Creepers Need Not Apply

In San Francisco I was approached by a gentleman with a rat tail who was distraught after releasing his 16 exotic birds due to an impending eviction. He proceeded to flip through a tattered folder full of stained-glass sketches, the prettiest one being that of a lion. When I boarded the bus, he began drinking from a coffee cup he found on one of the seats.

On a 13-hour bus ride from England to Paris, I sat next to a malodorous man with tufts of hair missing from his head who took it upon himself to give me an unsolicited leg massage.

In Dublin my friend and I were writing in our journals in St. Stephen’s Green when a 20-something guy—clad in head-to-toe denim—introduced himself. The meet-and-greet spun out of control and before we knew it, he bought us dinner at an Indian restaurant, read our palms and offered to get us matching Trinity College track suits.

I guess I’m what you would call a creeper magnet.

During my short but eventful 24 years on this planet, I’ve had more than my fair share of weird, offensive and downright bizarre encounters. Because I tend to attract these people, I expect such situations to occur when I’m out and about. But when it comes to renting an apartment, I’m just not in the mood.

Fortunately, residents at Sequoia Equities’ communities need not worry.

In the article “Don’t Get Chester’d” in the September issue of units, Marketing Director Lisa Trapp says such creepers—sleazy leasing consultants who make derogatory comments to women, answer the phone with an attitude and rent units that are filthy—are nothing like the employees at the Walnut Creek, Calif.-based apartment management company.

To bring the message home, the company recently launched a “Don’t Get Chester’d” campaign—a series of humorous videos in which a leasing consultant named Chester makes every textbook faux pas when dealing with residents and prospects. (He may or may not carry a portfolio of animal sketches).

Trapp says the character of Chester was created to expose common industry misconceptions to both Gen Y’ers—a group who has a limited experience with the rental process—and Baby Boomers—a group who likely has not rented an apartment for a long time.

Sequoia hired an actor to play Chester and recruited the rest of the talent from within. The four videos, each less than a minute and a half long, feature the fictitious leasing agent insulting residents at a community event, making sexist comments to a prospective female resident, refusing to help a resident with a maintenance request and giving a new resident the keys to a ransacked apartment. The videos have since been posted on YouTube and a vanity URL that directs users to a specific page on Sequoia’s corporate site.

For those of you who are interested in hiring your very own Chester, the man I met in San Francisco is most likely in need of work. I don’t know his cell phone number but he can be found at the bus stop outside of Golden Gate Park. If he’s not there, try the bird sanctuary.

For more on Sequoia Equities’ unique marketing campaigns, check out the September issue of units, which mails Sept. 9.

E-mail your most creative marketing ideas to lauren@naahq.org.