Have you read Derek Hansen?
He’s New Zealand born but grew up in Australia. He was formerly in advertising, but walked away from his career to write books. Terrific guy. He wrote a book called “Dead Fishy”. It’s a collection of fishing stories. One story is about an ad man that has a little property in a quaint fishing village called Seagarden.
One summer he goes there for his holidays to discover all the businesses in town are closing down and practically everything is for sale. How can it be? It has fabulous countryside with rolling pastures. The ad man goes into the local diner for a meal, but the milk is stale and the food is off. He cannot understand it. This place has everything. Cows, sheep, ducks, fresh vegetables, and arguably the world’s best fishing. The problem is that it’s off the freeway. It has no tourists. No traffic. No income.
So he has lunch with the town council and offers to invest a large sum of money into the village if they do what he exactly what he says and agree to sign a contract. In return he will get 17% of the profits they make. What have they got to lose? They are losing money. They cannot sell their property. They agree.
The ad man paints the whole town blue and white. He teaches them to use fresh, locally grown produce and shows them how to make the best fish and chips, the perfect steak sandwich, finest salad. He changes the name of the stores. Instead of Betty’s Bakery, he calls it Seagarden Bakery. He turns Burt’s Butchers into Seagarden Butchers. And so on.
He cleans up the streets and fixes old road signs. Then he erects several billboards on the highway. The first one says, “5 miles to the best hamburgers in the world”. The next billboard confesses, “3 miles to the world’s best milkshakes”. The following billboard announces, “1 mile to the world’s best fishing”. A mile past the turn off, another billboard says, “You just missed the world’s best fish & chips. Turn back now”.
Suddenly people start driving into Seagarden. One by one, car after car things are picking up. Word spreads. People make regular stops at this lovely seaside town. Some stay for a weekend, others for weeks. The town is making money. The ad man starts to see a return on his investment. He is happy to go fishing.
Two years later, the town folk cannot understand why they are paying this ad man for doing nothing. He just comes there to fish. He doesn’t do much. Some start to change the signs on their stores. Burt the Butcher liked to have his name on his shop. He changes it back. The grocer doesn’t like blue and white and repaints his store.
I think you can see where this is headed. The town falls apart. The adman doesn’t care, he still goes there to fish on weekends.
The article first appeared on Campaign Asia