I know that sodium borohydride doesn't work particularly well on resonance-stabilized carbonyl groups (i.e. esters) but what about this carbonyl in the center of the above picture? This appears to be somewhat resonance-stabilized ... why would sodium borohydride still work here? Sodium borohydride is a nucleophilic reagent. On the other hand the second resonance contributor I've drawn is pretty crappy; yes - it's part of an aromatic system - but it's also a carbocation. And the R' group is inductively donating (although I suspect this is a fairly minor point).
Or does it just work in the above synthesis but not with a yield comparable to something such as sodium borohydride and formaldehyde?