This Vacant Apartment Exists to Sell You Stuff on Instagram

published Oct 5, 2018
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(Image credit: Lumina/Stocksy)

They did it for the ‘gram.

We’ve all snapped a photo or two of something pretty or unique knowing it would get lots of likes on social media. But a 2,400-square-foot penthouse apartment where nobody actually lives? That’s more than just a flattering filter.

In a now-viral story for the New York Times, a sprawling SoHo property that rents for $15,000 per month is furnished in millennial pink, with a roof deck and floor-to-ceiling wine fridge. But here’s the kicker: The property is rented out as a backdrop for Instagram influencers, who use it to cultivate slick photo shoots that promote the products they’re paid to push. Created by Village Marketing and furnished by Wayfair, the idea is clearly working, as the unit is booked by influencers through October.

“Spaces like this are gold for them, because then they’re able to have a place that’s a home to shoot lifestyle home moments in,” Vickie Segar, owner of Village Marketing, tells the Times. It’s a unique alternative, particularly for Instagram stars that live in urban environments and don’t have tons of extra space.

The decor serves as a veritable checklist for Instagram clichés. There’s a photograph wall filled with influencer photos, and even several messages of female empowerment, which the author refers to as “the ‘rah-rah-Instagram-slash-feminist-wall.” Then there’s a spa-style soaking bathtub, perfect for influencers who market beauty products to the masses.

“Social media users… like the apartment because it allows for images that have style, without the off-putting slickness of traditional advertising,” the story reads. And while that’s true, let’s keep this in mind: It’s not their home, and these moments they’re creating are meant to sell us products without feeling like traditional advertisements.

“Listen, does Instagram create false reality? Yes, 1,000 percent,” HBFIT founder Hannah Bronfman told the NYT. “But having a place like this, for me, is not about pretending your life looks like something else. It’s about having a space you need to get your work done.”

Some might see the “Instagrammable” penthouse as just another way that the social media network promotes just showing curated parts of life, rather than reality, to some negative effects. For instance, last year, a study by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that Instagram has the greatest negative effect on young people’s mental health.

There’s also the fact that the venue’s purpose is to serve as a platform for people to sell us things, without looking like it. How often have you seen an influencer post about their “favorite new skin product” or “best new brand of yogurt” only to hold your finger down on the photo to see that they’ve carefully tagged each brand, one on top of the other, so we don’t recognize that they’re pushing products on us?

We’ve reached out to Village Marketing for additional comment, and will update this story when we hear back.