Lettings company apologises over St Albans marketing campaign
PUBLISHED: 12:34 30 April 2012 | UPDATED: 14:51 30 April 2012
A CHEEKY guerilla marketing campaign that nearly backfired in St Albans when the police were asked to investigate has resulted in an apology from the instigator who insists it was “just a joke”.
The bullish promotion recently became the talk of town as people discussed the possible origin of mysterious black signs bearing a picture of a bull that suddenly appeared throughout the city.
The stealth marketing campaign quickly gained notoriety on the likes of Twitter as people questioned the stunt, particularly as it involved using advertising signs local letting agents had already paid for, on private property, as tools for advertising a new agency.
It coincided with the start of a website advertising Bull Lettings, which initially gave no further clues, stating merely: “coming soon … no bull, just lettings.”
Annoyed letting agents had to either pay their signage supplier to clear the advertising, or remove it themselves.
Some, such as Abbey Estates, did not take the advertising too seriously but others complained to Herts Police, which said details had been forwarded to Herts Trading Standards.
Ilona Bull, of Harpenden, has since admitted to being behind the campaign. She explained that she had been letting residential property in both St Albans and Harpenden during the past five years but had decided to set up an independent residential lettings and property management company.
Ilona confirmed that 95 boards owned by other agents were covered but the signs had been swiftly taken down when Bull Lettings was contacted by an unamused St Albans district council which demanded the black plastic coverings be removed immediately.
In a tongue-in-cheek press release, she apologised to “unamoosed” letting agents after “behaving like a bull in a china shop”.
She said Bull Lettings, which is to officially launch in early May, would “meat any reasonabull charges incurred by those agents” whose boards were temporarily “rebranded”.
Ilona went on: “We are getting a lot of interesting reaction – some said it’s a brilliant idea. I do have a sense of humour. I’m a happy, cheerful person whose passion is for letting houses. I feel that our marketing was something slightly different.”
Ilona said that her tactics were not too dissimilar to those used by some other agencies.
She explained: “There are some tricks that the industry uses, such as putting up boards on random fences, or putting advertising boards near other’s boards.”
However Ilona added: “We know we shouldn’t have done it, and we are sorry.”