1,000 Clams

1,000 clamsI blame too many years in advertising for the fact I am a cynic. But as a diehard copywriter, I admit there’s one thing I still admire: great ad copy.

“Why didn’t I write that?” I’ve moaned more than once when I’ve seen or heard or read a fabulous, on-target headline attached to a great concept: Just do it. Maybe she’s born with it. Guess what day it is? You know the ones: They call up an instant image, evoke an instant feeling, spark an instant interest in the product.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a great one. Until the other day.

Subscribe to the VINEYARD GAZETTE and we’ll give 1,000 CLAMS . . .

It turns out that for each new subscription or renewal, the Gazette will donate 1,000 clams to help preserve the island’s coastal ponds. Fabulous, indeed.

Oh, sure, some folks might be disappointed not to get a mug or another tote bag. (My favorite has always been the free calendar with a one-year renewal.) But I think idea of the clams is brilliant, not only as a marketing hook, but also for its environmental effort.

The ad piqued my interest. I researched old Gazette articles and learned that quahogs (pronounced co-hogs, for those not in the know) are now thought to be the “longest-lived animals on the planet” since, a few years back, one was found off the coast of Iceland and determined to be 405 years old. Hmm. Not sure I’d want to pop that one into the chowder.

I can’t find any reference as to how “clams” began to connote “money,” but I suspect it’s connected to “wampum,” the supposed form of currency in 17th century America that was crafted from the purple and white shards of clamshell remnants scattered across the island beaches after seagulls have jack-hammered them for lunch. (Yes, I’ve mentioned that before.)

But I digress.

I don’t know the name of the copywriter who came up with the ad or which actually came first: the idea to donate clams or the clever headline as a marketing tool. But I’d like to send a big Hooray! for a job well done.

I also renewed my subscription for another year. (Good marketing, like good writing, deserves positive results.) When I finished, I clicked “Submit.” Then I shut down my computer, drove to the bookstore, and bought my own calendar.

On the way home, I stopped at the seafood market.

I Can’t Help It.

Something is wrong with me. On these glorious autumn days, I am hopelessly drawn to the beach…South Beach, Fuller Street Beach, Bend-In-the-Road Beach (you can probably figure out how each one got its name).

It’s not the sand or the tides or the end-of-summer warmth that has sucked me in: it’s the wampum.

There, I admit it. I walk along, head down, eyes rotating all around me, searching for perfect bits of purple and white, the hacked up remnants of once-lovely quahog shells than have been bludgeoned by ravenous scavenger sea gulls and left to linger on the shore.

IMG_3730I have quite a collection now. I have also added poor-wampum-relations – sea glass (note the right ear in photo), oyster shells (left ear), and odd pieces of shells that have no form or real attraction other than that they’ve been polished as smooth as velvet by the waves (eyebrows, mouth).

So that’s my confession of the week: My wampum habit has been revealed. I have no idea what I am going to do with my buckets full of perfect specimens…other than to make these charming faces that have become my little friends.

I am having so much fun here, I guess it borders on ridiculous. Perhaps I should write a book instead.