The Mad Men of Miami Real Estate
Together, an industry-leading development executive and creative branding visionary are elevating Miami’s approach to real estate marketing.
Horacio LeDon and William Richmond-Watson at Miami Beach’s Shore Club, which is being marketed by LeDon’s Douglas Elliman and Richmond-Watson’s Watson & Company. The iconic hotel was repositioned as a condo-hotel late last year, with a sales launch during Art Basel.
Taking cues from other luxury markets, Horacio LeDon, president of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing for Florida and California, and William Richmond-Watson, founder and creative director at his firm, Watson & Company, discuss how a global positioning perspective is disrupting the real estate marketing experience in Miami.
Horacio LeDon: The buyers changed the landscape by finally being different from what they have been for the last 30 years, which has been historically South American. The projects we’re doing bring a sensibility that New Yorkers and Europeans have an affinity toward. That has been able to decouple us from the market from a pricing perspective. But the buyer is pretty smart, so he’s not just falling for the fact that [a project is] on the beach [or for] a campaign or a positioning that’s blasé. If you’re going to decouple, you have to actually bring justification to the table.
William Richmond-Watson: Buyers have also become a lot more sophisticated just because there’s a lot of inventory on the market. As a result, you’re having to speak to them in a much more sophisticated way.
HL: We connected on what direction Miami was headed. Everyone has a star architect, everyone has an interior design worthy of mention, but the branding is what really brings it to life. We’ve seen it across fashion categories for many years, and we’ve seen it in the hospitality space and in all the different luxury sectors, [but] it has eluded real estate.
WRW: What’s unique about our approach is that we come from a place of de-cultured art—fashion, art, fine art, contemporary art—and bringing that sophisticated sensibility to real estate branding hasn’t really been done before. There’s so much competition, you have to do something very interesting and very disruptive to get noticed.
HL: ...while at the same time staying true to what you’re trying to say. How do you come out with something that elevates your project above the crowd but still stays true to the luxury sphere that you’re in? It’s not easy. It’s probably the most challenging part of launching a building. [With the Shore Club,] we have a historic property, situated better than any other property on the beach. You have a lot of legacy goodwill that’s been achieved, but at the same time, it’s a design that hasn’t been refreshed in 12 years. Its programming hasn’t necessarily been in step with what’s new and exciting, so for us, it was trying to completely reimagine its whole existence.
WRW: I’ve been staying [at the Shore Club] for years. It has a great, great legacy, but there’s a perception that it’s slightly dusty and lost its charm. During Art Basel, we had this amazing audience down here to tip the needle on what the perception of the Shore Club actually is. Before we’d even done traditional rebranding—what does the logo look like, how do we speak to that audience—we started to reprogram the spaces themselves. From the street level, we brought in Paddle8 to do a digital interactive exhibition in the lobby. Cutting-edge [and] forward-thinking, they bring a really amazing crowd of very intelligent early adopters. The programming is incredibly important, and that’s an advance in a way that real estate is branded.
HL: We’re not in the Miami market; we’re in the New York market in Miami. Basically, we are in the world market.
WRW: We understand the challenges of a particular project and then overcome them in fresh and interesting ways. It’s very important that each one has an intelligence to it. Douglas Elliman Development, 4400 Biscayne Blvd., 10th Fl., Miami, 305-695-6292. Watson & Company, 99 Canal St., Sixth Fl., NYC, 212-243-0909
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