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ALAN'S ANGST: Say no to agency puff

As part of our new e-newsletter series about agency angst, Alan Howick, director of Harlow-based Howick & Brooker, explains why agency jargon makes a mockery of the profession.

I really enjoy original marketing and advertising campaigns with some degree of style. There is a misconception that the bigger your marketing budget, the better the results, but even with limited resources and imagination agents can achieve impressive results within their campaigns. If only there were more examples proving this about which to shout, particularly when it comes to local newspaper advertising. 


Week after week, an endless list of tiny, terribly-shot pictures, accompanied by dreadful copy, appear in my local paper. One particular advert run by one of my local agency friends some time ago springs to mind. It was a double-page spread splattered with what seemed like every house in the county, to the point that I got a headache just looking at the rainbow of colour, and that was before getting to the substandard copy. 


I counted 20 houses on offer on one page – yes, I have these sad moments from time to time - and 12 introduced them with the nauseating line: ‘We are privileged to offer’.  Another six properties were temptingly described as ‘truly excellent’, and so it went on.

If I was the owner of one of the other two houses, I would feel more than a little disappointed that my agent didn’t feel privileged to help me or, worse, that my house must be a dump if it's not being described as excellent.  

Our wonderful English language is being spoilt on such cretins, who insist on such ridiculous hyperboles to over-egg their adverts in the hope of enticing prospective buyers. As an aside, I do wonder why newspapers don’t intervene in the copy and save agents from looking like complete idiots. 


Agents' over-reliance on hyperbole requires a rethink. Rather than defaulting to the over-use of adjectives like ‘superb, nice, truly, privileged and outstanding, we should be stating the obvious – as in the property type, the number of bedrooms and the price. At the end of the day, that’s really all buyers want to know, or maybe I’m still missing something after forty years in the business.

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