If you’ve been in New York City in the past couple of weeks, you’ve most certainly noticed the humorous new advertising campaign for the Jewish dating site Jdate “Powered by Yentas.” A yenta, in case you’re not up to speed with your Yiddish, is “a person, especially a woman, who is a busybody.”
“For countless years, old women have played an integral role in bringing single Jews together so they can procreate and keep the Tribe alive. Our campaign highlights these matchmaking yentas who’ve been working tirelessly in Silicon Valley to code the best Jewish matches,” said creative director and standup comedian David Roth.
The idea was to photograph a trio of 80 and 90-year-old women as if they were the brains behind Jdate—burning the midnight oil to match new couples. The concept was shot in New York by Randal Ford.
“We thought Randal was the guy to elevate this campaign and we could not be happier with how his work turned out. It’s a rare combination to create photos that are both beautiful and truly funny, and Randal achieved that. He was very collaborative and fantastic to work with. All the women were put at ease by his handsomeness and charm,” Roth said.
The task was to create three individual portraits and a fourth group shot. Donna Grossman Casting led the search for the “models” while our production team Toni Bashinelli of Lockbox Productions got busy with the rest of the details; finding the appropriate props—an energy drink can called Kosher Energy, a coffee cup that says “Best Bubbe Ever,” and stickers for the back of their laptops in the shape of menorahs and dreidels. The wardrobe had to balance between millennial techie and Jewish grandma.
“A lot of this terminology was new to me. I’m an Irish Catholic Lebanese Texan. If that’s not a mix, I don’t know what is. I didn’t know what a mensch was and I’d never heard the word kvetch. It was a learning process for me, but getting up to date on my Jewish terminology was a lot of fun,” said Randal.
Bea Slater, a real 90-year-old Jewish grandmother, was chosen as one of the primary figures. She was shot in a pod chair wearing a velvet tracksuit, sneakers, and headphones. Though she had never modeled professionally before her debut for Jdate, Bea is the daughter of a commercial photographer and not only grew up having her photograph taken regularly, she also worked as a children’s photographer before she got married. “It took me 90 years to become a professional model, but I like it,” said Bea.
With four shots to achieve and a lot of moving parts, it was a long day on set for the women. They all had a fantastic time, but by the end of the day, they were beat.
“There’s something so wonderful about working with older people in this manner, seeing their sense of humor. I just really enjoy it. In the last shot of the grandma on the hoverboard, the woman in the background was actually sleeping,” recalled Randal.
Response to the campaign has been outstanding. “I’ve gotten a bunch of texts from friends in New York who’ve seen the billboards, and they’ve all had a good laugh” Randal said.
“We love the Yentas,” said Bart Visser, Brand Director at Spark Networks SE, “and having been around for 20 years, Jdate is very much like a yenta—tenacious and unrelenting in the search for that one perfect Jewish partner, and passionate about the preservation of the Jewish identity.”
Randal says the success of the project is in large part thanks to a great creative team. “Without awesome concepts like this, I don’t have much to work with. And they trusted me to bring their concepts to life. I take that as a compliment, and I take it pretty seriously, too” he added.
A great big shout out also to Art Producer Sabine Rogers and the Hogarth Worldwide account team, who worked with us in a very tight timeline to bring David’s amazing concepts to life.