The letter below was sent out to about 50 carefully selected advertising people in May 1998. I also enclosed a flyer with detailed instructions, photos of the grand prize (a limited-edition wristwatch), and several handwritten, asinine comments by Vance).
Congratulations! For your stellar creative work, you've been selected to CONTRIBUTE TO STAY FREE! MAGAZINE. Ever dream of exploring your deepest, darkest movivations? Rubbing shoulders with an elite group of the nation's premier media critics?
Well, me neither. I would, however, like to offer you the opportunity to showcase your creative skills without any hassle from clients. Stay Free! will run your ad free in our next issue as part of our First Annual Memorial Tribute & Festival of VANCE, in honor of celebrated dead author Vance Packard (The Hidden Persuaders, The Status Seekers).
The deal: come up with the most subversive, pointed attack on advertising possible. Product not included. The ads may be directed to the public at large or to fellow advertisers (whatever you consider the most affective means for putting yourselves out of business.) The best entries will be published in our fall 1998 issue and sent to key industry publications with a fake letter from Vance.
Here's your chance to remake that great idea you could never quite sell. What's more, top contestants will receive lifetime subscriptions to Adbusters, a special hand-crafted Vance wristwatch (limited edition of 6), and a bubble bath with Bob Garfield*.