Joining up the dots - Lonely Hearts

By The Drum, Administrator

May 15, 2008 | 4 min read

Paul Carroll, Director Zuma011 goes over the Loney Hearts pages

I have a friend – you know how it goes – who likes to read lonely hearts columns. Well, he’s a bit desperate, but why scoff at someone just because he believes that there is someone perfect out there just waiting for him. If only he could find her.

Purely in the interests of research I decided to have a look at the dating classifieds myself, to see if I could have any better luck. After all, it can’t be more difficult than picking the winning horse in the Grand National, or selecting 3 x lottery numbers to win a tenner.

Except, once I’d started, I began to realise that I may have bitten off a bit more than I could chew. Not only were there pages of ‘soulmates’ in every newspaper, magazine and website I delved into; there were also lots of experts who offered to fix me (I mean my mate) up.

Spoilt for choice. Couldn’t miss. Except for deciding whether it’s better to respond to other’s ads, or run one’s own. Except for writing the ad, in 30 words, that says – really says - it all. That’s bloody hard actually–try it as soon as you’ve finished reading this article.

How to get it right? Be witty? “GSOH”. Be cosy? “Cuddly and home loving”. Romantic? “Sensitive, loving”. Cautious? “Looking for friendship and maybe more”. Cultured? “Likes music, cinema, theatre, literature”. Adventurous? “Into travel and off-piste skiing”. Whimsical? “One day my prince will come”. Wacky? “Lefty, non-conformist”. Or just be direct – “Sexy, fun loving, sassy, no-strings”.

And that’s before you weigh in with sex, age, religion, colour, height, weight, body shape, income, geography, children, financial bearing, status of home ownership and views on tobacco.

No wonder my mate’s still looking for a new girlfriend. Well, actually he’s not really looking for a new girlfriend. He’s actually a marketing director looking for a new agency, and he’s not only a bit disillusioned with the whole exercise, he’s beginning to think of staying with the old girlfriend, or maybe join a monastery.

prospective suitors

Perusing agency credentials, websites and brand positioning generally makes lonely hearts columns look decidedly sophisticated by comparison, which is somewhat odd for a sector which is supposed to be creative.

Blandness and platitudes rule. Most agencies want to be all things to all men, fearing that being themselves will put prospective suitors off. If pressed for what is really different about them, agencies have no qualms about trotting out banalities such as “creative’”, “successful”, “award winning”, “fastest growing”, “fun”, “strategic”, “dedicated”, “a people business” and best of all, “passionate”.

Do they think they’re going to score on every date with this sort of come – on? Sadly, they must do, or they wouldn’t persevere. No wonder new business is such a big part of any agency’s time, costs and anxiety levels.

But it needn’t be this way. Take a tip from lonely hearts – and the agencies - who’ve worked out how to pull. They’ve worked on their schtick and come with a winning formula. They know who they want to be in bed with, and don’t waste time on the needy types who’d like to be seen out with them.

They are very clear about what they aren’t as well as what they are. They have worked out how to be cool, top dog, buyers not sellers, focused on one or two things that sum them up. Mainly, they’ve learned how not be like all the others.

Don’t’ get left on the shelf. Take a look in the mirror, try to view yourself as others do, and decide if what you see is what you’d go out with given a chance. An agency makeover might pay just dividends in the client wooing stakes.


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