Ready For The 'Hiroshima Split-Level'?

An image from the Abrazo website.


So, you’re looking for a new home in New Mexico. Something right outside Albuquerque, perhaps?

May I suggest the Harriet Tubman, with its "entertainers’ kitchen and bar top"?

Let’s go to the blurb: "Just like Harriet Tubman, the icon of American courage and freedom this home stands out amongst the crowd."

Or perhaps you’d like something a little smaller, but packed with light, like the Anne Frank?

As the listing puts it: "We have designed our Anne plan to maximize the view we feel would be suitable for Anne herself."

This is just the kind of roll-your-eyes story that sounds too outrageously dumb and tone-deaf to be true. But it is.

To liven up the descriptions for its newly constructed adobe-ranch-style offerings, a company called Abrazo Homes (abrazo means hug in Spanish) has been naming its model house layouts after famous women since the company’s founding 14 years ago.



It’s just that in doing so, they obviously had no idea who these historical figures were. They treated the names like any other female celebrity on Insta.

It took some clear-sighted social-media trolls who recently discovered the listings on Zillow to blow the lid on "the Harriet" and "the Anne" on social media, which led to TheNew York Times picking up the story.

According to the Abrazo website, the company is owned and founded by Brian McCarthy and Mackenzie Bishop, two local N.M guys "who went to the UNM business school."

Their site acknowledges that some might find the company culture "a little unorthodox, but we wouldn’t have it any other way."

Yeah, and it also shows the extreme need for better education in this country.

A marketing department is also listed on the site, which includes employees with cutesy titles like a "chaos coordinator" and "chief storyteller."

The stories told indeed made for some chaos to coordinate.

Obviously, these “creative” people were trying to go outside the proverbial box among the usual real-estate listings promoting very similar box-like structures in a tough market.

They saw these names as a marketing tool that would distinguish their offerings.

But their acute lack of awareness, insight and context is appalling. An obvious subliteracy about history led to social-media disgrace in this case. But it can also have far more dangerous outcomes.

The people who love and admire Harriet Tubman, an escaped enslaved conductor of the Underground Railroad, a hero with a bounty on her head, would never want to see her trivialized to name a kitchen bar top.

Ditto with taking the name of Anne Frank, forced at 15 from her family’s attic hiding place in Amsterdam to die of typhus in German death camp Bergen-Belsen.

Imagine the joy she would have felt had she lived to see this “open-plan” tract house named after her!

In a statement to the press, McCarthy, who has already amended the listings, said, “We recognize that the language used in the plan description is insufficient and understand how it might come across as insensitive and lacking awareness.”

And here he gets a bit self-pitying: 'It's unfortunate that this oversight has diminished our sincere efforts to pay homage to some of the most remarkable women in history.'

Inadvertently,the hugeresponse -- nearly 80,000 page views -- when the average is a couple of hundred -- did offer an an education on who these women were, for those who had no idea, and for better or worse, got the company into global newsfeeds.

But it also made them look like idiots.

I guess they should stick to naming floor plans after things they know about, like types of beer, which they have also done.

What’s clear from this story is that any business, even the tiniest ones, must be hyper-aware of every word in their marketing materials. These days, the Internet will find you. 

And the smart ones will hire professionals to do their marketing. Or as one social media wag put it, “And this is why you hire a normal person as a copywriter.”

1 comment about "Ready For The 'Hiroshima Split-Level'?".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. George Parker from Parker Consultants, January 22, 2024 at 9:58 a.m.

    What’s in a name, indeed. Reminds me of the time back in 2014 when JWT announced to the world that they were no longer an Ad Agency but were now "Cultural Anthropologists." They even hired someone to head up a department of neuroscience, consumer psychology and cultural anthropology. That lasted less than a couple of years, then they went back to being an ad agency. However, to prove that no one in advertising knows anything about anything. They then changed their name from J. Walter Thompson to JWT, then changed back to J. Walter Thompson a couple of years later. They should have called it "AdScam." It would still be around! Cheers/George

Next story loading loading..