In Praise Of Douglas & Gordon

Property professionals have been talking a lot - A LOT - about London estate agent Douglas & Gordon’s highly successful viral marketing campaign called Under Offer. But for industry anoraks of a certain age, we have been here before with D&G.

Back in 1998, D&G used press advertising featuring a model wearing only Gucci knickers to promote a flat being sold in Cadogan Square.

The agency followed that up with an ad of a motor bike to promote a house in Chelsea. Then it ran ads appearing to say ‘All Estate Agents Are Merchant Bankers’.

For over a decade it has had unusual window displays: feather dusters shaped as flowers in one, while another had engine parts sprayed red. Then it had D&G pedal bikes. More recently it painted one of its branches with Banksy-esque sequinned words ‘Kill All Negative People’.

During the past 15 years the firm has scored technology direct hits too, with clever websites (technically clever, not just smart-arse clever) and now apps and its use of social media when some rival agents have been finding excuses not to do these things.

The latest viral campaign suggests the firm deserves credit on three counts.

Firstly, its online films are plain funny. Plenty of estate agents are individually very well-humoured but some corporate identities are... well, let’s be honest, po-faced and stuck up about what they do. Maybe it’s because so many members of the public mock estate agents and developers that, like journalists, they can take themselves too seriously: D&G avoids that pitfall.

Secondly, D&G has shown that a small firm (which in its own words, and in central London terms, operates only in the mid-market) can generate extraordinary publicity like this. That’s a pretty good return on investment.

Thirdly, the agency has demonstrated to a very conservative estate agency and developer industry that viral marketing may well be the future. Many stuffy estate agents and house builders may not have even considered the technique. And I bet quite a few are not even sure what it is, although they may never admit it.

Heaven knows what some crustier quarters of the property establishment will make of an estate agency creating films which can be viewed only on YouTube, in which the brand appears only peripherally, and which pokes fun at the industry.

As for most other people, though...I suspect they find Under Offer rather fun. And they may remember Douglas & Gordon’s name as a result.

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