Gretchen Rubin

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.

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