This first video below is a ‘behind the scenes’ look published by Made, Clayton Homes’ ad agency/marketing firm. At the time this article is being drafted, it’s had 411 views. Frankly and for fairness, much of the generic content or claims that their video portrays we’d editorially agree with.
We strive to apply the ‘Wheat and Chaff’ principle even-handedly. Their behind the scenes look reveals some interesting points for the general public. Check it out.
That said, as millions of mobile YouTube users know, after a video finishes, you may automatically go onto another video. That’s what happened after we watched Made’s ‘behind the scenes’ of Prefabulous flick on a mobile view. The next video automatically up on YouTube was on tiny house living, and that one’s had 2.1 million views.
Compare that viewership of Made’s production and the Tiny House phenomenon. Ouch. That speaks to the challenges faced by not only Clayton Homes, but also the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), and the industry that they dually strive to “lead.”
MH Facts, Not MH Fawning
Business professionals and investors work on facts, not hype. When Clayton rolled out their video, the Daily Business News on MHProNews decided to wait until now to do a report. Others in mainstream or trade media were and are fawning. Builder was but one example of pro-Clayton cheerleading.
Now several weeks into the Clayton/Made Prefabulous campaign, it’s had 3,172 views on YouTube. Compare the Tiny House Living video views to the ones that Clayton Homes uses for their TV spots. Consider that Clayton’s had free digital ink. They’ve been doing paid marketing. Are you yawning yet at their results compared to other videos we’ve reviewed recently on MHProNews?
Those are the facts. That’s the Clayton, MHI, and industry reality check.
Those facts beg several questions.
1) Does the Made agency and Clayton Homes know what they are doing?
2) If so, why are the views/results of Clayton Homes ads so relatively low?
3) Does Clayton and Made want to posture performance or achieve it?
4) How has MHI’s own video claims of millions of reads and views of their marketing and image efforts reveal anything different than what Clayton’s data reflects on YouTube?
Before you or we jump to any conclusions, more facts are useful.
A) Other noteworthy industries are outperforming manufactured homes. One relevant example is that RVs trailed Manufactured Homes (MH) by some 3 to 2 in 1998. That was the year that manufactured housing (MH) hit its last peak. 20 years later, RVs lead MH by about 5 to 1. Their GoRVing campaign has helped make the RV LifeStyle appealing to millions. Meanwhile, manufactured homes trails not only RVs, but also multifamily or conventional housing starts. [Note: something like GoRVing is not what MHProNews is or has advocated. Rather, we believe in local campaigns, not a national one, plus education, and media engagement.]
B) Rephrased, the HUD Code Manufactured Homes industry drift has occurred largely in the Berkshire Hathaway era of Clayton Homes. 15 of those 20 years – 75 percent – are since Omaha based Berkshire bought Clayton and invested billions annually, including in several other brands in MHVille.
C) Tiny Houses are ‘getting the love’ from mainstream media and sizable parts of the public – meanwhile, manufactured homes are getting shrugs. Clayton’s Made response is in part an attempt to change the nomenclature to ‘prefabulous’ – as if that will work? Why didn’t they mention that author Sheri Koones coined that phrase? The views on YouTube tells the public reaction tale. Our contacts at Clayton have not yet reported waves of new customers to their retail centers, but time will tell.
D) Clayton’s own website ironically highlights their own prior projects that failed to gain market traction. Why does any serious and objective industry professional or investor think that the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) should be following Clayton’s lead? Isn’t it money flow and the structure of the executive committee and trade group’s membership that causes MHI to follow Clayton’s “leadership?”
E) Housing sales are well north of a trillion dollars a year, yet in 2018, manufactured housing sold less than an estimated $8 billion in total retail sales. That’s an opportunity in disguise. The industry’s potential upside is tremendous.
F) There are a clear set of lessons for those with logic or common sense. Among them is the lesson that 21st President and CEO Tim Williams showed the industry via a report published on MHProNews earlier this week. See that fact-packed, eye-opening report by clicking the linked text-image box below.
The lesson learned from Williams and years of experience is that the manufactured home industry has to – must – address every misleading report that comes out in the mainstream media.
One-time firebrand, Frank Rolfe, has said as much, before he went silent for allegedly industry political reasons. A top level source at 21st told us that they “work with those guys” and that they would “speak to them.” After they spoke, Rolfe went dark on his public critiques of MHI. Coincidence? Whatever, but Rolfe’s words still stand as a reminder.
Tim Williams – while MHI Chairman – likewise made the case, as he said below.
Years before either of them said the above, our MHProNews publisher, L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, made the case for ‘engaging the media’ live and in person to MHI members years ago, at an MHI Congress and Expo. Tony Kovach was praised by attendees and MHI VP Ann Parman.
But nothing happened. Why not?
Based upon experience, MHI and Clayton and their sister lenders will more likely protect Clayton’s name than they will that of the industry at large. Why is that so?
Low production levels and industry shrinkage have led the industry into increased consolidation.
Posturing effort is what Mark Weiss, President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) aptly called the Illusion of Motion.
One MHI Meeting rolls into another meeting. Those meetings may be pleasant and at times fun. Sources say that MHI has made it easier for some state executives or others to attend them. Those MHI meetings are a profit center for the Arlington, VA based trade group, as their own 990s and MHProNews has previous reveled.
Put differently, there is plenty of “Action” – plenty of what looks like “Motion” without significant results. Where is their proven plan? Is it incompetence? Or intentional? Either way, why are MHI’s paid staff getting bonuses for such low results?
It’s becoming increasingly clear that whatever motivation one cares to ascribe to Clayton and MHI, the measurable results are slow growth, and more industry consolidation.
Those are the realities and related challenges. The solution lies ahead. Stay tuned.
What’s increasingly clear is that the solution for the MH industry independents isn’t coming from the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis. See the report on the Mobile Home Militia, linked below.
They are industry professionals that currently hail from primarily south-central or southern states. They may hunt, fish, go to the honky-tonk, or go four wheeling in the mud for fun. They’re routinely patriots – people of faith, flag, and family, who love the constitution and their second amendment protected guns.
There are a range of allegations and claims from sources inside and outside of MHI and Clayton. There is a track record to follow. See what MHI’s President and CEO, Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison said in the video in the hot-linked text-image box below.
Based upon what is known, as outlined herein and linked further below the bylines and notices is this emerging pattern.
Whatever the causes, the byproduct of the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis are arguably resulting in a squeeze of independents and further consolidation of the industry. There are exceptions, but consolations mostly by larger MHI members are the apparent rule. After numerous offers to Knoxville, Arlington and their attorneys to publicly discuss these claims and concerns, there is only silence or distractions.
We respect their fifth amendment right to remain silent. We respect as well the rights of others to speak up, via the link below.
See the related reports immediately and further below the by line, notices, and offers.
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HUD Code Manufactured Home Production Decline Persists – Time For Action Not Excuses | Manufactured Housing Association Regulatory Reform
Washington, D.C., February 4, 2019 – The Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) reports that according to official statistics compiled on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), HUD Code manufactured home production declined again in December 2018.