In this issue, Sir Gary of Halbert explains how celebrities boost the performance of ads and marketing campaigns, even if they appear to be an unlikely spokesperson.

Other than contact info (listed after the letter), this issue needs no updating and is as powerful today, as it was when this letter was written and...

If you think you can't afford to use recognizable stars in your marketing, you better read this issue to learn how to put the power of celebrity status to work for you at dirt cheap prices.

There is one interesting tid bit of information I would like to add.

In this issue our father talks about using Geoffrey Scott in an ad he wrote, and coincidentally, we just finished a video breaking down that super successful promotion (details at the end of this letter).

It might interest you to know that this particular ad was a huge winner which made the client so much money he bought a baseball team.

In fact, that ad broke a lot of sales records and made tens of millions of dollars so be sure to pay close attention to what the Prince of Print has to say in this particular issue of The Gary Halbert Letter.


------------- Original Letter ------------

W-a-y West of Jewfish Creek

Dear Friend and Subscriber,

 Some people who scuba dive are into photography. Others just like to cruise around underwater enjoying the scenery. Others like to explore wrecks. And so on. Not me. No. What I'm into is...

Wanton Slaughter!

       I'm telling you, there is nothing like going 60 feet down into an absolutely enchanting underwater world, staying there long enough so the inhabitants of that world come to accept you, conducting yourself in a non-threatening way... and then... when you get those underwater creatures to trust you enough to come up and timidly and curiously check you out...

You Kill Them!

       Oh God, how I love it! So anyway, earlier this summer, I was diving with Paulette at Sombrero Reef in the Florida Keys and, being possessed by the urge to slaughter, I was finning around while carrying a huge spear gun. And soon, I spotted a stupid little tropical fish and I dropped him just like I was Dirty Harry. And then, I spot a yellowtail. And "POW!" another one bites the dust.

       Now, the way it usually works is, I get to carry the spear gun and do all the killing and Paulette gets to carry the game bag into which we put the bloody-speared fish. However, since I've become supremely eager to share with Paulette the joy of slaughter, this time, after I get my two fish, we trade and she's got the spear gun and I've got the game bag with the two bloody-wounded fish. And there we are, happily swimming along when...

We Come Upon A Shark!

       And what does Paulette do, God bless her soul? She grabs my shoulder, points to the shark, gives me the spear gun and...

She Takes Back The Game Bag!

       Well, nothing happened. After a bit, the shark swims away and we continue our dive. And, when we get back to the boat, I give Paulette a lot of praise. I tell her she did just right. "Yessir baby, anytime we see any of those nasty old sharks, it is your duty to make sure it is you who is carrying the game bag with all those wounded, bloody fish."

       That's a true story. I swear.

       Now, I'll tell you something. No matter how long you've been diving, no matter how macho you think you are... A SHARK WILL ALWAYS GET YOUR ATTENTION. And last month, I told you your first job, if you want to to sell somebody something, is to get their attention. And I revealed to you how you could do this by writing what I call "killer" headlines. Remember?

       O.K., good. But, I'm not finished. This month I'm going to take it a bit further and expand on two more ideas that, just like that shark, will always get attention. These ideas are not appropriate for all situations, all the time... but... when they are appropriate, they can very dramatically increase the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

       So, what is it that will always get attention? The answer is...

Pictures Of Hot
Sexy Women!

       But be careful! If you don't do it right, putting sex appeal into your ads can backfire like crazy. Consider the plight of the "Playboy Channel" which has the highest percentage of "disconnects" of any cable hookup. Why? It's simple: The "Playboy Channel" is too risque for the Bible thumpers and not raunchy enough when compared with what today's smut viewers can get from X-rated films and videos.

       Such is life. Too bad for Playboy.

       Anyway, I want to impress upon you there is a fine line between using pictures of sexy women to attract attention and going too far and ending up offending those very people whose attention you have captured. And know this: Using pictures of sexy women will always offend some people, no matter how tame the pictures! Therefore, if you are the type of person (or else, you work for the type of organization) that won't ever risk deliberately offending anybody, then you should never use sexy pictures in your promotions.

       On the other hand, for the rest of my smut-minded readers (just kidding, just kidding), using such pictures (if you do it right) can help you rake in mucho fungolas.

       And, what's the first step to doing it right? Simple: It's using the right woman in your ads. You see, just because a woman is beautiful doesn't mean she will photograph beautiful. I had a "funny" experience once. There was a model I wanted to use in an astrology ad but I'd only seen her pictures, and I wanted to meet her in person. Well, the photographer said O.K., he'd set up the meeting but that I'd better be prepared for a shock.

       And wow, did I ever get one! You see, this woman who looked so great in pictures was truly just a "Plain Jane" (and I'm being kind) in person. It was weird. I was sitting at my desk looking at her pictures with one eye and looking at her in the flesh with the other and I could hardly believe it was the same lady. On the other hand, there are plenty of truly gorgeous women who look just awful when they are photographed. So therefore, don't fall in love with a pretty face until you see how pretty that face looks when photographed.

       And, speaking of pretty faces, what part of a woman's body attracts men most? Can you guess? I bet not. You see, studies show men are more attracted to a pretty face than any other part of a woman's anatomy! How about that?

       Onward. So anyway, Paulette and I often eat lunch at a little place down the street called "Cafe L.A." It's a neat place, right in the heart of ShowbizLand and therefore, it has plastered on its walls, hundreds of publicity photos of celebs, non-celebs and "would-be" celebs. And one day, as we are walking out rather indifferent to all these hundreds of photos (as usual) we walk by one that reaches out and virtually grabs your attention. You know, it's been said the late Marilyn Monroe had skin so photogenic it would seem to "talk to you" from her photos. Well, this photo we saw on the wall at "Cafe L.A." has that quality. Want some proof? Just take a look at the photo below and see for yourself.

       Are you convinced? I thought so. By the way, the woman in the picture is Raven Bleu and that picture appears on her record album called "Kiss The Boys." Whatever. So anyway, Paulette and I make it a point to get to know Raven... and... not only does she photograph like a dream, she also is a very nice lady.

       Here's the point: Her photograph really got your attention, didn't it? And likewise, using Raven's photo, or the photo of some other photogenic lady in your promotions, will also get the attention of your customers!

       But please, be careful. If you are selling Bibles to old ladies, or, if you are selling something to a bunch of phony, stuffed-shirt prudes, you may get some backlash you are not prepared to handle. It's a "judgment call" and only you can make it.

       So, where do you get pictures of foxy women like Raven to use in your ads? It's deceptively simple: Just look in the yellow pages under "Modeling Agencies" and you'll find all you need.

       But, make sure your call is a genuine business call! Do not call any model and tell her you've "fallen in love" with her picture and you want to see if the real thing is as good as the photo and you want to take her to dinner.

       I'm serious; that stuff won't fly and you'll look like an idiot.

       So now, here I am, a sitting duck to get bitch letters from my female readers telling me I'm a male chauvinist pig and I don't deserve to live. I can see it now! Here sits Ms. Elizabeth Adams out there in Baltimore about to write:

Dear Scumbag,
I always suspected you were a slimy pig and now I know it's true.

       Please Liz, don't do it. I don't deserve it because I'm really a nice scumbag.

       But anyway, just to keep Liz an Alicia Evans and all those other fine ladies out there happy, I guess I'd better reveal the other side of the coin. Which is, using attractive men in your promotions. Now, I must tell you, this is the kind of stuff (using men) that offends even me... but... my job is not to pass judgment. No, my job is to help you make a buck.

       So, hear this: Some time ago I did a piece of work for a client in Arizona and it did really well. And then, the client wanted to know if there was any way to punch it up even more. So I say to him, "Look, if you want to spend some extra dough, why don't you let me get you a celebrity to feature in your ad?" And he tells me to go for it and I get him Geoffrey Scott, who plays Krystle's (Linda Evans) ex-husband on "Dynasty." What happens next is we make Geoffrey Scott the star of the ad and we get a nice bump up of the gross (somewhere between 15% and 20%) which, in turn, means an even more dramatic bump up of the net since, once your fixed overhead is taken care of, a 1% increase in gross probably translates to a 3% increase in net profit. By the way, that's Geoff in the picture below.

       Paulette thinks this guy is good-looking but I can't see it, can you? O.K. now listen: There's a "mindset" you have to have if you are going to use a celebrity in a profitable way. For example, in my opinion, I doubt many people switch from Pepsi to Coke (or vice versa) because Michael Jackson or Mike Tyson endorse one or the other.

       On the other hand though, I do believe using someone with some "marquee value" can dramatically enhance a mail order/direct response type promotion because they tend to both glamorize and...

"Credential" The Promotion!

       I've said it before and I'll say it again: The #1 reason people do not buy from you is they are simply not interested in your offer. However, once you overcome that first hurdle, the #2 reason they don't buy from you is they are not completely convinced you are for real. And therefore, what a celebrity can do for you is, he can make you more credible.

       Which translates to lots more sales.

       You know, of course, the cosmetic ads I did for Tova Borgnine were hugely successful, don't you? Well, Ernie was featured prominently in those ads and, if you ask me, I don't think anybody bought those cosmetics because they wanted to look like Ernest Borgnine. But nevertheless, Ernie's celebrity did credential the ads; he did validate the ads; he made them more credible; he made them more believable.

       So, how much does it cost to get a celeb? Well, that varies and the first thing you've got to make sure of is you are dealing with a "sane celebrity." And trust me, they're sort of rare. You know, it takes a lot of people to make a hit movie or TV show. It takes writers, cameramen, electricians, directors, producers, lighting technicians and a whole host of others. However, there are many "insane" celebrities who believe the sun rises and sets on their silly asses and and they are the sole reason for a production's success.

       And, as Marlon Brando once said, "An actor is a guy who, if you ain't talking about him, he ain't listening."

       And, as Gary Halbert says, "Don't let any agent or celebrity B.S. you into believing you have to pay megabucks to get the credentialing you need. You don't."

       And besides, paying megabucks for all that celebrity firepower doesn't guarantee you anything. A case in point: Last year a major player in cable TV produced a show designed to sell water purifiers and they used Michael Landon and a bunch of other stars. I hear by the grapevine the show cost $250,000 and it flopped so bad it was like it never ran.

       And what's the tragedy? It's simply that they could have produced that show for less than 20% of what they paid and still used stars with enough "marquee value" to give them all the credentialing they needed.

       By the way, did you know fewer than 1% of all the actors and actresses in the entire world can support themselves solely via their chosen profession? It's true, most of them (even many well-known ones) have a second job or another source of income.

       What I'm saying is this: You can get a lot of "sane" celebrities for $10,000 or less, especially if you offer a "carrot" to sweeten the deal such as a nice bonus if the test campaign works or maybe a percentage of sales.

       Now, let's talk about how you go about approaching a celebrity. Well, the worst way I can think of is to telephone his or her agent. Agents are scum. As a general rule, I'd rank them somewhere just above lawyers and slightly below ax murderers. Agents, I believe, probably kill more deals for their clients than they make!

       You take a star who's starving, who hasn't worked in six years, who would be eager to make a fair buck being featured in a marketing campaign... and... if you call his agent...

He'll Quote You A Fee So Outlandish
You'll Think You Asked Him The
Price Of A Studio, Not Of A Star!

       And you'll say forget the whole thing... and...

The Star Will Never Know The
Conversation Took Place!

       But know this: If you submit an offer in writing, the agent is compelled by the "ethics" of his profession to pass that offer on to his client!

       Now the specifics: If you are interested in hiring a celebrity, the first think you should do is to get yourself a copy of the...

"Academy Players Directory"

       The price of this directory is $65.00 and it is updated every four months. It is published by, and you order it from:

Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, California 90211
Telephone (213) 278-8990

       This directory comes in four volumes and each of those volumes features 8 to 10 celebrities per page. The celebrities are categorized by LEADING WOMEN, INGÉNUES, LEADING MEN, YOUNGER LEADING MEN, CHARACTERS AND COMEDIENNES, CHILDREN GIRLS AND CHILDREN BOYS. All in all, the set I have (May, 1987) has about 15,840 actors and actresses. Now, before you get intimidated by the idea of contracting these people, consider this:

Fewer Than 200 Of The 15,000+ People In
The Academy Players Directory Earn Enough From
Acting To Pay The Rent!

       So there. Now, the directory has a picture of each actor and actress, it tells you the name and phone number of the talent agency that represents them, and, in many cases, the phone number of their "commercial" agency, plus the name and number of their personal manager plus...

The Number Of Their Answering Service
Where You Can Leave Messages For Them!

       Hoo! Haa! You're starting to get the picture, aren't you? Yea verily, what you do is you leaf through the directory till you find someone you'd like to work with and then you make a written offer rather like this:

Dear Celebrity-Type Person,

     I am writing to you in care of your agency because I would like to use you in an advertising campaign.

 My budget for the test campaign allows me to pay you an immediate $10,000 (Note: This will take about 30-minutes work on your part) and, if the test campaign is successful, I am prepared to pay you a royalty on sales which could amount to several hundred thousand dollars.

Also, I am working against a deadline and I need to hear from you within the next week. Therefore, because of the time pressure on me, I am sending a copy of this letter to your personal manager, your talent agency and I am leaving this message verbally with your answering service.


John Jones

       Trust me, my friend, that message will get through.

       By the way, you should especially consider using some "star power" if you do a lot of business by direct mail since a letter from a star (with his picture on the letterhead) will give you a huge advantage over your competitors!

       One last thought: What if you want to use one of those rare (1 in 100,000,000) pictures of people who are so incredibly good looking they divert attention from your message? Well, in that case, don't put the picture on the letterhead. No, that would be unkind. Use the picture down by the signature so your reader won't see it and be dazzled by it until he's finished reading your message.

   Gary C. Halbert
"Kindness Personified"

P.S. By the way, if you'd like to see Geoffrey Scott,(a celebrity who can pay the rent and is "sane" anyway and a genuine nice guy), you don't have to go through any hassle at all; just call me!

P.P.S. Two other sources of celebrities for promotions are Ingels, Inc., 8111 Beverly Boulevard, Suite 308,Los Angeles, CA 90048 (213) 852-0300 and Don Camp(213) 281-6970.

P.P.S. When you use celebs like Raven and Geoff, you also get the "reflected glory" of all their credits because you can legitimately mention in your copy all the magazines (Playboy, Vogue, etc.) and the TV shows ("Dynasty", etc.)and movies and stuff they've been in. More credentialing!

The Players Directory is no longer associate with the Academy but the book is still being published in a print and e-book version.

The ebook is really an online directory you get access to for 6 months and sells for $50.

The physical book is $75.

Obviously the online version would be updated more often but the print version would still be useful after 6 months.

You can find it here:

Interestingly, the first actor I recognized when looking at their old sample page was Ernest Borgnine for whom my father and I both had a lot of respect for. May he rest in peace.

Also, as I mentioned above, this letter was written around the time our father wrote a record breaking promotion in which he used Geoffrey Scott and...

Kevin and I just finished breaking down that ad to explain all the hidden psychology and unique tactics our father used in that particular ad.

If you would like to hear more about that masterpiece ad and know what was going on behind the scenes, you can listen to a free interview we did with two of the key people who, through some very unorthodox ways, made this super powerful ad campaign into the multi-million dollar blockbuster it became.

Just visit:

All the best,

Bond & Kevin

Copyright © 2003 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.