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October 22, 2004
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Woman Seeks Husband On a Billboard

Well, this could mean a lot of things.  I'm imagining a miserable wretch with a worried expression peering anxiously into traffic in a desperate search for her missing spouse as the candidates whiz by.  The reverse could just as easily be true.  I remember a publicity stunt pulled off by a radio station in PA when I was a teenager.  Two hardy souls got the chance to see who could survive the longest on the ledge of a billboard sign.  The most robust of the two won a wad of cash (a wad in those days was about $1,000).  As I recall we learned that two men will tolerate a lot of misery over a long period of time for a little cash.  Maybe this kind of thing is still going on in parts of the country where husbands neglect to inform their spouses of minor inconveniences like three month separations, hence the need for the annoyed bride to take to the highways in search of the errant groom.
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False Advertising?

But, alas, this story is somewhat more mundane.  Here, as reported by Reuters (again, it's Reuters with the sordid scoops), we have a Chinese woman living a lonely single life in Australia, desparately advertising for a husband on the Outback's thoroughfares.  I suppose the only thing worse than being lonely and miserable in Australia is being lonely and miserable in China.  

Reuters tells us that "Helen Zhou, from Shanghai, said she had tried Internet dating but found men did not want to commit."  Funny thing about Internet dating.  Folks you meet on the Internet tend to want to remain anonymous.  None of the words they use to describe it convey commitment in any form - virtual, cyber, chat, instant messaging.  Not a medium that fosters true emotional fulfillment.  So maybe Helen shouldn't have based her future prospecting strategy on her experience with Internet dating, but we have what we have.

Helen was thoughtful enough to list her requirements on her billboard solicitation (no word on whether she was similarly forthcoming about her own qualifications).  Here they are, with a few insights of my own thrown in:

Younger Than 45 - This works to Helen's advantage since we're told she is "middle aged", which could mean anything from 35 - 70 these days.  Helen didn't include a lower limit, but Australia presumably has laws that would prevent her from marrying a minor.  So Helen's aiming at prime real estate here.  Old enough to have earning potential and young enough to bear children.

Good Health - Helen was shrewd here as this is one thing that the Aussies tend to be one up on the rest of us on (at least that's my impression).  I'm thinking of Mel Gibson or that Crocadile Dundee guy.  They do seem to breed a pretty healthy stock of man down under.

Non Smoker - Probably a safe bet in the urban areas, especially among the healthier guys.

No Drinking.  Hmmmm.  Not in the genetic code of your typical Australian male.  Helen might want to try New Zealand.

Caucasian - Again, pretty safe bet, if a wee bit on the racist side.

Solid Financial Background - This seems to be asking a lot coming from a woman that needs to offer herself up on a billboard.  What exactly qualifies as "solid", and how old does the guy's money have to be to give him the kind of "background" she desires?  She's reaching here.

Good Sense of Humor - Suspiciously last on her list, which confirms for me that Helen doesn't have much of a sense of humor.  After the litany of premium specifications she's laid out, she'll be lucky if she gets a call.

"I'm not fussy," said Zhou according to Reuters, who describes herself on the billboard as a beautiful and intelligent woman seeking a "dream family with a fabulous partner."   Perhaps aiming a bit too high.  Remember, Helen, this is a billboard that you're using to recruit your "fabulous partner", not a cocktail party at Rupert Murdoch's mansion (the richest Aussie I could conjure up).

Helen goes on:   "I guess I want a traditional sort of person, not really flash -- an old fashioned kind of guy, not one who spends every cent and doesn't worry about tomorrow."   So, Helen, you're looking for the type of guy that doesn't respond to proposals on billboards, right?

Reuters finishes the story with this poignant, yet mysterious, closer:  "So far Zhou's search for love has received few replies."

Maybe Helen just wasn't creative enough with her billboard.  Here are some other options for her to consider if she chooses to stick with this particular recruiting strategy:


Push Marketing - Here's a proactive promotion strategy.  Rather than advertise for a spouse, threaten to come out after them.  The meeker souls will think that Helen just might be after them and come forward trembling in terror as they offer their half-hearted proposals.  Not necessarily a "fabulous partner", but a partner nevertheless.  And no guarentees about health, smoking, drunkeness, financial stability or humor.  Just a pulse.
Appeal To Thrift - Most guys will look twice if there's a bargain in involved - or at least Helen would like to think so.  Her dream partner "doesn't spend every cent" - so why not do some niche marketing and go after the cheap ones?  This particular sign is missing some important contact information, but it conveys the right message - call Helen and get a bride, cheap.
Mass Marketing - If Helen gets really desparate, here's one that pulls out all the stops.  Any old dude will do, even a Neanderthal.
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