The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has been critiqued a number of times by industry professionals for their demonstrably failed strategy to grow industry sales by using paid advertorials.
As but one barometer of the lack of sales being driven for manufactured housing (MH), while RVs have grown in shipment levels, MH has fallen far behind (see the linked report below for graphics, facts and details). Nevertheless, another MHI advertorial has been published recently, as MHI’s CEO Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison doubles down on the questionable strategy.
MHI promoted at membership renewal time last December the graphic below. It touted a claim that “83 million” have seen their ‘Statepoint’ Advertorials. Even if the claimed total views was true, which is highly uniquely, what industry shipments in 2017 revealed is that the paid placements of stories had no noticeable impact on industry home sales. That graphic, with some analysis, is posted below.
The latest MHI paid StatePoint advertorials often quote Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison by name.
The paid ads have hotlinks to MHI’s website. So, their ‘ad stories’ may drive some traffic to the MHI website, which Alexa reported has a high bounce rate.
But MHI’s having done this for a couple of years, even a glance at shipment statistics reveals there is no significant or proven ability to demonstrably drive more new home sales.
Which begs the question, why does MHI still bother? Who are they trying to impress? Members and potential members? In an era when the term ‘fake news’ has become commonplace, doesn’t MHI just play into that narrative, thereby undermining the industry’s credulity?
On the Record Industry Comment on Jennison’s Latest Advertorial
“We can all agree that manufactured housing should be performing better, as the country is in the throes of an affordable housing crisis,” said Mark Weiss, JD, President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR).
Weiss didn’t comment on the wisdom, or lack thereof, of using advertorials in the first place. Instead, Weiss focused on what Jennison did and didn’t say in the StatePoint item.
Weiss continued by saying that “Oddly missing from the comments of MHI’s president, however, are any mention of expanded access to consumer financing or enhanced federal preemption under the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000.”
Weiss points are telling. After all, if you are paying to say whatever you want, why not say something useful to advancing the industry’s broader interests?
“This [failure to mention preemption and financing] illustrates why a new independent national post-production association would be welcomed by MHARR,” concluded Weiss’ comments. Weiss and MHARR aren’t alone, as some states and communities have already broken ranks with MHI.
What Jennison’s Quotes Said
‘Quotes’ from Jennison were in the final paragraph of the StatePoint ad. They are in these two sentences. Beyond what Weiss said, why did the first line by Jennison seemingly demean “earlier generations of manufactured housing?”
- “Part of this bias may be based on the negative stereotype of earlier generations of manufactured housing, however, today, our homes are built with quality construction materials to meet rigorous federal standards for safety, installation and construction,” says Richard Jennison, president and CEO of MHI.
- “At a time when there is a great need for high-quality, affordable housing, today’s manufactured homes are an effective solution for many American families and communities,” says Jennison.
A look at Jennison’s LinkedIn page reveals his prior role was with a brick industry association.
Warren Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway owns Acme Brick. There’s been speculation as to what role, if any, that brick industry connection may have had in Jennison’s being considered and hired by MHI.
MH Marketer’s Analysis
First, among the versions of the story we found online was The Journal News, which blew up a provided photo so large, that it was pixelated. If they were counting on the image to help sell appeal, it would not be effective.
Next, that begs the question – didn’t MHI or StatePoint bother to check the photos and placements, to see if they looked good or were correctly published?
“Weak,” is what L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, award winning industry veteran, expert consultant, and publisher, said to sum the advertorial up.
“The narrative is weak from start to finish. Ask yourself, if you were in the market for a home, what in this advertorial would make you want to visit your local manufactured home retailer or land-lease community?”
“The narrative fails to answer the kinds of issues that keep consumers from buying a manufactured home in the first place. Next, it links up MHI’s website four times in 337 words. Virtually any journalist or serious researcher would spot this for what it is, a paid advertorial. When there are legitimate and positive news stories, why would MHI publish problematic stuff like this? Finally, one of those four links go to their quick facts document, which still has inaccurate information.”
The full text of the StatePoint MHI advertorial is below the definition shown. The hotlinks all pointed to MHI’s website, as was noted above, were at located at the blue text as shown. Those links were removed for this column.
At the end of this post are links to prior comments by other industry professionals that blasted this debatably flawed advertorial approach, and other related reports.
(StatePoint) With the cost of housing continuing to rise faster than wages, it’s no wonder that many Americans nationwide are struggling to make ends meet. Luckily, solutions already exist to address the affordable housing shortage, say experts.
For example, more than 22 million people in the U.S. now live in manufactured housing — homes built to a federal standard in factories and placed on a homeowner’s land or on rented lots in manufactured home communities, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). In many parts of the country, homes like these are the least expensive kind of housing available without a government subsidy. The cost to buy a manufactured home averages about $70,600, compared with $286,000 for a single-family site-built home, not including land costs.
In response to growing market demand, almost 93,000 new manufactured homes were built in the U.S. in 2017, an approximate 15 percent increase over 2016, according to MHI, but this is still not nearly enough to meet the nation’s affordable housing needs, according to experts. Advocates say that zoning restrictions and other rules and regulations in many areas are preventing manufactured housing from closing the gap — as certain jurisdictions only allow manufactured housing in locations far from town centers and other jurisdictions have considered banning them altogether.
“Part of this bias may be based on the negative stereotype of earlier generations of manufactured housing, however, today, our homes are built with quality construction materials to meet rigorous federal standards for safety, installation and construction,” says Richard Jennison, president and CEO of MHI.
What’s more, today’s manufactured housing includes features that today’s homebuyers want, such as luxury bathrooms, vaulted ceilings and state-of-the-art kitchens with energy-efficient appliances. Often situated in communities with swimming pools, playgrounds and clubhouses, they can be a very attractive option for families and retirees seeking affordability. To learn more visit, manufacturedhousing.org.
“At a time when there is a great need for high-quality, affordable housing, today’s manufactured homes are an effective solution for many American families and communities,” says Jennison. ##
Given the recent and positive reports about manufactured housing by the National Association of Realtors ®, Bloomberg, and Value Penguin and others, why did MHI go this problematic route? Is any reasonable answer to that question one that should build confidence in MHI? “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis and commentary.)
(Third party images, content are provided under fair use guidelines.)
1) To sign up in seconds for our MH Industry leading emailed news updates, click here.
2) To provide a News Tips and/or Commentary, click the link to the left. Please note if comments are on-or-off the record, thank you.
Community Owner/Manager View On Richard Jennison and the Manufactured Housing Institute StatePoint Advertorial
Problems with Quote from Richard Jennison, MHI’s CEO, StatePoint, Richard Jennison, Manufactured Housing Institute, misleading advertorials, legal risk, image,