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Invite for October 2010 MAGIC Party

Flip Store St. Marks Place - NYC Magic GardenFlip was the great 80s clothing store on West 8th Street and also on St. Mark's. Remember the old St. Mark's - the one with mohawks, Dojo, and the sock man? Another flip we're doing here is revisiting an old password: Seruchi, and you'll see why (see a Seruchi commercial on Youtube ). I wrote about Seruchi in February 2009, and to quote myself: "for the first time in MAGIC GARDEN's eight-year history I have no proof of the password's NYC-cred; I don't know that Seruchi was in fact a NYC-born company, but I know the commercials aired locally and they wreak of 1980s NY fashion."

Well, I was thrilled to receive an email a couple of weeks ago from a stranger confirming that Seruchi was indeed a NYC company, and a whole bunch more riveting information. Here's what that glorious stranger wrote (I got his permission to post it):

I was googling old clients -- Seruchi Jackets being one of them -- and your site came up in reference to your Password for February, 2009. A long time ago I wrote the jingle for Seruchi designer jackets. I also designed the logo and shot the first ten or so commercials.

I was about 26 or 27 at the time. The story behind Seruchi was kind of interesting (I'll let you be the judge.)

Here's the short version...

During the Jordache craze I was an up and coming director shooting commercials for such giants as Scandinavian Ski Shop, Evelyn's Beauty Land, Coney Island Pay One Price... you get the picture.

A very observant Syrian Jew from Brooklyn approached me to make an ultra low budget commercial for his jeans. He cautioned me to refrain from any provocative or suggestive references. His brand was "Arpel Jeans." My solution was a jingle that repeated the phrase, "Hug me, Arpel" over and over. I reasoned that hugging is an innocent, acceptable act between parents and children and very appropriate for jeans.

Around that same time I was approached by a young Israeli man, also about 26, who was interested in getting into the fashion business. He owned a men's clothing store on 42nd street appealing to the "pre-Disney era" neighborhood crowd. He was so taken by the success of his fellow Israeli who started Jordache, he wanted to learn all he could about TV advertising. Of course, at the time, so did I but I didn't tell him that.

It seemed that every day for several weeks he was coming up to my office for hours at a clip, asking me the same questions over and over. By the way, he wouldn't tell me his last name, only his first... Benny.

"Shell-l-l-y. What do you think... Too many jeans on TV, I should make jackets, no? Seruchi is a good name. Sounds Italian, no?"

A quick aside, often he would come to my office with his best friend, also Israeli. His name was Joseph Levy. He owned an electronics store on 42nd Street selling refurbished low end stereos. He wanted to start a fashion company focusing on women's apparel.

He asked me at least a dozen times, "Joseph Levy. Jo-lev. Sounds French, no?"

At some point, it started to wear thin. One day, I finally said, "Benny. Are you ever going to do anything?" He pulled out a very large bankroll, pealed off a stack of hundreds and said, "Make me a commercial."

I wrote a jingle that I thought was cutting edge for its time. He wasn't interested. Somehow, he had heard my Arpel Jeans jingle which had aired only briefly. He loved the "hug me" and begged me to write a jingle around it. He came up with the tag line "You got me, Seruchi" even before he met me so I had to incorporate that into the jingle. I think I blended it in well, no?

There was one problem. He had no jackets and he couldn't afford to make them. So we went to Macy's, bought a few "Member's Only" jackets, made some modifications and I spray mounted plastic Seruchi labels onto them.

Just after we finished the first spot I learned that the Men's Sportswear show was going to be at the Coliseum (Columbus Circle before Whole Foods). We rented a small booth on the Mezzanine level. No one could find it even with a floor plan. We hired a few inexpensive models and had them walk around wearing the jackets with buttons that read "Ask me about Seruchi." We had a TV and VCR playing the commercial endlessly to the point where our neighboring booths complained to management.

When retailers came to our booth we promised to put their names at the last five seconds of the commercial and air it according to how large an order they placed.

After he had enough orders, he went to Korea and had actual Seruchi jackets made.

So, yeah. It was a local NYC brand although one week, as a lark, we bought spots on every single commercial break for several days running on every station in Laredo, Texas. We had a retailer there and the spots cost between $5 and $10.

That's it.

Have a good evening

Sheldon Richman

That email made my month!

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