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Silicon Valley News Notes

Surreal Estate Campaign


In this real estate market, builders are having to taking it to the streets to sell condos in downtown San Jose. Downtown workers may have noticed a troop of young, attractive, sign-wielding "protesters" marching up and down Santa Clara Street last Friday afternoon, chanting slogans like "Less Dues, Better Views" while handing out superhero-adorned pamphlets. This intrusive if creative bit of urban guerrilla marketing was paid for by Barry Swenson, whose company is trying the get the word out about its City Heights high-rise condo development at 175 W. St. James St. Their marketing firm Pacific Marketing Associates Inc. came up with the pseudopolitical action scheme during a brainstorm on how to reach downtown workers directly. "They brought up the idea to us, and we thought, OK, that's different. That would help generate some excitement and get people in the door," says Christy Marbry, part of the development and project management team for Barry Swenson Builders. They say that these fake rallies have paid off: Traffic has tripled at City Heights, and they received a whopping four deposits this past weekend. "This is pretty unique, we hadn't done anything like it in the past," says marketing manager Carrie Newbury. "Were going to be thinking about doing more because it's outside the box. Even the graphics we're using in this campaign are really eye-catching. They're not necessarily a real-estate sign." In fact, Pacific Marketing represents three downtown condo towers: The 88, the Axis and City Heights. Since The 88 bagged Safeway, it seems like City Heights' advertising rally and the fact they are now featuring cartoon heroes is indicative of their young professional target buyer. On the flip side, the Axis is using its stylish condo development as a plush event space itself. Through December they are hosting an [email protected] show in one of their unsold penthouses, and they even held a recent fashion show/cancer benefit, the idea being that if they get a bunch of cultured people in the lobby, they'll start to picture themselves living in the posh building.


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