MANILA — “Some people dream of luxury, while others live and breathe it.”
So opens Ivanka Trump’s pitch for Trump Tower Manila, a residential tower developed by Century City Development Corp., part of Century Properties, a Philippine firm whose chairman is President Rodrigo Duterte’s trade envoy to the United States.
The advertisement, which was live on a YouTube account called Century Properties International as of late May, features Ivanka Trump musing about the “magnificent” property, as well as shots of Donald Trump playing golf. (“Fitting your exclusive lifestyle to a tee,” Trump’s daughter deadpans.)
The spot closes with an endorsement from Donald Trump: “It’s going to be great,” he says.
The Trump Organization has said that it directed all overseas partners to stop using President Trump’s image and words in marketing materials — but that’s easier said than done.
Seven months after the election and more than four months since Inauguration Day, advertisements using the Trump family’s name and likeness are still turning up online and on site, showing how tough it is to separate Trump the developer from Trump the head of state.
At a Century Properties sales center in Manila, for instance, promotional materials that featured pictures of and a quote from Trump, as well as photographs of Ivanka Trump, now a senior White House adviser, were still on hand last month.
In response to a reporter’s request to tour Trump Tower, a Century Properties marketing representative sent an email dated May 15 with the subject line “Introducing Trump Tower Manila” that opened with a quote from the president: “I know that this project will be second to none.”
Until recently, the official Trump Tower Manila website featured endorsements from Donald Trump, who, in a video, said the project was “something very special.” After The Washington Post asked Century Properties about it last month, the spot was no longer accessible.
Asked about the promotional materials, seen during a May 9 visit, and the May 15 email, an official with the Trump Organization said the former was produced in 2012 and has since been discontinued for use. The official did not respond to a follow-up query about the email.
Kris Cole, a spokeswoman for Century, said the company “decided on its own initiative to stop active marketing of the project in 2015.”
“The Century sales agent breached company policy by providing a discontinued brochure in order to accommodate The Post’s request to see one,” Cole said. “Use of the old brochure has been discontinued, but the company had not yet finished collecting all copies.”
The “Century Properties International” YouTube account was “not an official Century account but presumably created by a sales agent,” Cole said. “While Century instructed its agents to remove any old materials posted online, this process takes time.”
In the months since Trump’s election, ethics and legal experts have expressed concern that the Trump family’s private business interests and their public policymaking roles continue to overlap, creating the potential for conflicts of interest.
These concerns resurfaced in late April when Trump spoke on the phone with Duterte for a second time, inviting him to visit the White House and reportedly praising the Philippine president’s self-proclaimed “war” on drugs, a campaign that is linked to thousands of extrajudicial killings.
The White House declined to comment. A representative for Trump’s Philippine partners, Century, denied there is a conflict. When Duterte appointed Century’s chairman to the trade post, she said, it was in late October 2016 and it was to a “nongovernmental, unpaid, non-policymaking role that does not involve itself in foreign policy or relations between the two governments.”
Trump’s family business does not own or invest in Trump Tower Manila, but it makes money from a long-term licensing agreement. According to Trump’s financial disclosures, between 2014 and mid-2016 he received between $1 million and $6 million in payments from the project.
While questions about potential conflicts have hurt Trump at home, where his government is under ever-closer scrutiny, in the Philippines, ties to the Trump brand appear to be a selling point — at least so far.
Even if all advertisements and endorsements were pulled from circulation, it would be hard to separate Trump Tower Manila from the Trump brand.
The tower’s decor, for instance, is a riff on the Trump family’s New York roots. Those looking to snap up one of the last units, a three-bedroom on the 25th floor, would be buying an apartment with a “Park Avenue” theme. There’s also “Soho” and “Fifth Avenue.”
Promotional materials for the project have emphasized the luxurious and exclusive nature of the Trump brand.
“The choice of residence must be sophisticated, magnificent and exude luxury in every aspect,” Ivanka Trump says in the YouTube video.
The Trump Tower promotional materials seen May 9 included pictures of Ivanka Trump next to tag lines such as “Live Exquisitely” and “Live Elegantly.”
“Celebrate your exclusive living space with sweeping city views,” one page reads. “Trump Tower Manila — you have arrived.”
Kai Engelhardt, a German businessman who lives in Manila, bought an apartment in the tower in 2012 because, he said, he saw potential in Manila’s real estate market and security in the Trump brand.
Five years later, with Trump in the White House, he feels confident it was a good business decision — but wants to sell.
With the project nearly complete and the building’s namesake mired in scandal, Engelhardt sees the upside getting smaller and the potential downside growing. His family also has concerns about being associated with the Trump name.
“My wife encourages me to sell because she wants nothing to do with this guy,” he said.
“Sometimes I sympathize with her.”
Kimberly dela Cruz contributed to this report.