‘Quality of life’ ads spurn shots of finished homes

At the Westwood Plateau development in Coquitlam, b.c., the backyard is 'full of holes,' the landscapers have 'gone wild,' and the sales reps 'babble.'What the 1993 print and tv campaign was referring to was the golf courses, wooded areas and proverbial...

At the Westwood Plateau development in Coquitlam, b.c., the backyard is ‘full of holes,’ the landscapers have ‘gone wild,’ and the sales reps ‘babble.’

What the 1993 print and tv campaign was referring to was the golf courses, wooded areas and proverbial babbling brooks in the 1,400-acre residential project in one of Vancouver’s fastest growing suburbs.

Half of the $200-million development, which is expected to comprise 15,000 residents in 4,500 units over 10 years, is protected natural land or reserved for recreational use.

Nary a house appears in the photos and spots prepared for the 1993 campaign.

‘Everybody in the business wants to show a house,’ says Tony Zappone, director of marketing for Westwood Plateau, operated by Wesbild Enterprises, which owns shopping malls, condos, single-family homes and electronics retail chain The Future Shop.

‘It’s the obvious thing,’ Zappone says. ‘But we want to tell people about the quality of life.’

And Zappone says the tv spot in the award-winning campaign, from Vancouver ad agency Palmer Jarvis Advertising, helped to build that very image for Westwood Plateau.

Although he says tv was risky for a developer – delivering a less focussed message – the spot relayed to potential homeowners that Westwood is one of the busiest, low-density residential developments in North America.

In fact, Westwood has become the most recognized and awarded development in Canada, snapping up 45 awards for its landscaping, environmental impact, entry gates and logo.

While marketing budgets are not disclosed, Zappone says 4% of revenue is committed to advertising and public relations campaigns.

Another way Wesbild has promoted the idea of quality at Westwood is through its demand for high standards from the 50 builders involved with the project.

Approved builders are first screened, and then must pay huge security deposits to cover any ‘deficiencies’ observed by Wesbild.

In addition, builders have to comply with other strict guidelines, such as common signage, clean work sites and building standards.

One marketing innovation employed by Wesbild is the Street of Dreams, a multi-home display of the latest in residential design.

The month-long public relations package was first imported to Canada from Seattle in 1992 and will make an appearance again from Aug. 13 to Sept. 18.

Zappone says the first showing drew 120,000 people – the largest traffic count of any Street of Dreams promotion in North America – and the company expects 150,000 people this fall.

Westwood is also working to develop a relationship with the Coquitlam community, perhaps to alleviate some fears about the future impact of the huge development.

Sponsorships include the Coquitlam Mad Max lacrosse team and other industry-related sponsorships in minor hockey and golf.