How not to conduct an advertising campaign

“Gets rid of blackheads, the heartbreak of psoriasis,
Christ, you don’t know the meaning of heartbreak, buddy,
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon
‘Cause it’s effective, it’s defective, it creates household odors,
It disinfects, it sanitizes for your protection
It gives you an erection, it wins the election
Why put up with painful corns any longer?
It’s a redeemable coupon, no obligation, no salesman will visit your home
We got a jackpot, jackpot, jackpot, prizes, prizes, prizes, all work guaranteed
How do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it
We need your business, we’re going out of business
We’ll give you the business
Get on the business end of our going-out-of-business sale
Receive our free brochure, free brochure
Read the easy-to-follow assembly instructions, batteries not included
Send before midnight tomorrow, terms available,
Step right up, step right up, step right up”

-Tom Waits, Step Right Up

Don Draper - WWDDD?

Many years ago when I was floundering around with absolutely no idea what I would become, I tried my hand at sales. This was my father’s chosen career and he gave me the following advice as we sat drinking at a crowded bar. “Kid, if you wanted to get laid you could start at one end of this bar and start asking women to sleep with you. That’s crude, you’d get slapped a lot, but odds are that sooner or later one would say yes. The art of sales is in getting slapped less, laid more, all while not having to work so hard at it.”

They just don’t make dads like that anymore! Obviously some of the folks who have been asking us if they can advertise on our site did not have a philosopher father such as mine. What follows are actual correspondence that occurred  just this past week. Some names have been altered to protect the chronically clueless.

Hello Sir/Madam,
Recently we visited your website ( ) and found
it very interesting. Given the relevance of your
website to our business, we would like to offer
an advertisement opportunity to you. We
would like to put a text link ad on your homepage/main page.
Our advertisement format is generally 15 words long
and it will contain one to three text links, which
we provide.About our business,we offer consumers safe
and easy way to apply for short-term loans .Please let us
know how much would you charge for this kind of ad. We look
forward to your reply and the opportunity to work with you.
Thank you,
xxxxxxx xxxxx.
Senior Marketing Associate,
xxxxxx, LLC

Dear Sir/Madam??? How freakin’ impersonal can you get? Oh wait, they put the partial domain name of the blog in the e-mail. My warm fuzzies came back! So, I sent back this tender reply:

After careful consideration and much soul searching I regretfully have to say no way in hell, but thanks for asking.

Anyone who knew my father will recognize the “but thanks for asking.” Politeness is very important! Even more so considering that I was dealing with a Senior Marketing Associate here.

Hot on the heels of the previous kind offer, this email arrived. Holy shit, we’re a popular site!


I’m interested in buying a text link on your website. I run a site about dog training and I’m working on promoting it. I realize that your site doesn’t fit my target audience perfectly, but a lot of people have a dog, so I think it would still work well.

Here’s my proposal. Rather than linking directly to my website from your homepage, I would write a unique, high quality article related to dog training that would include a link to my site within the article. The article will be strictly informative and would not be an advertisement. Then, you would just link to the article from somewhere on your homepage.

I don’t have a very large budget, but I could afford to pay $150 per year if that’s something you would be willing to do. If you are interested, please let me know.

Thank you!

xxxx xxxxxxxx

Now we’re talking! This guy is offering cold hard cash. If there is anything all of us love more than our doggies, it’s money! But xxxx brings up an excellent point, my site does not fit his target audience. It seems that xxxx is a smarter motherxxxxer than I thought. xxxx me! It looks like I am not going to get my xxxxing money after all. Think of what I could have done with that 150 smackers? Why, I could have supersized my lunches for a month, or financed a box wine tasting for all of my closest friends…xxxx it, why torture myself, it’s gone now. Oh wait, what’s this? “A lot of people have dogs,” you say? Hell yes they do! Lots and lots of them do! Cha-ching! I can almost taste those extra fries now.

Now, as happy as I was for xxxx that he could find a way to make our site work to his advantage, with great regret I had to send him this response:

I think we will have to pass on this exciting and quite unique proposal.

Damn, even typing that was like pulling the scab off a fresh wound. My dad also taught me never to turn down a fool’s money. Luckily I also had a mother, and my mother taught me a whole lot of stuff too. Like to see emails like those two and go “WTF???” Okay, she didn’t actually teach me those letters, and certainly not the actual words they represent (Thanks dad!), but she passed on the concept quite clearly.

Look, we accept advertising here at AWB. There is probably one at the top of this post, and another over to the right. However, the truth is that the only time we ever think about our ads is when a check comes in from Google, or we see some ad we find inappropriate for our site and want it out of the rotation. That’s about it. It also appears that we think about our ads much more than some potential advertisers think about who to target.

This site is about wine. Oh, and food and beer too, and well…okay, so we’re not as tightly focused as the experts say we should be. But we NEVER write about loan companies or dogs! Oh wait…

Shit. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hasty in turning down those ads.

Scroll to top