diamond geezer

 Friday, January 06, 2023

It must be tough working for the marketing department of a brand new housing development. You have to persuade would-be buyers that your stackyflats are somehow better than everyone else's stackyflats, and you generally do this by making your neighbourhood sound like the perfect place to live even if it's currently a massive building site. Coming up with positive phrases and upbeat slogans is all part of the job.

Sometimes the marketing department construct words so bland they could apply to anywhere. Sometimes they push the envelope with a series of questionably dubious exaggerations. But sometimes they throw all morals to the wind and downright lie, just to get your attention, and when the revolution comes these people should be first up against the wall.

Take this bolx at Canada Water, for example.

In no sense is Canada Water "London's best kept secret". It's been on the tube map since 1999 so not only have millions of people heard of it, millions of people have been there. If you look on Google maps, there it is. It may be that the comprehensive redevelopment of the surrounding area is off the radar for most London residents but that doesn't make it a secret, indeed the planning process requires all this knowledge to be publically available.

What's more, Canada Water is not "hiding in plain sight". If you walk out of the tube station the lake is clearly visible. If you read the name emblazoned across the library it's plain that Canada Water is where you are. And whilst many of those who use Surrey Quays shopping centre may be oblivious to the fact it's about to be demolished, they can't have missed the apartment blocks newly rising across the car park.

Best kept secrets do not hide in plain sight, they have no physical manifestation hence their ability to remain hidden. What's more London's "best kept secret" must be one known only by a single person, potentially nobody at all, whereas this supposed secret is being promoted with a garish poster campaign. Best kept secrets hiding in plain sight are usually the preserve of the devious clickbait merchants at MyLondon, so don't be jumping on their perverted bandwagon.

It continues.

The 53 acre development site is almost entirely surrounded by roads and flats, not "nature and water". Arguably everywhere is surrounded by nature if you count worms and pigeons, and arguably everywhere is surrounded by water if you count Britain as an island, but in local terms this is a ridiculous claim.

As for "connected to everywhere in minutes", that's an even worse misrepresentation. It's meant to be cleverly vague suggesting quick changes to multiple destinations, but what they've actually written has over-reached itself. Admittedly any journey can be measured in minutes if you leave the stopwatch running long enough, indeed even Australia is "minutes away" if you let the total reach four figures, but lazy copywriting is no excuse for meaningless bolx.

It continues.

The UK's "most sustainable town centre" is not going to be a development site in Southwark. There's nothing sustainable about knocking down a shopping centre, a restaurant cluster and a printworks, let alone replacing them with umpteen concrete towers of supposed "net zero homes". An already-built town centre like Bath or Doncaster is going to be a lot more sustainable than Canada Water no matter how many green policies this construction company claims to follow.

What's galling is that the copywriters didn't need to exaggerate, it was a deliberate decision. They could just have called Canada Water "a sustainable town centre", or even "one of the UK's most sustainable town centres" but no, they went all out and claimed top spot for themselves because that's what greedy cheaters do. People who claim their projects are the ultimate without any evidence whatsoever should be up against the wall even before the revolution comes.

They're almost as bad downriver at Barking Riverside.

These are the upbeat words posted on hoardings outside the station, a echoingly empty landscape that still reeks of estuarine desolation. And yet the opening words are so bland they could apply to almost anywhere. Every newbuild is designed with purpose, every community is powered by people and all infrastructure is designed to empower else it wouldn't be built.

It's almost as if the marketing team looked at the challenge of making Barking Riverside sound attractive, realised they were on a losing wicket and plumped for something utterly generic. How they must have backslapped when they came up with the alliterative idea of "somewhere to be, become and belong", but you don't move out here to be among people, you move here to cut yourself off from the rest of London.

They're overexaggerating too. It's obviously not the case that "everyone lives with a deep sense of purpose, pride and possibility", no such utopia exists. "Overlooking the River Thames" is pushing it too because the river is entirely invisible unless you walk down a single footpath to the shore, or unless you've bought a hutch with a view on one of the upper floors. And as for "vibrant neighbourhood", sheesh, they go into even greater detail about that alongside.

Whatever Barking Riverside might be it is not "vibrant". It might be one day but for now it's just two disparate clumps of newbuilds on a desolate brownfield site close to lines of fizzing pylons. One end has a supermarket and a chemist, the other a coffee shop masquerading as a wildlife centre and a small Co-Op in a prefab. The promised art exhibitions, markets and live music aren't regular delights, they're occasional events co-ordinated by the developers to try to create the illusion of underlying culture.

There are many reasons for moving to Barking Riverside, most related to affordability and hardly any relating to delights on the doorstep, indeed even my Dad's Norfolk village has a livelier social life than this fledgling community. If you want evening entertainment you'll be catching the train somewhere else or making it yourselves. Don't be influenced by the "vibrant" guff these sloganeers are churning out, look around you at the sparse amenities of Barking Riverside and trust the evidence of your own eyes.

It must be tough working for the marketing department of a brand new housing development with hundreds of units to sell. But that's no excuse for writing stuff that isn't true... or worse, is deliberately trying not to be. These people can and should do better, their words don't need to be this awful.

And if the best your copywriting team can come up with is that a building site is "a place like no other", maybe now's the time to hand in your collective resignation because you're wasting everyone's time.

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