Today, someone can literally live in the clouds – above everyone else and across the skyline. It is made possible by the rise of condominiums not only in the city but all around the country. It is the reason for the continuous success of real estate business today. With the high demands of owning condominium units especially by young professionals and businessmen, it shows a promising future to the real estate business. That is why big corporations such as Ayala Land Incorporated, Mega world Corporation, Robinsons Land Corporation and SM Development Corporation engaged in this trend as well.
In other countries, condominiums – or condos for short – are for those families and/or individuals who want to have their own homes but couldn’t afford to buy a house and lot. Condominiums or apartments are cheaper in price but gives comfort as much as an own house could give. But in the Philippines, condominiums appeal to and cater the needs of the businessmen, professionals and even celebrities – the people who belong to the upper section of the social triangle. These people could afford houses and lots even in private subdivisions but still choose living in a condo. What could condos have? And what does it mean to live in a condo for all these upper class choose living in ‘units’ than in haciendas?
In 2012, SM Development Corporation or SMDC produced a commercial featuring one of the country’s sought-after celebrities – Anne Curtis. The commercial was aired on television, cinemas and had grown popularity in social media. It is so interesting to see how SMDC tried to attract investors now with the strong competition in the business.
It all started with Anne talking to the viewers, welcoming them and then invites them for a tour in her ‘home’. She started from the lobby, then the dining room, to the TV room, the pool and the study. After taking a tour, she went back to her room but this time not allowing the viewers to sneak in because, in her own words, “… And this is my private space… But not everyone’s allowed in here.”
The ad is entitled “The Five Star Life”. From the title itself, we’ll already get what it is about and probably, what it is selling – a posh, luxurious and grand life as to living in a five star hotel. The mention of five stars is also consistent in the ad. In every section titles, there appears the symbol of five golden stars. (I.e. The Grand Lobby… Five Stars!) . The use of stars also symbolizes how we desire these things. The things those are very high to reach, the things that are like the stars – the stars that are above us and remains to be above us. It could also be connected with Anne, the star, and as to how the viewers would want to have a life like hers, to experience everything she experiences, to find ourselves in her shoes. I think this ad’s goal is for the viewers to aspire living in a luxurious life… to be in Anne’s shoes… to live a life above the clouds.
She tours the viewers around her house as if she’s sharing with them her success, her dreams, her life. In the first five sections, she’s very open and very welcoming to the viewers, her visitors. But her ‘open’ door was shut in front of the viewers in the end, after being so hospitable at first. She nullified her act of kindness when she said “…not everyone’s allowed in here”. This line is very contradicting to the rest of the commercial. This line, proves how the producers, at first, tries to let everyone in in their condominiums but in truth, “not everyone’s allowed”. Not everyone could afford that life. Not everyone could buy a unit at SMDC and own a home because not everyone has the money. Owning an SMDC unit takes a lot of price. It is not the space you buy. It is the whole SMDC experience and not everyone deserves it.
According to Propp, there are different elements in a story. In this case, Anne’s story, at first look, doesn’t have these elements – a villain, a magical gift, the sought-for persons, etcetera. But if I were to put the ad’s elements into the elements a story has according to Propp, I would say that the hero is the audience, the villain is SMDC, and everyone else is Anne – the donor of magical gift, the helper, the sought-for person, the dispatcher who sends the hero in a journey and the false hero.
The hero, audience, is dispatched by Anne in a journey into her world. She appears to be helping the hero course through the journey. She tours them and happily introduces them to every place in it. Because of this, she is the sought-for person, the one they would want to be. The magical gift is the ad or the tour itself which Anne has given. It represents fantasy and euthanasia. But in the end, she is the dispatcher, closing her doors for the hero and sends them into the journey in the real world. In order for them to continue their journey in Anne’s world, they have to have money which they can use to buy an SMDC condo unit. The real journey is their search for money – money that through Anne, the false hero, would go directly to the real villains and that is SMDC.
I also want to acknowledge the style that the producers used in this ad. It shows how the audience has an intimate connection with Anne. With her looking straight to the camera, the audience would feel like there is no barrier between her and them – they’re like close, close friends. But if we come to think of it, it only gives the audience an illusion that Anne is just an inch away. That Anne is there talking to them, letting them dine with her and do other stuff with her. The ad gives the illusion of being with Anne and knowing everything she does in her home – a place where she can be just herself. When in fact, she is there at the top, not only owning the penthouse the condo she is endorsing but at the top of the pyramid. She is an elite and she lives in a luxurious way of life. Take the way she dresses for example. She depicts how posh the elite are – her jewelry, her red dress which symbolizes how powerful she is, how she can stand out against the crowd. Anne depicts the life of the upper class, a class that in reality she is a part of. She shows how they are able to dine in the best restaurants while other people don’t even have a meal to share; how they spend time soaking in their luxurious pools while other people soak in their sweats; how she escapes life through entertainment in cinemas while others face the burdens of life the moment they open their eyes. Basically, show how easy for the elite life is and how buying a condo in SM would change the way things are. How buying a condo in SM would turn our lives into theirs.
A point I also consider is how the ad used Anne (this also applies to ads that feature celebrities) as a commodity. Celebrities are being sold for what their ‘packaging’ is. Anne is chosen to be the endorser because she sells and she sells because she is ‘designed’ that way – maybe by her managers, her talent coordinators, even by herself. She is willing to be this celebrity Anne Curtis to sell, to be known to advertisers and sponsors, to earn money. Her being an all-in-one celebrity capable of reaching the lowest and highest in the social triangle favors Anne in terms of money.
In the end, it is just an ad. The ‘real’ goal is sell… to sell SMDC units. With our strong desire of being like Anne, of living just like her, we get fooled that the only way to have a life like Anne’s is by owning an SMDC property. We are fooled that SM also wants us to have that life, a luxurious life, a life we all deserve… away from all the burdens that the world brings. But the truth is, this is just an advertisement produced and by a big corporation wanting to earn money.
Ali Espina. (2012, September 7). SMDC TV Commercial with Anne Curtis. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT91YX2k4xc
Padillo, T. (n.d.). Retrieved September 7, 2014, from Housing Interactive: http://www.housinginteractive.com/global-realtor-blog/12-top-real-estate-developers-philippines-part-1/