Advertising

Dumb Advertising

There's an insurance broker who has spent a lot of money advertising this year.  Every phone book in this area came with a fridge magnet attached to the cover. This fellow operates out of a town that's about 75 miles away, so I'm not sure if his magnet is attached to all the phone books between here or there or not, however, either way, it's a hefty investment in advertising.


People tend to dislike insurance companies, and this "maverick" is playing up on that sentiment by billing himself as being the "most hated" by his competitors. I guess he would like people to think of him as the Robin Hood of the insurance world.  To me, this seems to be more like sophomoric posturing than anything else. The little "As seen on TV" tag beside his photograph really seals the deal. While some of his clients may believe him to be "cool", as evidenced by the testimonial on the magnet, he comes off as more of a clown in my eyes.

Even though he doesn't directly express the notion, there's a clear implication in this advertising that everybody else in his industry is somewhat crooked by charging too much, and that he's the guy who will fight for the little guys. I don't think that he's doing anybody a service by promulgating this belief. I'm sure that the long term effects of promoting this image of himself will be more harmful to his career, especially when others in his business start looking down their noses at him.

I'm not sure that I would want someone who revels in being "the most hated" working for me. If someone, by virtue of their diligence, is disliked by others in their industry, then that would be a different story. It should be a side effect, not a goal, and I would be comfortable with that. To focus on this one aspect and let it become the main thrust of an advertising campaign seems very crass and immature. 

There are real estate professionals who also try to use negative advertising in their campaigns. I haven't seen anything as blatant as this yet, but I'm sure it's coming, especially after The Canadian Real Estate Association has reached a very public agreement with the Competition Bureau. I won't be doing any such advertising myself, I'll leave that for the politicians, furniture salespeople, and the "maverick" insurance brokers who like to make their competition tremble. 


Comment balloon 15 commentsMalcolm Johnston • December 22 2010 02:34PM


I have not seen anything in our area like this in the real estate world.  I wonder how it is working out for this guy, his industry is a little different maybe he can pull this off---who knows

Posted by Bob Jakowinicz, Michigan Real Estate Agent-- MI RE Adventures (National Realty Centers Livonia--Bob Jakowinicz) about 8 years ago

Interesting gimmick this one maverick is using.  I wonder if it's working for him?

Posted by Lanette Branch, Bel Air, MD REALTOR (RE/MAX Components) about 8 years ago

Malcolm: He is getting attention and if it works for him and his comfort zone, so be it. It takes all kinds!


Posted by Ty Lacroix (Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc) about 8 years ago

Interesting marketing approach and quite an investment in magnets.  I doubt the negativity strategy would be well received in the residential real estate market.  His brand does grab your attention though and he's banking it will yield results.

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) about 8 years ago


Sometimes sensationalism pays off.....look at 'Honest Ed' and his advertisements...tacky, but they work. He must be spending a lot on his marketing though if he's giving out fridge magnets all the way down in your area.


Posted by Jo-Anne Smith about 8 years ago

Bob, I'm not sure if it's working for him or not.

Lanette, it's certainly is an interesting gimmick

Ty, I guess the fellow is getting attention, but is it the right kind, or is any attention good attention?

John, The insurance biz certainly is competetive.

Norma, insinuation that others in your profession are hiding something, and that you're revealing some "shocking raw truth" certainly is negative.

Jo-Anne, sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it makes you look foolish.

Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) about 8 years ago


very soon, those negative ads will be out there. Spring is just around the corner.


Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) about 8 years ago

Malcom - I've never seen anything like that type of advertising here in Victoria. The cost of the fridge magnets must be enormous!

Posted by David Stevens, Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty (Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty, Victoria BC Canada) about 8 years ago

Hi Malcolm,

Negative messages seem to be the trend these days. I'll watch a TV commercial or hear a radio ad that actually results in a negative result for whoever is using a service or buys the product and I think to myself, "And I'd want to buy that, why?"

I always thought advertising was supposed to show consumers that if they buy the product or use the service, it will make their lives better.

I don't get this negative stuff. 

Posted by Not In Real Estate Any Longer about 8 years ago

Not my kind of advertising, but if it works….

Interesting that you lumped furniture salespeople in there with politicians.

Posted by Jim Frimmer, Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist (HomeSmart Realty West) about 8 years ago

Best wishes for lots of fun and food with family and friends today. Hope Santa brought you some cool toys, too!

Happy Holidays!



Posted by Not a real person about 8 years ago

Malcolm, there seems to be a lot of negative advertising. Whether it is for a service, a product or a political campaign. I tend to stay away from those that use it.

Posted by Janice Ankrett, Staging Professional (Janice Ankrett Home Staging) about 8 years ago

Malcolm, there is an old saying that comes to mind... know matter what, you have to sleep with yourself..

I would not be comfortable with that sort of promotion.  This is not how I wish the public, nor my clients, to envision me...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 8 years ago

This is indeed a strange way to advertise and I am sure that it cost a pretty penny. That money could have been put to much better use!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) about 8 years ago

Brian, that's what I'm envisioning for the real estate industry with all the publicity surrounding the competition bureau brouhaha. It will encourage this kind of tomfoolery in this business.

David, I would think that it did cost quite a bit

Pam, yes, unfortunately negaive advertising is becoming more and more the norm these days.

Jim, I'm not sure why I lumped furniture salespeople in there, I think it's because of a certain fellow in Toronto who calls himself Badboy. It's a bit of a clownish gimmick.

Russel, Santa did bring me some cool toys this year. He's always good to me because I'm such a well-behaved chap.

Janice, negativity does leave a bad taste in my mouth too.

Chris, it's really not how I'd want others to see me either.

Barbara-Jo, it probably did cost him a fortune, and it probably did work quite well. It's raised his profile tremendously.


Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) about 8 years ago