From Ghosting to Orbiting, Curving to Benching, Breadcrumbing to Bird Boxing, has true romance become an instagram ideal more than a romantic pursuit? For many, the glow of amorous bliss can only be found in the realms of nostalgia regimented to cinematic serenades, romance novels, love songs, and ABC’s The Bachelor. Determining devotion through suggestive Snapchats instead of candlelit conversation has been going strong since the birth of Tinder in 2012. In this sea of social separation, can Prince Charming truly exist? Within romantic hearts and minds is the yearning to unearth a love story of astonishing power. To find Love in the Time of Cholera. The Bachelor has gained notoriety for how quickly it can craft its contestants to fall in love. But at the heart of the matter many know true love cannot be found within the formulaic foundation of the television screen but through the projection of intention.
With the series end of The Bachelor last week starring football player Colton Underwood, Philipp Hebestreit has elected to bring his worldwide love crusade stateside. The handsome, academic, 40 year-old “real-virgin bachelor” launched his “Free Philie” campaign ten years ago, on his 30th birthday, in an attempt to enlist the public in helping him find the "one.” He has since made international headlines due to a vast and unique, crowd-sourced approach to matrimony.
To arouse interest in the heavenly hope of finding "Miss Right," Hebestreit brings his ultimate soulmate search to America for the very first time. In advance of arrival, Hebestreit will launch his "Free Philie" ad campaign in New York City's Times Square district this month.
“My parents are my inspiration and the reason I began this campaign to find my one true love,” said Hebestreit. “They have been deeply in love for several decades and it’s the kind of everlasting love you just don’t see anymore.”
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Since 2008, “Free Philie” has been one of the largest and most elaborate partner searches in the world. This globally unique project was founded rather simply by Philipp who took to the internet to post his initial “love plea” on his personal blog – expressing the depth of his lonely heart. After receiving a groundswell of interest from women who desired to know if they were his match, he expanded the campaign onto the streets using flyers and large posters throughout several German cities in hopes of finding his one and only.
From newspaper advertisements, recorded video messages and bulletins, Philipp began to equip automobiles with flags and laminated foils. Whether it was advertising columns, lanterns or large parking lots, nothing seemed safe from his self-created “Free Philie” handbills and posters. His travels through different cities allowed new opportunities to enlarge the campaign. In Hamburg, he wore a full body shield and stood before a billboard proclaiming his mission. In Düsseldorf, he covered an entire house in printed tarpaulin amplifying his adventure. He released thousands of handwritten “messages in bottles” off the coast of Sylt in the North Sea (some of those can still be found today). With urgent optimism, he papered cities with posters, wallpapered dilapidated houses, placed placards in public spaces, distributed leaflets, released balloons before sailing over one city in a paramotor plane to drop flyers. What began as desirous determination within a single city, “Free Philie” soon engulfed a mass of international regions. Advertisments began to take on daring and audacious new actions. In Amsterdam, sheets were attached to bridges and spray painted with the crusade's logo while electric boats sailed down town canals. In London, he erected speaking stands at the Speaker’s Corner and within Piccadilly Circus. Soon, clotheslines hung in Belgian inner cities festooned with thousands of postcards. In St Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia, he created a sculpture of fairytale figures reinforcing attention upon his ardent quest. In Paris, the city of love, he braided the tress of the Champs-Elysee with thousands of cardboard signs. A large inflated Frog King was placed at the Eiffel Tower with a sign that simply said “Ready for Love.” Using a novel mix of action & performance art, entertainment, installations, street art, social media, video, literature and music the "Free Philie" campaign echoed with social commentary, highlighting a then unprecedented anti-neosexual revolution. Through its creation, Philipp Hebestriet conceived what he christened “love Art” whose installations could now be seen as far away as Austria, Switzerland, Norway and Italy.
As has been widely reported, Philipp Hebestreit was one of the fist virgin man to turn to the public aid in finding his very first girlfriend. The search for this love of his life drew attention to his untouched virginal beliefs in a highly sexualized society. During the "Free Philie" campaign he protested against the ubiquitous marketing and industrialization of sexuality in Western society. At 30 years old, Philipp was amongst just 10% of European men who were still virgins. For those who chose sexual abstinence, most did not share this information with the closets of friends for fear of being socially convicted as abnormal. In Europe, Philipp was viewed as a taboo-breaker for the way he tackled the topic of his virginity, which many thought of as both unprecedented and courageous. By encouraging others to see not see virginity as a shortcoming but a life attitude, one that leaves room for the commitment of ’true love," he broke the lance for those who chose to do the same. This caused a raft of public discussion and lead to a good deal of media attention. For years, he was the only German man willing to discuss this in public and under his real name. Through the “Free Phillie” campaign he distorted the flawed media reputation of male virginity in the Western world, one whose view of virgins was considered embarrassing, and shameful.
“Free Philie” quickly aroused interest and hit an international nerve. Letters, postcards, boxes, packages and parcels, registered and freight mail, telegrams, faxes, SMS and emails poured in from celebrities, politicians and church representatives from 104 countries. Philipp received cuddly toys, homemade videos, drawings, books, flowers, invitations with plane and railroad tickets, self-made cakes, lingerie, nude photos, cropped hair, perfume and more. Women camped outside of his doorway. A teacher sent him a “Medal of Knightliness.” The post office box he leased specifically for the project was terminated. The reason? A 1.50 meter teddy bear.
Ten years after its inception, this 40-year-old-virgin will bring his “Free Philie” campaign and ultimate soulmate search to America. It will kick-off with an ad campaign in Times Square to arouse interest in hopes of finding "Miss Right." Philipp will then make domestic appearances and tease his whereabouts on "Free Philie" social media accounts. The odyssey of Philipp Hebestreit's incredible and unusual story will fully unfold in book form currently in production.
W O R K H O U S E is one of the country's leading public relations and integrated creative agencies. Celebrating 20 years of service, the agency provides forward thinking public relations, social media, brand promotion, creative consulting and modern day marketing. Clients have included Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones, Hugh Jackman, Francis Ford Coppola, David LaChapelle, CBGB, Max's Kansas City, Interview Magazine, Galleries Lafayette, Porsche, Ford Motor Company, Virgin, Jazz at Lincoln Center, International Emmy Awards, Assouline Editions, Rizzoli International Publications, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, Chase Contemporary, Versace and Avroko. Workhouse offers untraditional service across a broad spectrum of entertainment, culture, fashion and lifestyle spheres. Visit workhousepr.com
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