In a strange twist of irony, more and more millennial home buyers are now inquiring about House Hippos to both sellers and home inspectors when looking to purchase their first property. In some cases, they’re even mentioning in their conditions for buying a home that the property must be free of the fictional creatures as well as other pests. A phenomenon that has many real estate professionals baffled.
It seems as though a PSA television advertisement from Concerned Children’s Advertisers in 1999 has ironically backfired eighteen years later in its attempt to teach children not to believe everything they see on TV. The commercial has evidently left a lasting impression on viewers almost two decades later. This phenomenon is really only coming to light now, as that generation is coming to the age of home ownership. Despite not being real in any way, some millennial home buyers are perceiving house hippos as a legitimate pest, such as mice or bed bugs.
For those unfamiliar, the television ad depicted “The North American House Hippo” as a tiny hippopotamus which dwelled in Canadian households, feeding on chips, raisins and bits of peanut butter on toast, as well as making their nests in the back of bedroom closets, using bits of string.
“I really had no idea,” said first time buyer Cody Fraser, 25. “The sellers of the home literally had to sit me down and show me the ad again to prove that house hippos aren’t real; it was a bit embarrassing. I guess I never really paid attention to the end of the ad,” he added.
Although the evidence is somewhat anecdotal, there have been multiple reports of first time home buyers mentioning the fictional creature to home inspectors, sellers, and real estate agents alike.
“I was very taken aback when a client mentioned a house hippo to me…I thought it was a joke at first,” said Andreea Campobasso from PG Direct Realty. “Millennials are often stereotyped to have short attention spans, and I fear this won’t help change that mindset. I’ve heard of many first time buyers mentioning house hippos, and it makes me concerned for the future – what’s next..the tooth fairy?”
Some reports of the dupped first time buyers are obviously drawing ire and ridicule on social media, perhaps scaring others from admitting that, they too, were house hippos believers.
This phenomenon really underscores the problem the ad was originally trying to address, that today’s youth (and the youth of 1999) are too easily swayed by advertising and false claims. All despite the fact that the ad explicitly stated that house hippos aren’t real, showing just how easy it is to manipulate public belief.
There has been a lot of discussion lately surrounding how gullible the general public seems to be when consuming content that they read on the internet. It has now become very difficult to tell the difference between honest reporting and a simple April fools article. However, like the original ad says, “that’s why it’s good to think about what you’re watching on TV (and reading on the internet) and ask questions” – hopefully like you just did.
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Chris is an editor and writer for Welcome Mat. He is based out of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.