Monday, April 1, 2013

Exclusive interview with Nate Walsh (Tanry ad creator!)

Forget the usual classified ads. When it comes to selling his Toyota Camry on Craigslist, Nate Walsh came up with an ad – which although it was flagged and subsequently taken off Craigslist – still managed to attract a ton of press for Nate, who is in the advertising business as a copywriter.
In case you are wondering about the Tanry, here are some of its listed features which include: “Only 1 person threw up in it (of course, she did so twice – hi Julie!), working CD player but more importantly working tape deck, hyperthermia-inducingly cold in the winter, Twilight bumper sticker, huge dents on both sides, the one door does not open from the outside” and other very interesting specifications as well… And in the bonus (bonus, bonus, bonus) section you can find “a female condom” (still unused) among other goodies!
The text is jaw-droppingly funny, and Nate has decided to use the kitschiest possible art direction which is basic low-tech collage (more like a mood board meets free internet download with primal cropping). Beirut/NTSC did not let this opportunity pass it by and contacted Nate on the email he posted in the ad scoring an exclusive interview (how cool is that? He should list this among the features “the ad for the car was featured in the coolest blog about advertising in the Middle East)…
By the way, you will notice that, since the ad is a little off track, so are the questions I decided to ask Nate:

First, is it true you are "comically poor" and still refuse to give the Tanry to just anyone?

I am unemployed (as of last Wednesday) and pretty bad about saving money, so yes, I would say "comically poor" still applies.

Yes, I was weirdly picky about who got the car. I had a number of people offer well above asking price, but they either a) didn't really seem to appreciate the ad, the car, or its oddities or b) they didn't seem to have a real need for it. Fortunately, I eventually found a student who was on a run of bad luck, really needed a break, and loved the car in spite / because of its quirks, so it went to her. 

OK, you said Julie puked in it (twice), but you never mentioned if you cleaned it or not?

Gross, man – of course I cleaned it. That isn't to say some vomit might not have fallen in-between the cracks and festered in the St. Louis sun, but yes. I wiped everything down vigorously. "No bodily fluids" was kind of my one rule about the car.

Do you think the car is suitable for a suicidal-driving Lebanese driver on roads with haphazard asphalt and other suicidal drivers?

That actually seems like the perfect afterlife for the car. Although I'm not sure if it's the "heaven" or "hell" sort of afterlife. Regardless, the car would fit right in as it rammed and ramped other drivers. If I hadn't already sold it, I'd drive it there myself right now (I'm assuming the car is amphibious here). 

Considering I have worked on the Toyota account before, do you think you'd be able to sell a brand new Toyota with the same zest?

Well, considering you were the one who worked on the account, you'd probably have to tell me. Clients are notoriously zest-aversive.

I won't lie, I do find it more fun and a little easier to sell something that is a little odd or damaged or terrible (which is useful for my dating situation), but I think you can find the weirdness and joy in anything if you're actually allowed to. 

What will your next car be like? (Saying you're moving to SF, I am betting it is a tram trolley)

Your assumption is correct. However, were I suddenly to strike it rich, I would definitely go for this Volvo racing station wagon they used to make. Look at this thing, man!

Did the ad generate any job offers?

No firm offers yet, but I have a number of interviews set up. A few agencies got in touch, as did the marketing divisions for a couple of video game companies and a pretty prominent social media network. I am also talking to a few publishers about maybe doing this same sort of project on a grander scale.  

Any tips in copywriting when you are not your own client? How do you cope with real life boring clients (and we all know they exist!)?

Prior to this, I worked with a lot of medical and food ingredient companies, which is certainly not the most exciting stuff. However, I think you can make it exciting by really digging into the details of what makes your clients' product, service, or company special. I've always been really big on details and differentiators – it takes me about an hour to pick out a new kind of toothpaste at the store – and I've found I'm just as interested in those details and differentiators even when it's for weird stuff like artificial food colors. Every product has something that makes it different, something that you can get excited about and wave in other people's faces – learn to appreciate that knowledge, and the process of discovering it, and even the most boring clients have their own peculiar sort of pleasure.
 Also, sell yourself first. I'm a terrible liar, so unless I really am convinced of the benefits of a product, service, or company, I have a hard time conveying enthusiasm to others. Make yourself believe it, and getting others to isn't hard at all.


GM said...

Excellent ad!!! Loved the interview specially the "OK, you said Julie puked in it (twice), but you never mentioned if you cleaned it or not?"

Tarek Chemaly said...

Well, it means I actually read the full details of the ad... And I was also wondering if he washed the car :) ... Fair question!