Unbelievable! My Book Is Being Advertised on TELEVISION!

My happiness-project resolutions include Push myself, Conquer a device, and Aim higher. I remind myself frequently that novelty and challenge bring happiness (they bring frustration, annoyance, and fear, but they bring happiness, too).

A few weeks ago, after I watched a video by Slate ad critic Seth Stevenson, How I Ran an Ad on Fox News, about how it’s truly cheap and possible to use Google to advertise on TV, I was dying to try it for The Happiness Project. An ad for a book on TV? Fantastic!

I was lucky. First, although I had no idea how to make an ad myself, I knew someone who could. Maria Giacchino, of My Little Jacket, made my fabulous book video and shoots and edits my weekly videos for the 2010 Happiness Challenge. So I knew I could call her.

Also, I was confident that Angie Lee, the fantastic director of marketing at my publisher, Harper, would be excited to try the experiment. She’s extremely creative and very interested in harnessing new technology to spread the word about books.

So here’s the amazing thing. I watched the Slate V video on March 19, immediately sent out an email saying, “Let’s try this!” And the ad campaign starts today. Yes! It’s true! With just thirty days of preparation, and not much money, my book will be advertised on television. Crazy! I love technology and the internet! Maria made it; Angie figured out the campaign of when and where it should run. Here it is:

We based the ad on my little story “The Years Are Short,” because that story — about my realization that, in my life with my children, “The days are long, but the years are short” — has resonated so deeply with people. There’s a slightly longer, different video version of the story here, and it was also adapted by the Today show here; Maria had the challenge of doing a 30-second version. (Actually, 27 seconds, because we had to leave time at the end to give the URL for the blog and to show the book jacket. Twenty-seven seconds is short.)

I hadn’t expected to play such a starring role, but hey, if you make an ad on the cheap, you use people who will work for free and show up when you need them! You can also see glimpses of my younger daughter.

So…it’s starting today. Thrilling.

Instead of being a traditional advertisement for the book, it’s a little story about my daughter and me. If you know people who would enjoy it, please forward it to them (here’s the YouTube link.) It would make a nice message for a mother in your life, in honor of Mothers’ Day!

It’s interesting about creative projects – it’s easy to assume that creativity is something that comes from an individual, but often I can do something creative only because I know the right person with whom to collaborate. For example, I couldn’t have done Four to Llewelyn’s Edge by myself. I needed to work with my very creative friend who knows a lot about costumes, props, and book-making, and we needed Tracy Charnock to take the photos, and we wouldn’t have been able to make our project into a book with the fantastic Gabe Greenberg. I had the idea to do this ad, but I couldn’t have taken even one step toward doing it without Maria and Angie.

A larger happiness point: It’s easy, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, both at work and at home, to shy away from taxing, unfamiliar tasks. Why take on anything more? But even though doing this ad took a lot of time and mental energy, at a time when I was already frantically busy, it also energized me. Aim higher.

* If you know people who might enjoy the ad, please forward them the link. In particular, it seems to strike a chord with parents. The days sometimes feel interminable, and it seems like you’ll be picking up toys or searching for mittens forever, but it all passes in a flash. The challenge is to appreciate now.

  • I LOVE this! I am reading your book NOW and just am enjoying it so much!

    • gretchenrubin

      Great!! Thanks!

  • This is so inspiring. Your blog has really hit home for me the amount that we can do ourselves to promote our own projects. I used to see things I thought were cool and say “I wish I did that.” Now I think “ooh, maybe I could do that!” And then I try. Most of the things are manageable–someone has done it before, and we’re all just people. It’s not like a magical elf did it so therefore I have no shot–it’s just a matter of actually taking the steps and time and energy. I’ve felt that way every step of my personal blog journey. Each time I want to do something new, or be a part of something bigger, I think, well I just need to start somewhere. Sometimes it works out–and faster than I ever imagined!–and sometimes it doesn’t. But even when it doesn’t I think I’ve made progress by making a new connection. So the point is –thanks for being such great inspiration!

  • Lisa

    That’s because it’s AWESOME! I am working through your book now. Love it! Congratulations on your well deserved success!!!!!

    • gretchenrubin

      Wonderful! Thanks!!! I so appreciate that.

  • Michele

    Congratulations! Wishing you continued success.

  • Wow! How exciting is this! I love the ad too!

    Congrats, Gretchen!

  • Mark Sanders

    Hi Gretchen (also my sister’s name!) –

    Thanks so much for posting these two ads. As the father of two adorable little girls I recognize that I need to appreciate the time, but the phrase “this is their childhood” will continue to resonate with me. I want them to have as many great experiences as I had in my childhood (these little things, just like riding the bus).

    I’m currently reading your book and am enjoying it immensely. Thanks for the work that you do.

  • Gretchen, you ROCK! I just might need to watch your short little 27 second spot 27 times a day to keep reminding and inspiring me! I love it! One of my mantras is “there’s only one way to do it and that’s to just do it.” That rings true for projects as well as trying to make a mind-shift. I am one of those people that feels like I have so many balls in the air that I HAVE TO multi-task…but then I continue to feel guilty for not giving FULL attention to what matters in that moment. Baby steps. Thank you for finding the right words to strike a chord with so many of us!

  • Allison

    I love it! I am posting the video on my FB page.

    And I am enjoying my audio book version of the Happiness Project. Today I listened to you talk about exercising, while I exercised! How cool is that. 🙂

  • Wow! That is so amazingly wonderful. Squeee!!! Congratulaitons….

  • I just bought two more copies for my mom and my friend at work.

    • gretchenrubin

      Awwww, that’s so nice to hear! I hope they enjoy the book.

    • kmglenn

      Great idea! I originally offered to loan my copy to my sister, best friend, etc., but no way! First of all, I need to keep my copy handy. Secondly they deserve their own. So, I’m off to the bookstore, credit card in-hand!

      • gretchenrubin

        Thanks!!! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the book so much.

  • 423

    Wow…who would think this was POSSIBLE..you are right, Gretchen…sometimes you just need to aim higher! Congrats!

    WHERE are you going to place it?

  • bg

    Congrats to you. I love “Thw Years are Long” and when the student is ready the teacher will come. Aim higher.
    Recently I took on something, a self imposed challenge,
    yikes, public speaking to make a new path for myself.
    While causes me anxiety and fear but I am still going to do it.
    You had the AHA moment, this was it.
    Best wishes,

  • Cathy

    Oh, Gretchen I love your enthusiasm and it thrills me to see your successes. In McKinney, Texas we have our own Happiness Project meetup, which is slowly growing and shockingly rewarding. The whole thing is delightful: blogging, talking, making and keeping resolutions, new friends… what joy.

    Warm regards,


    • gretchenrubin

      Wonderful! How great to hear about your meetup — what fun!

  • Jenny

    I love your blog and your book. But I have a question. I agree 100% that growth is important for happiness. But the downside of failure is real, especially as an adult when lost savings and income have very long term impacts. Do you think the blog and stretching yourself would have brought happiness if it didn’t work out as well as it has? I’ve been starting a business for the past 6 months, and in some ways, things are going great. But if it doesn’t work (and it’s still really up in the air), it will bring incredible stress to my family. It’s hard to enjoy the progress I’ve made when there is so much risk looming around me. If it doesn’t work out, I think I’ll have a hard time thinking that I shouldn’t have just gotten a real job.

    • gretchenrubin

      This is an absolutely critical question. It’s great to say “Risk, challenge,
      follow your passion!” but the reality is that things don’t always work out,
      and that’s very difficult. Especially when the financial risk is scary.

      In my case, I love the process of writing my book and my blog so much that
      they still would have been a gigantic source of happiness, even if they
      hadn’t resonated with readers. But naturally I’m thrilled that they have.
      Some of my other books haven’t done nearly as well, and I still am happy
      that I wrote them, because I found enormous satisfaction. That said,
      however, they didn’t represent big financial risks.

      It can be comforting to think about what you have thought if you’d NEVER
      taken the risk. As painful as this is, there would have been the pain of the
      unrealized path if you’d gotten a “real job.” You might always have
      wondered, and regretted, not making this attempt for yourself. I remember
      when I thought to myself, when figuring out whether to switch from law to
      writing, “I’d rather fail as a writer than succeed as a lawyer.”

      This is such a huge subject! Hang in there!

      • Jenny

        Thanks for the comments!

        • I seem to have replied to Gretchen instead of you. Meant to respond to BOTH of you. See the reply above this. I just want to add, when I started my dream job back in 1994, it started as a passion. I had to reinvest most of my profits for a few years. But this career has been a blessing. Now I am transitioning into a new passion, supplemented by the older & still vibrant other one. Take your time and enjoy the process~!

      • I think it is also important to keep in mind that we can reduce the risks by taking the next logical step. Not all the steps have to be financially expensive. Many business endeavors take several years to be developed and become profitable. That should be considered as part of the plan, but not a barrier to it.  Dream big, and then walk it out one step at a time. It looks to me like Gretchen has been a good role model in this. Starting a blog can be done for free. Writing a book often starts with research, that can be done inexpensively (unless one buys all the books~!).

  • SimplyJo

    Congratulations Gretchen! That’s how you do it! Just do it! Your post this morning sums it up for me – appreciate now – that’s why whilst having breakfast before school the kids and I are also playing pretend horses and my toddler son is scooting round on his bike in the house! Have fun

  • Petra

    Congratulations! What a great way to advertise your book!

    I’ve got a question – beginning this year you usually posted the weekly video on Sundays. I gthaught this was a great way to introduce the new resolution for the next week and gave me time to think about it before Monday morning. Lately I saw that sometimes it was posted on Mondays sometimes on Tuesdays. Do you follow a regular schedule or do you post the video sometime early in the week?

    Let me say that I love love love your site and the 2010 challenge!

    • gretchenrubin

      When I started, I posted on the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd day of the month, no
      matter what day of the week they fell on. I added the videos to whatever
      post I made that day.

      This meant that a lot of material was crammed into those posts, and also
      that the videos ran unpredictably, month to month.

      So I decided this month that I’d post the videos every Tuesday, no matter
      what day of the month, and that I’d post them as stand-alones.

      So that’s the plan now! I’m very glad to hear that you find the videos

  • delialloyd

    Love it Gretch! Next let’s work on getting it shown over here in Europe-the happiness empire expands!


  • abbypogrebin

    Congratulations! This is another exciting “first” for this resonant book, and my hat’s off to Maria Giacchino of Little Jacket Media who does amazing work!

  • abbypogrebin

    So wonderful — congratulations to the ongoing “firsts” of the Happiness Project! And a tip of the hat to the amazing Maria Giacchino, who does amazing work!

  • Just gorgeous Gretchen. I will be sharing this video, definitely. Well done. Sometimes it is so challenging to aim higher, but you have proved that it can be most worthwhile.

  • Helen

    This post blows my mind!

    Seriously, you just got this idea and then you had the wherewithall to go ahead and do it? And the end product is so great.

    A TV ad for a BOOK??? No one does that (do they? I don’t own a TV so I actually have no clue).

    So you took an outrageous idea and just ran with it. In some ways it almost seems out of sync with your style (I’ve been reading your blog since the early days). You must be incredibly proud of how far you have come!

    But now, if you don’t mind, could you put the bar down a bit lower for the rest of us?

  • I would be very interested to see a comment later that updates on the results of that ad. Any metrics you are willing to share would be awesome, I’ve been thinking about running an ad myself but hesitant

  • katywolkstanley

    Well, it worked. From zero to teary in 27 seconds.

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so pleased to hear that it resonated with you!

  • Mimi

    Gretchen, I feel like you are my sister! (Yes, you have one, and I have two; more always welcome.) I am finishing your book and can’t wait to give it to my favorite people. It’s so much more than I expected: smart and good, savvy and real.

    My parenting mantra has been “the hours are long but the years are short, so your axiom and your ad really resonate with me. (Honest, some hours did seem interminable . . .) Our baby is somehow 18 years old, going to school abroad . . . what a thrill to hold her hand these days!

    I’m so grateful to be able to transition from the book to the blog . Congratulations and keep up the exciting work!

  • I know you have a lot of people congratulating you, but I wanted to be one more. You work really hard, and it shows. Thanks!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks SO MUCH!

  • I love your can do spirit, Gretchen! You find out about something and go for it. You believe in possibility and are not afraid of challenges. Many people write books and feel victim-y about the lack of sales. You wrote a book and took the reigns in your own hands, asked for help, and were kind and polite in the process.

    Thanks for inspiring me!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thank you!!

  • farisya

    Hi, My husband went to New York last month and bought me your book as a gift.(since there isn’t a copy in my country yet).
    Wow.. I love it. It’s such a great book to read, really helps me. Thanks Gretchen.

  • Wow! Serious congratulations are in order. This little project of yours is turning out to really be something special and big. Amazing stuff!

  • Congratulations! This is truly inspiring. When we think of TV ads we (or at least I do) think of the “big guys”. It’s nice to see that isn’t always the case.

  • I am so happy you have a commercial! I will be sure to look for your book in the store!

  • That’s awesome!!!! I actually remember reading that very article on SLATE a few months back for the commercial the played at like 2:00 AM and it was all Twilight-Zone-Like.
    Very cool that it inspired you to make it happen too!!!!

    On another note, I very much enjoyed the commercial. 30 seconds of something showing me a book that will actually make me happier through personal action and outlook, rather than 30 seconds of something trying to show me how if I buy this mop my cleaner floor will allow me to have better house parties and more friends haha.

    Congrats on the commercial! I’m at Borders right now browsing your book!

  • Sandiwags

    I walked in to a book store asking the sales girl about a book about a Wonky Donkey I had seen in the window I wanted to guy for my niece and nephew.. she asked if there was anything else she could help with.. I hesitated and then thought about their Mum, my beautiful sister and how she needed some help in finding happiness in her life.. so I ask about the girl what she would recommend.. without even hearing the end of my sentence about my sister’s needs, the girl went straight over and picked up your book “The Happiness Project”. That was yesterday. I decided I should proof read the content of the book before giving it to her, just in case it was not the right content for her, I didn’t want to make her feel worse.. It is now 3pm today and I am up to June in your year of enlightenment!! I cannot put it down and I am so excited to give it to my sister as I truly believe it could be the catalyst for a turning point in her life. So I just wanted to so thanks for believing in yourself and sharing your knowledge with the world.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thank you! I’m thrilled to hear that the book resonates with you — and I
      hope it helps your sister in a tough time.

  • Teachjoy

    Greatch, thank you so much! that commercial made me cry! and your book has changed my life. thank you!

  • Nancy

    I had tears in my eyes watching this as I remembered similar moments of wonder in the life of my daughter, who will turn eighteen this month. The years really do fly by, and I’m still trying to savor every chance I get to spend time with my all grown up baby girl.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m thrilled to hear that it resonated with you.

  • Maggie

    Thank you for this, today. I’m currently reading your book and am finding it to be the best behavioral therapy manual I’ve ever come across. This morning I woke up cranky as I’d been up several times with my 9 month old, like most nights. I’m struggling to make the decision, it feels like, between her and me at the moment. If only I could find the magic bullet so I could sleep/go out with my husband/leave at 7PM to sing in a chorus again… But- I look at my seemingly impossible-to-get-to-sleep older daughter, who now sleeps great, and realize the days (and nights) seem very long right now, but it will pass before I know it. And as this is our last baby, I know I will miss these days too.

  • Rosalyn MxMillan

    This is a great concept. I wish I had thought of it. Who doesn’t want to be happy. Life is so simple, yet we make it complicated. I admire your tenacity in this book endeavor. Best, Rosalyn McMillan, author of: We Ain’t the Brontes.

  • Wayne

    Hi Gretchen,
    Congrats on your book’s success. I was wondering how the Google tv ads worked for you? Did they drive traffic to your site? Also – how long did it take to get approval for the ad to run after you created a campaign? Thanks.

  • Brittney Hollett

    Is this where I write a random comment? Hm..

    Gretchen, I’m almost half way through your book.
    I’m 18 years old.

    I can’t wait.

    Thanks, 🙂

    – Brittney Hollett, Newfoundland, Canada

  • Decocco

    Congratulations Gretchen, on your continuing journey! You have inspired so manyof us. You are right up there with Eckhart Tolle and Dr. Wayne Dyer on my nightstand. Pretty great company!

  • Susan K.

    The years are definately short. Those little boys of mine are 23 and 19 today. When I stand in the kitchen in the morning I am reminded of seemingly endless days of lunches and homework and soccer practice. I miss it all.

  • WOW!  Reading the post combined with the Ad – has inspired me to read the book again and really do the Happiness Project again. .. my kids are grown and I did miss a lot of the years by being too busy, which I have made up for – but now hit a rut with myself. I need to also PUSH MYSELF and put some effort into truly finding my happiness.
    Thank you!!

  • Brenda

    absolutely connect with the comments about this…as the mom of 3 amazing men/boys, i love the shared moments of each day…then and now–how fortunate each of us are to have those to recall and embrace~

  • Ashley

    I agree with the saying “the days are long, but the years are short”. I find it sad that people basically wish away the more boring parts of their life, finding out when they’re older that they wasted some of their life by not living it to the fullest.

  • Cmargot

    I posted your one minute movie on my Facebook page, and my friends were really moved…especially those of us who have kids in our teens and twenties.   

  • Stefanie

    I’m nearly finished with the book, which was a Christmas gift. This quote immediately made it to my bulletin board. The board is nothing but a single picture of my boyfriend and our two children, and a slew of quotes that I look to for inspiration and motivation each day. My own project will begin on February 1. Thank you for this gift of thankfulness.

  • L1583TH

    Gosh! I´m not from the U.S. ‘am from Central America. I´m not such a reading fan but my husband has always said, that you don´t look books, for some reason books look for you. And that´s exactly what happened with your book. Gretchen; I LOVE IT!!!! I haven´t finished it yet,  but I can´t let a day go by with out even reading at least 3 pages. And I feel like if I´ve known you for years, isn´t it funny?? You have helped me see life from a diferent point of view, and now ‘am trying to share this good vibe I feel. Thanks for a WONDERFUL BOOK!!! 

  • Great commercial, Gretchen!  And what a powerful reminder to hear being a father of a 2-year old.  Thanks!

  • Dorcas

    Wonderful post. I remember when my twins were 2. I was headed for an unexpected divorce and feeling sorry for myself, when I had a similar epiphany. All of a sudden the thought popped into my head that I only had 16 more years with them. My wonderful twins are now 32; and I can honestly say that sharing their childhood years as a single mother became some of my favorite memories. I shared your video link on Facebook.

  • Carol

    Great ad! I talk about this story all the time.

  • Amy Curtis

    great spot!!
    i love all the authentic marketing you do

  • Ann Marie

    This book and its messages have become absolute beacons for me, and talk about the book to anyone willing to listen. I’m so excited that its reach will expand ten-fold with its TV advertisement – a feat with which even my big mouth can’t compete! I can’t wait to see this transform into the Happiness Movement that I am certain it is destined to be.

  • Ann Marie Cilley

    This book and its messages have become absolute beacons for me, and talk about the book to anyone willing to listen. I’m so excited that its reach will expand ten-fold with its TV advertisement – a feat with which even my big mouth can’t compete! I can’t wait to see this transform into the Happiness Movement that I am certain it is destined to be.

  • John Hage

    Great video Gretchen!!! I am an aspiring author and this encourages me to get my message out.. Thanks so much for your work…

  • Sandy Sabean

    Absolutely lovely!

  • Amy Ozarow Oscar

    Love this from @gretchenrubin:disqus. (PS Congratulations!)