News yesterday that MAC Marketing had one of its employees pose as a potential homeowner in media interviews has prompted an apology from owner and former Business in Vancouver Forty under 40 winner Cameron McNeill and accusations from bloggers that this is part of a wider trend.
MAC Marketing's manipulation of the media involved employee Amanda Lee along with another woman who said she was Amanda's sister Chris Lee. Together they told both CBC News and CTV News on the weekend that they were waiting for their wealthy parents from China to come to Vancouver for Chinese New Year and potentially buy them a condo during the stay.
A blogger who goes by the name @Village_Whisper exposed the manipulation and prompted McNeill to apologize Thursday.
"All I can say is that I deeply apologize for having misled the media for being there," McNeill told media.
"We were busy and I don't know if the girls were put up to it, or just put on the spot, or if it happened spontaneously. Regardless, it was wrong and I take full responsibility, on my own shoulders."
Such tactics seem to be part of a trend of real-estate marketers manipulating media perception to sell condos.
Business in Vancouver has learned that VancouverIsAwesome.com editor Bob Kronbauer is being paid by the in-receivership Village on False Creek, formerly the Olympic Village, to promote life in the village – even though nowhere on his website does it make it clear that he is being paid to do so.
And @Village_Whisper's blog points to a Global TV story in April 2012 where real-estate marketer The Key was launching what it called "Groupon for condos."
The Global TV story by reporter Michelle Miller featured a woman named Tara Fluet, who was listed as an investor in the program to group-buy condos. A woman by the same name has a LinkedIn profile that states that her job is as a sales manager at The Key.
"The public has a right to know the behind the scenes connections when these stories are presented as 'news,'" @Village_Whisper noted on the blog Whispers from the Edge of the Rainforest.
The Key owner Cam Good, who is also a former Business in Vancouver Forty under 40 winner, did not respond to Business in Vancouver's calls for an interview by press time.