Here we go again…

So now we have part 2.

With the debate on the merits of part 1 of the estate agent ‘mockumentary’ still smoldering the makers have just sprayed petrol on the embers with the release of the next ‘episode’ which has been launched today and it is likely to divide opinion once more. Part 2 includes some equally clever editing, the same prep-school humour and must surely beg the question if the performers are in fact just resting actors. It is, it has to be said, very, very well made!

In the last few days the national press has picked up on the story with splashes in The Mail on Sunday and The Sun and the YouTube counter has clicked up over 30,000 viewings. As suspected, south London agents Douglas & Gordon have owned up to being the architects of what they limply describe as being something “intended only for industry insiders” and they are quite clearly relishing the publicity they have achieved. Whilst the films obviously tickle the funny-bone many though are questioning the wisdom of producing such a film with predictions from some that it will backfire.

Douglas & Gordon have linked their brand to a film portraying a business that many members of the public can readily identify with. Whilst most accept it is a joke the bawdy humour, questionable behavior and suspect morals resonates with them. It’s funny frankly because that is how the public perceive agents.

Still the question that many are asking is how can this be good for the D&G brand? It’s clearly too expensive an exercise just to be something that was meant to cheer up the industry and yet it seems in advertising terms to be the equivalent of sponsoring the Titanic. Already i’ve heard the firm being referred to as ‘the new Foxtons’ and I didn’t get the impression it was meant as a compliment.

Lots of individual agents work hard (like D&G director Ed Mead, himself a Board member of The Property Ombudsman) striving to improve standards and the image of the profession. But when you irritate so many of your professional colleagues with a film that appears to support the public’s poor view of the industry the senior management at D&G who sanctioned this may regret their error. Many people will have forgiven them for the first film but the release of a second might be seen as a crass and foolish move.

There will no doubt be some kind of finale or closure in the next few days and the debate will continue long afterwards. If D&G have got it right then they can expect their business to prosper and the risk they have taken will have paid off. Some people however think that they have flushed a good name down the pan, done the wider agency community no favors and left their competitors with a wide open goal. Will people be left thinking that D&G poked fun at estate agency of will they be left thinking “Douglas & Gordon may think that this is how estate agents behave but we want someone who doesn’t.” If it’s the latter then D&G’s competitors will clean up.