If you haven't seen it, see it. It's the jaw-dropping homemade ad—one of the craziest and funniest you'll ever see—that Nate Walsh posted to Craigslist in an attempt to sell his 1999 Toyota Camry. Words cannot describe the ad's awesomeness, but they can describe the process of its creation. In the Q&A below, Walsh—who it turns out is indeed an advertising copywriter—tells us all about his masterpiece, why he went with a collage, whether he's sold the car, and why he is now essentially fearing for his life.
How long did it take you to make this? Did you have help?
This was all a solo labor of love. It took an hour or so to write, and probably around 20 to put together, painstakingly cutting and pasting things by hand. Sometimes it takes way more work to make things look charmingly amateurish.
If I were to take the time I spent on this ad and apply my freelance rate, I'm pretty sure I'd make around $300 on the deal, so, you know, another well-planned financial decision.
You're funnier than 90 percent of copywriters. Do you work in advertising?
I do work in advertising, as a writer. I'll be using the weird virality of this piece the next time a client tries to disagree with my recommendations. "Did you SEE how many repins I got with my shit?"
Actually, the main reason I have to tear myself away from such a sweet ride is that I'm about to leave St. Louis, where I've been working for the past five years, and move out to San Francisco. Right now I'm mostly going to be doing freelance for startups and working on some of my own dumb projects, but … hmm … what is a classy way to say "SO TELL YA FRIENDS" to any agencies that might be looking for a writer? Help me out here, Emily Post.
As far as that other part, well, obviously most funny people use humor to mask deep-seated neuroses and self-esteem problems, so of course I read that question as, "How could you let 10 percent of ad writers be funnier than you?" Then I cried a bit.
What's your favorite part of the ad?
Well, despite the fact that I'm a writer, I'm actually kind of a fan of the look of the thing. I know just enough Photoshop to be dangerous, but when I started laying out content digitally, it just didn't have the right vibe for the tone I was going for. So I asked myself, "What would a drunken, profane second grader do?" And the answer came to me in a flash: COLLAGES.
I think they make every joke a little funnier than it actually is, because you have to imagine some lunatic with a glue stick cackling to himself at 2 in the morning as he pieces his weird little ransom note together.
Have you sold the car yet?
Not yet, but I do have a fair amount of offers. The problem is, despite all the amazing feedback and compliments I've received (Someone sent me a topless photo?), most of the actual offers have come from humorless people with names like "Randy." I'm trying to find the Tanry a loving owner who will appreciate its oddities like I did, but I'm also comically poor, so we'll see how long my scruples hold out.
Are you bummed it's been flagged for removal on Craigslist?
I was at the time, but it's taken on such a weird life of its own at this point—I've seen it on Pinterest, Jezebel, Jalopnik and Reddit, among other places—that I'm not really fussed at this point. I'm just glad people are enjoying it. The Internet can be a pretty snarky place (to put it lightly), but everyone has been amazingly positive and complimentary, which is a miracle in itself.
I am slightly worried, though, that the person who flagged the ad may have been one of the exes from the chart included in the ad, in which case she has to be blowing a gasket about the amount of attention it's managed to get since. So, you know, no darkened alleys for me for a while.