Ernest Shackleton Lead Generation Ad and a Hollywood Swipe

This lead generation ad supposedly ran in the Times of London seeking recruits for Ernest Shackleton’s heroic Antarctic expedition.

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”

This “damning admission” classified ad supposedly brought in 5,000 applications virtually overnight.

Oh, how copywriters wish it were so.

But to my knowledge, no one has been able to locate this widely attributed ad in any archive of The Times.

I still love the idea of the ad and you’re free to test out this advertising strategy in quest of your own glory.

And now it’s Hollywood’s turn for a swipe.

See if you recognize any Shackleton influence in the soon to be released gem of a film, “Safety Not Guaranteed.


  1. says

    Now that’s what I call funny. Hollywood swiping an ad.

    Shame they can’t come up with something that funny on purpose anymore. 🙂


  2. says

    Incidentally, did you know ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ was written by an Indian in the 18th Century?

    Funny how no mention was made of that. There’s actually a Bollywood movie based on the original book.

  3. Lawrence Bernstein says

    Fascinating, I had no idea… and 18th Century?

    What is the name of the original book?

  4. says

    The Indian move is called Devdas.

    Sorry: Hindi isn’t my language.

    Also, I was off on the time it was written. I wrote 18 century, pressed submit and couldn’t change it.

    Here’s more info about it:

    This author, while Indian for his time (before independence), actually wrote his books in Bengali, which is my mother tongue.

  5. says

    I’m crushed.

    I love that ad, and I’ve used it innumerable times to make specific points.

    Well, whoever wrote it, the ad has gained fame, so it’s still worth taking note of.

    Thanks for this, Lawrence.

  6. says

    Of course, Robert A. Heinlein swiped the same classified in 1963 for his SF/Fantasy novel, Glory Road:

    Here’s the classified in Glory Road: “Are you a coward? This is not for you. We badly need brave men. He must be 23-25 years old, in perfect health, at least six feet tall, weigh about 190 pounds, fluent in English with some French, proficient with all weapons, some knowledge of engineering and mathematics essential, willing to travel, no family or emotional ties, indomitably courageous and handsome of face and figure. Permanent employment, very high pay, glorious adventure, great danger, You must apply in person, 17, rue Dante, Nice, 2me etage, appt. D.”

  7. Lawrence Bernstein says

    Very cool, Ryan. My late, late reading tonight once I get my second wind.

  8. Lawrence Bernstein says

    Let’s just pretend Shackleton wrote it… it’s a version of reality I too favor! Thanks, Donnie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.