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This article first appeared in the PB August 1999 issue of Pro Builder.
Animals added a mark of distinction to the advertising for Olympia Lofts in the Greektown area of Chicago.

Traffic skyrocketed when Joseph Freed Homes began running ads that used animals to illustrate features of the lofts. Banners on a street-facing side of the building also featured animals.

People came into the sales office smiling during the ad campaign, according to Len Koenig, director of sales and marketing for Freed. "Then we handed them animal cookies. They loved it. The whole effect was great. We wrote 90% of our contracts during this campaign."

Two other ad campaigns that used renderings produced only 12 sales in five months. When the animals showed up, buyers purchased 54 units in four months. Most were young single professionals.

Koenig told his advertising and public relations agency, Taylor Johnson Associates, Chicago, that he wanted something different to attract buyers to lofts that were priced from $120,000 to $275,000 for 800 to 1600 square feet. The ads, which used a hippopotamus (wider spaces), a giraffe (taller ceilings) and a lion (killer views) met that request. A turtle (on-floor storage) joined the group for an appearance on the street-side banners.

Deborah Johnson, president of Taylor Johnson, says, "We knew we had to compete in crowded real estate sections for a buyer who had many choices of lofts to visit. We had to do something to make the ads jump off the page. Because most of the other loft ads were touting views and showing pictures of skylines, we decided to illustrate the amenities in a completely unconventional way--with animals. Large amounts of white space made the animals pop out."

Koenig says using animals in advertising works in certain circumstances, but at other times the animal theme has fallen flat on its face. With a more unique product, he says, the company needs to show floor plans and other features.

--Dan McLeister

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