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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Caught on video - THAT funeral march provoking a complaint to Sir Stelios

We've caught the apparent death of the high street estate agent on video - or at least that's what online estate agency easyProperty would like us all to believe.

As our video below shows, the agency has staged a three mile street 'funeral' procession through central London, complete with a horse-drawn hearse, a New Orleans-style band and 40 mock high street agents in caricature pin-striped suits, all led by chief executive Rob Ellice.

During the event the mock agents carried banners, many appearing to be in the liveries of established high street agencies, with slogans including 'Fat Fees', 'Sold Out' and 'RIP Big £££ Fees'.

The stunt captured the attention of overseas tourists and random onlookers as it made its way from one of Foxtons' central London offices to Piccadilly Circus. 

The mock agents jeered when they passed some of the 178 estate agency offices in Westminster, the borough deliberately chosen for the protest. Some genuine agents, including those from Knight Frank and Carter Jonas offices along the route, came out to see the event and 'jeered' back - all in reasonably good spirits.

The stunt went ahead despite heavy-duty criticism in online blogs and on social media from traditional agents and even from easyProperty's online rival, eMoov. 

The pretend funeral has now become the cause of a complaint to Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and the easyGroup board from Trevor Mealham, founder of the Independent Network of Estate Agents. 

In an email complaint to the board he describes the stunt as "totally distasteful".

A statement from easyProperty's PR firm says that with the majority of buyers (the firm calls them "consumers") starting searches for homes online, "age-old dodgy agents who charge ludicrous commissions will be wiped out in the next 10 years."

  • Chris Arnold

    And there was the moment that the public perception of estate agencies finally hit rock bottom!

  • Jon  Tarrey

    I don't know. It looks like people on the streets were enjoying it. And, as the article states, agents from Carter Jonas and Knight Frank took it in the spirit it was intended.

    I can't get on board with people who say this was tasteless or pushed things too far - it was quite clearly tongue-in-cheek, it was quite clearly taking the mickey. Some people need to get a sense of humour, for cry sake! The worst thing you could say about it was it was a shameless PR stunt by a company that might not have a huge deal to shout about, but to call if offensive just entirely misses the point.

    Looking at the video, I'm quite impressed with how much effort they put into it. Hiring all those actors and the horse-drawn hearse must have cost a fair bit, but it looks like they got a fair bit of publicity from it. Whether they can now turn that into actual results - which doesn't seem to have happened yet with the easyProperty brand - is a question that remains in some doubt.

  • icon

    very bad taste - what on earth were they thinking of?

    Fake Agent

    How exactly was it bad taste? I work in a traditional agency and I thought it was both funny and inventive. As far as PR stunts go, it was one of the better ones I've seen.

    Do you really think people who have recently attended a funeral are going to be offended by this? Really? It wasn't making light of funerals or death, it was making the point that traditional agents are dead. When someone dies, a funeral is held, so it makes perfect sense to do a procession march for what they were trying to achieve.

    People taking offence need to get off their high horse and see it for what is was: a joke. This is why traditional agents get a bad name at times - there is this impression that we take ourselves far too seriously and get very defensive against any criticism.

    The reaction from the public and the agent offices they passed was, by all accounts, fairly positive. They were even jeering back, according to the article. It was just a bit of fun, people looking for anything else clearly have an agenda to push.

     
    Fake Agent

    Plus, it was making the point that the traditional model as a whole was dead, not individual agents. The faux outrage from some people over this parade has been ridiculous!

     
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    oh get a sence of humor you drip. I work in a high street agency and thought it was funny. who cares? Can't we all just get back to hating OTM!

     
  • Daniel Roder

    Agreed, Jon. It's not like they were holding up burnt effigies or that there was even a very mournful atmosphere. There was orange everywhere and a band! People are just looking to take offence because of their dislike of online agents and, in particular, the easy brand.

  • icon

    Come on - it is distasteful! But yes it is just a press stunt - i can see that point of view. Who cares though? It hasn't had the desired effect - the only ooutlets to pick it up are trade press, whose audiences already know and dislike EP anyway.... This won't have pricked the consciousness of any members of the public.. and remember London isn't the only place in the country!

  • Robert Ulph

    I did laugh at this but thought it was in very poor taste. I also laughed at the fact that easyproperty charges £79 an hour for up to 8 viewings!!!! and £169 for a floor plan,photos and description. I wish I could charge anything for a viewing or taking a photo!!!. Working out all the extras we were still cheaper for a years tenancy by about £100 and saved even more if it was only 6 months as all the fees with easyproperty are broken down but still charged, most agents do it as one package and one fee. So am I worried "NO" on the lettings side I would not be concerned as there will be room for both traditional ARLA agents for Landlords who want a professional local agent and the on line agents for experienced Landlords who just want the property let without professional advice.

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