Over the course of my advertising career I’ve shot too many commercials and print ads to count, many for major clients with huge budgets — sometimes with big celebrities in exotic locations.
But without a doubt, the most important and highly successful piece of advertising I ever created was two-inches wide by one half-inch deep, and just text.
Twenty-nine years ago, having survived a number of dysfunctional relationships with women I worked with, I resolved to take a different approach to meeting a mate.
I wasn’t the bar-going type and the Internet hadn’t yet become available, so I tried a popular tactic at the time: a personal ad in New York magazine.
Can’t Find Her – Adman, 27, Jewish, handsome, creative. Looking for slim, pretty girl, 22-28, to share life, love, laughs. Photo/note.
Yes, I know that by today’s standards, my copy was sexist, body-shaming, and embarrassingly hyperbolic in its description of my own appearance.
But boy, did it work. Less than a week after it ran, I received a large envelope from the publication, packed with exactly 30 responses.
Granted, a few were literally form letters from ladies looking to leave the USSR. And a couple were from actress-types with professional headshots that probably hoped an ad guy could help their aspiring careers. (I’ve since looked them up on IMDB and found that one has done quite well for herself, without me.)
The majority seemed like they were very nice, but only one truly spoke to me, right from the salutation.
Dear Ad Man,
Meet Ad Woman! I am a network television buyer for a great agency downtown and I love my job there. (I hope we don’t work at the same agency.)
Her note told me she was intelligent, kind, humble, and quite funny. The Xeroxed photo stapled to it told me she was adorable.
Hers was the only note to which I responded. (I did keep all the others just in case!)
I called, and we met over sushi. Within a month, Julie moved in with me. A year later, we were married. 28 years ago today, to be exact.
We’ve had all the usual highs and lows that come with a good marriage. And we’ve raised three amazing daughters, now 20, 22 and 24 who make us proud every day.
Julie is the love of my life and my best friend.
And she became part of my life thanks to a tiny all-type ad.