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Dalston Property Advert Sends Twitter into a Fury Over London Housing Rates

In Chinese, the word '危機', or 'wēijī', for 'crisis', can also mean 'opportunity', arguably. In English, crisis just means crisis, and at the moment in London, it's almost inextricably tethered to another word - 'housing'. The inflation of the housing market is a problem that's been spreading across most of the western world, but in cities as blighted by gentrification as London, it's far more intense.

Many of the working populous are haunted by it almost every day, as they see new, expensive property development projects sprouting up everywhere they go, and being advertised everywhere else. The majority of property development ads just dangle pristine, spacious houses and flats that you'd have to raid Fort Knox in order to rent for 6 months in front you, which is certainly upsetting, but otherwise forgettable. Now though, one particular ad, for a block of flats called 'Vibe', has tried a different tack, and invited the ire of the Twitterverse in the process.

You can see said ad above. To summarise though, it's an unnecessarily long, grotesquely over-saturated tour through upmarket London which bears virtually no relation to the area the flats are actually in (Dalston), aside from a few passing mentions of things which are nearby and one shot of Dalston Junction station so fleeting that it's almost as if the ad is embarrassed to include it. The words London and Dalston are built out of random, cobbled lettering like the wording on a ransom note, the music is atrocious and the whole thing is so airbrushed it plays out like it was made by aliens who learned everything they know about Earth from travel agency ads and episodes of Made in Chelsea. 

My favourite moment in the whole thing comes when the model who acts as a would-be protagonist for this almost-narrative goes to the Rio Cinema, one of the only things in the ad that's actually in Dalston and very unconvincingly pretends to tear up whilst watching Now, Voyager. The production quality and tone of the ad almost make it seem like it was made in the 90s, and Twitter have no hesitated to take the ad to task, but beyond just criticising the questionable production quality, it's opened up a far wider debate about upmarket housing development in the capital.

The reaction has been so intense that it's actually brought the Shadow Secretary of State Diane Abbott into play. Originally from East London herself, Abbott vehemently attacked the ad in the evening standard, stating that it completely misrepresented Dalston, selling it short and totally sidestepping its ethnic diversity. She also mentions that the ad is clearly aimed at foreign investors, rather than locals.

This isn't the first time that property developers have come under attack on Twitter for plugging their London-based projects. Last year one particular ad for Redrow Luxury Apartments, which at least purported to be aimed at buyers, was similarly eviscerated. More than that though, one person actually edited the audio out of the ad and replaced it with a voice over from the film American Psycho, which was meant as a biting exaggeration of the psychotic, dog-eat-dog materialism of 'yuppie' culture.

The backlash from this ad was so extreme that the company actually pulled it, and it's easy to see why even without the amended voiceover. Just to add insult to injury, this one was shot at the One Commercial Street tower in Aldgate East, which in 2014 joined the ranks of buildings with a 'poor door', an alternate entrance which less well to do tenants were forced to use, since many blocks have to include lower cost housing to get housing permission.

The Twitter community won't win many battles against trends like these by themselves, and wealthy investors won't be fussed about dealing with companies who have been criticised for their poor advertising, but public knowledge of this ongoing imbalance is spreading, and more people are speaking out against it.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Dalston Property Advert Sends Twitter into a Fury Over London Housing Rates Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 Rating: 5

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