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Sold in 11 Minutes and 15 Seconds--on ebay!
What? I Just Listed This!
About the time it takes a husky (read: overweight) middle-aged man to walk a half mile, I had listed an item on ebay and sold it.
Even a seasoned ebay seller like myself can occasionally succumb to an awe-saturated moment.
What added a dash of wasabi to this extraordinary transaction was the fact that this customer was from Japan. Because of the nuances of the International Dateline, the buyer had made the purchase in his real time of today which, in fact, was equivalent to my tomorrow .
I know, I know...it's a concept that's difficult to wrap one's head around, but because I was already in the mental tripping mode of this most unusual sale, my mind shook off its owner's leash and ran off into the medulla meadows of oblivion.
My body, meanwhile, remained seated in my black computer chair, my eyes fixated on the laptop screen at the beautiful ad I'd just sold.
What I Like About the Ad
All things considered, the ad wasn't anything spectacular. It did, however, have a certain aesthetic appeal.
The source of this ad had been a weekly issue of Life that had been published in 1951.
Just the day before, I had carefully removed about a dozen or so vintage print ads from this periodical. After trimming the rough edges of each page that had been connected to the spine of the magazine, I had placed them in a pile with the intent of listing them at my earliest possible convenience.
Approximately half of the ads were listed in the morning. The rest were listed hours later, shortly after I'd eaten supper and thanked my wife for the great meal.
I had been attracted to the ad in question for several reasons. As I listed it, I mentally rolodexed the reasons why I'd chosen to resurrect it from the musty magazine. (Incidentally, my wife can't stand the smell of old paper. Me? I think it smells like money!)
- GREAT ART--The commercial illustrators of yesteryear were in exceptionally high demand by ad agencies. Long before the advent of computers and high tech graphic wizardry, beautiful hand-drawn ad art was a focal component of successful entrepreneurship. In this particular ad (see photo above), the eye is drawn to the lovely young woman. The commodity being promoted--in this case, a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes--is juxtaposed in close proximity. The angular placement of the pack of cigarettes parallels the plane of the young woman's attractive figure. Cigarettes jutting out from the pack point back towards the young woman. Psychologically, this graphic device of pairing beauty with commercial product is a simple yet very effective way of--forgive me the pun--hooking the viewer. The young woman may have caught a handful of fish, but the millions of adult (and even adolescent) ad viewers who smoked or were thinking of smoking were the proverbial catch of the day!
- CLEVER TEXT--BE HAPPY--GO LUCKY! is nothing short of brilliant. The obvious double entendre is an uplifting message. It suggests that successful people have an optimistic spin on life, and it subliminally seeds the idea that smoking Lucky Strike cigarettes is part and parcel of that successful, I'm on Top of the World! lifestyle.
- PERIOD AMBIENCE--This was post-World War II America, an era of our country's triumphant emergence as a global super power. Of equal significance was the concept that women--themselves abruptly drafted during the war into workforce roles traditionally relegated to their masculine counterparts--were no longer pigeonholed into the weaker sex persona. The combination of these factors are subtly and effectively presented in this magnificent ad.
- BATTLE OF THE SEXES--Admen of the fifties were at the forefront in promoting the sociological norms and mores of women as strong, capable, and powerful. Men returning from both war theaters may indeed have been taken aback and somewhat insecure about the seemingly sudden changes in female dynamics. Ad agencies, therefore, had the simultaneous responsibility and luxury of spearheading the nationalistic notion that strong women were complements to, not competitors of, men. The ad above, while humorously showing the young woman catching more fish than the fly fisherman, was more about emphasizing female efficacy than portraying unhealthy sexual conflicts. The ad promotes the idea that women do know their place--and it's neither in front of nor behind a man...it's right beside him!
What I Don't Like About the Ad
The Lucky Strike ad was remarkably clever and aesthetically appealing. It certainly elevated the premise that even in the midst of America's emergence as a super power and the heyday of the industrial, technological, and space age advances, simplicity (the homemade fishing pole) could still triumph over complexity (the fancy fly fishing gear).
Counter to that winning theme of simplicity, however, the admen--as an afterthought, perhaps--may have unwittingly second-guessed themselves and added the scenarios in the lower left and right quadrants of the ad. These inclusions make the ad conceptually overweight, not unlike the middle-aged man going for that half mile walk in paragraph one of this article, and add nothing of substance to an already effective ad. It may have been a winning factor if the ad creators had suggested that the viewers be on the lookout for similar Lucky Strike ads featuring the respective scenario characters--a man wearing a safari hat in one, and the military woman in the other. Bottom line, however, is that this was added fluff--socioeconomic pork , as it were.
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A Personal Record
In my twelve years of being an ebay seller, 11 minutes and 15 seconds is a personal record for the amount of time it took an item to be sold.
Personal records are just that...they don't necessarily mean anything at all to others, but they certainly can be meaningful in terms of motivating the individual to raise his or her particular game.
What it meant to me--in this instant case--was a reinforcement that I'm successfully trusting my gut instinct in selecting salable items. It was also a wonderful reminder of how tremendous scientific and technological advancements have actually shrunk the world, so to speak, making it possible for a Hawaiian man drinking coffee in Washington state, USA, to sell, within minutes, a vintage print ad to a 日本人男性 (Japanese man) sipping tea in Okaya, Nagano, Japan.
11 minutes, 15 seconds.
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