1. Economics
January 6, 2016

These cartoon people are advertising luxury apartments. So why do they look so depressed?

By Eleanor Ross

Take a walk along London’s South Bank, and you’ll find a new housing development at Blackfriars. The South Bank Tower is the sort of swanky apartment building marketed at those professionals who get hot under the collar at the phrase “starting as low as £1.5m”.

Marketing such high-flying apartments should be the easiest job in the world. Yet, it’s almost as though the marketing team has struggled to transform these swish, city-centre pads into aspirational dreams. All too often, the posters seem instead to promote isolation and sadness.

Here are a selection of them. Spoiler alert: wistfulness is a common theme. We’re guessing that’s because everyone on the posters is wistfully wishing they hadn’t spent all their money on the apartments.

The saddest picture by far, this man’s shadow is so looming that it has cast the entire room into darkness. I can’t work out what’s worse – that he has purchased so much furniture when he clearly he has no friends to use it, or that he, too, hates where he lives and can’t bear to even look at the place.

The most depressing motif? A single set of headphones in the centre of the coffee table to drown out the noise of all those guests he doesn’t have. The crazy angle-poise is a poignant necessity – switched on in the middle of the day to cast a beam of hope through the cruel darkness of his black, despairing shadow.

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A more subtle tone than the other misery-banners perhaps, but the aching loneliness depicted by this poster is enhanced by the artist’s solid use of blue, which everyone knows was coined by Van Gogh during his depressive “blue period”.

The bed is unslept in and obsessively neat – she is clearly alone, neurotic, and yearning for company as she wishes somebody would spot her glancing down from her lofty heights and ring her doorbell this winter.

Why the wistful gaze? Is she yearning for friends? Perhaps she accidentally glued her left hand to the window frame while trying to put up a picture and now she’s concerned she’ll die alone stuck to a wall. Or, perhaps, she too, is questioning why there’s an enlarged photograph of a tennis court behind her bed.

A ginger bearded faux-hipster leans against the window clutching a glass of wine, while a full bottle is readied on the counter. This man is a poster boy for anti-recklessness (unless you count spending his life’s savings on this apartment). He already has a single glass of water prepared for the impending hangover which he’s decanted into an actual water jug.

The poster raises many questions. Who decants water from the tap into a jug when there’s nobody else in the apartment? And how is he already on his second bottle of wine, when it’s clearly the middle of the day? How and why has got so wasted he needs to prop himself up against a pillar?

This advert leaves the viewer demanding answers. Only one thing is certain – that this is the life you could have, too, if you bought one of their apartments.

Granted, on first glance, she looks like she’s having a better time than the alcoholic hipster. Sure, she’s taking a bath in a tub that she can’t actually fit into, but that’s a #firstworldproblem.

I’m not sure what’s most disturbing about this picture. Is it that she’s wearing her dress in the bath? (Does she think this is how you wash your clothes?) Or is that a splurge of red where somebody has cleaved her arm off and left her in the tub to die like some horrifically crass Agatha Christie novel? You pay an arm and a leg for these apartments – maybe  if she’d severed her legs instead she’d be able to fit in the bath.

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