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Kai Ryssdal: With consumers being purposefully tight with a buck in the middle of a recession, the advertising industry is an ugly business right now. Especially for copywriters. Targeted online ads have collided with the great recession to wipe out more than 32,000 traditional advertising jobs in the last year. Marketplace’s Steve Henn found an ad guy for whom the old line about desperate times calling for desperate measures really applies.
STEVE HENN: At a going away party for colleagues who’d just been canned, ad man Lawson Clarke thought he was fine.
LAWSON CLARKE: Like an idiot I was going around hugging everybody, saying don’t worry it’s fine. I’ve been laid off twice before — once by my own father — so it doesn’t get any worse than that. And ahh…
The next day the head of HR dropped the axe. So Clarke did the only thing any self-respecting ad executive could do. He put together a Web site — featuring himself — sprawled on a bear skin rug.
CLARKE: It’s Burt Reynolds famous pose in Cosmopolitan.
PAM Murtaugh: Oh! Well all right then.
Pam Murtaugh is a marketing consultant.
Murtaugh: That is interesting.
A 70’s era portable TV doubles as a fig leaf while displaying Clarke’s work. Catchy, male-oriented spots like this one for Bob’s cut-rate men’s clothes.
AD: Men all over Europe are wearing Capri Pants, Capri Pants.
Clark took a similar approach to selling himself. But I asked Pam Murtaugh if the strategy was really the best way to go?
Murtaugh: Well, it depends on your goal of marketing yourself. If his goal is to market himself as the voice of the guy he’s done it in spades.
She says he’s got it down when it comes to marketing ironic macho to young men. But Clarke’s former employer did a lot of work for companies like Hershey’s. And marketing executive Adam Hanft says ad agencies want writers who target women too. They control roughly 80 percent of all consumer purchases. So…
ADAM HANFT: It’s not looking great for him, but he might want to consider relocating to Russia or eastern Europe where this kind of male centric approach still has a lot of runway ahead of it.
Still Clarke’s, ah, body of work has gotten him a mention in Ad Age and 250,000 Web hits last week.
Murtaugh: Would it get him hired? I don’t know. But man it’s worth a laugh and right now everybody needs that.
PHONE MESSAGE: You’ve reached Lawson Clarke, male copywriter.
Leave a message. He’ll get back to you.
In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.
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