Design Army Reinvents the High-end Real Estate Ad With These Captivatingly Quirky Spots

The D.C. agency targets Thailand's young elite

The spots, directed by Dean Alexander, are connected thematically by the rabbit character from Asian folklore.
Design Army

A home is a reflection of the owner—a fact that seems especially true for the wealthy. So when targeting Thailand’s trendy upper class, agency Design Army moved away from shots of static homes and toward stories about the people that live in them.

The resulting unique, modern ads for real estate developer SC Asset move through three ultra-swanky homes in Bangkok’s fanciest districts.

“Real estate ads need to move beyond talk of ‘things’ like luxe amenities, high design and granite countertops—that’s expected of any luxury property today,” says Pum Lefebure, chief creative officer of Washington, D.C.-based Design Army. “To capture the new generation of wealth, you have to go bold and captivate with the experiential. Home, at its best, has a magical intangible that inspires us to dream. And it’s that captivating feeling that inspired this campaign.”

Set to both the original and modern covers of Frank Sinatra’s “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” these spots take the viewer on a tour through upscale apartments in a way that occasionally feels more like a music video than a real estate ad. Instead of placing the focus on high-quality surfaces or massive window bays, Design Army opts to let the viewer experience the elegance in the background.

The throughline between the three spots comes by way of a mysterious rabbit rooted in Asian folklore. While rabbits appears in many stories across the history of China, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand, the root of the “Moon Rabbit” lore comes from the Buddhist Jataka tales. The story says that on the day of a full moon, a monkey, an otter, a jackal and a rabbit vowed to practice charity.

When an old man asked them to spare some food, the other animals gathered what they could, but as the rabbit could only collect grass, he vowed to place himself on the fire instead. The old man revealed himself to be Śakra, the lord of Trāyastriṃśa Heaven, the second of the six Buddhist heavens. Impressed by the rabbit’s sacrifice, the fire went cold and Śakra placed the image of the rabbit on the moon.

That tale has inspired festivals across Asia, and director Dean Alexander tapped into the legend of the moon rabbit to provide continuity for the ad series and instill a sense of mysticism into the setting.

“I grew up in Bangkok, and whenever I go back, I see things anew,” Lefebure says. “For example, the swan boats are one of the most iconic sights in Lumpini Park, similar to Central Park. But they’re such an everyday sight that most people gloss over them. Yet, seeing the boats with fresh eyes, I loved them and wanted to call attention to this enviable park-location—so we created a fresh twist with the blow-up swan floats in the pool.

Modern takes on classic luxury aren’t new to Design Army. The company is best known for its visually stunning work for the Hong Kong Ballet. By taking the ballet out of the concert hall and onto a basketball court, among many other locales, the agency helped its client grab a new younger audience.

That same concept is in play in the SC Asset spots, which recognizes that the young and newly affluent are more concerned with how their home connects to their personal style, requiring marketing that blends both style and storytelling.

“These new, modern condos are in the heart of busy Bangkok, where the ultimate luxury is privacy,” Lefebure says. “It’s not like the Crazy Rich Asians movie, where wealth is loud, showy and on display. Studying the luxury sector for years, [I’ve learned] showing off wealth with overly Photoshopped pools and fancy-dressed high society doesn’t work. It lacks the emotional and gets lost in sea of the gazillion marble-floored, luxury condos. You have to tell a different story that speaks and connects to the experiential.”

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