the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

21st Century Romance


Neil:  So, what do you think?

J:  I, uh, like the idea.

Neil:  You don’t like it. I can hear it in your voice.

J:   No, it is a clever idea. It might even work.

Neil:  So, what’s the problem?

J:   I’m just not sure it’s the WAY I visualized you coming back. I thought it would be more romantic.

Neil:  This IS romantic. This is 21st Century romance!

J:  Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but is it really THAT romantic if Air New Zealand only sends you back because you promised to put their hashtags on your Instagram photos?

Neil:  We’re not just offering them hashtags on Instagram.  We’re offering them Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  We’re offering them to be part of a real life love story. Imagine the campaign “New Zealand is for Lovers!”

J:   I think the State of Virginia already has that one copyrighted.

Neil:  How about, “When in Love, Fly Kiwi!”

J:   Yeah, but the name of the airline is Air New Zealand, not Kiwi.”

Neil:  I’m sure they’ll figure it out. They have a big marketing department.

J:   So, let me understand it — you want us to email Air New Zealand and offer them that we we will hashtag everything we do while we travel around the South Island if only they sponsor it?

Neil:  Well, we have to offer them more than that.   We need to tell them that we will convince all of our readers that THEY should come to New Zealand and find love THEMSELVES — while flying Air New Zealand, of course — the airline of Romance.

J:  But what does this have to do about us?

Neil:  This is all about us!

J:  It makes me feel as if you are only coming back to see me if you get a free ticket.

Neil:   A ticket is $2000!

J:  Well, I suppose this IS who you are.  I think the first post I ever read of yours was about you taking Sophia out to dinner to the Olive Garden, using a coupon.

Neil:  That’s being frugal.

J:   Maybe I’m just worried about what happens if this plan falls through?   Will you still come back to see me as soon as possible?

Neil:   Of course I will.  Soon.   But maybe not as soon as if we were sponsored by Air New Zealand.

J:  That’s not a very romantic thing to say.  Imagine telling your blog readers that’s how you feel.  They all peg you as super sweet.

Neil:  Screw them.   And, believe me,  they LOVE to get free stuff.  You should see them pushing each other and grabbing things at BlogHer.

J:  But imagine this is one of your screenplays. Wouldn’t you want the hero of the story to return to his love interest, no matter what, even if he was so poor that he couldn’t afford a ticket? Wouldn’t he find a way, legal or illegal,  because if he didn’t see her soon, he would die from heartbreak?

Neil:  Exactly, that’s how I feel!  If this was a screenplay, the clever hero — a George Clooney type — would come up with this amazing social media campaign, and get an airline to sponsor him to see her again! Happy ending!

J:  And then what — at the very end of the movie, one of the pilots would do the wedding ceremony at the airport terminal?

Neil:   That’s not a bad idea. Let’s put that down.

J:   I don’t like this idea.  It’s like exploiting our relationship.  Not everything has to be sold through “social media.”  I’d rather you were so desperate to come here, that you became a stowaway on a ocean liner.

Neil:   Sure, I would rather do that too.   But do you know how difficult it is to be a stowaway on an ocean liner nowadays? It just doesn’t happen anymore. They have security, and besides, I don’t like cruising. Too much food.

J:  OK, write to Air New Zealand.  Let’s see what happens.   I’m just happy you want to see me again.  Do you want me to help you write the letter?  I used to work in marketing.

Neil:   Sure. But I’m not ready yet for that.   First, I need to get myself prepared. I read a tutorial on pitching to a brand, and there are a number of steps involved. I have to create a media kit, gather my daily page views on my blog from Google Analytics and Quantcast, chart my daily influence on Twitter, create a Facebook page, map out my Facebook statistics in order to show reader engagement, and lastly, convince all of my friends to give me a +New Zealand on Klout to cement my role as a leadership role on this subject in my community.

J:  That sounds like a pain in the ass. Are you sure it’s worth all that trouble just for trip to New Zealand?

Neil:   Hmm, maybe you’re right. Let me go to the Princess Cruises forum and research “How to Become a Stowaway.”


  1. Jasmine

    This is so awesome!

  2. tracey

    You know, I think you may actually have a valid idea here. Seriously. I don’t know if you are joking about it or not, but I really think you could market this and get sponsored! Especially if you start appealing to all of the romantic women readers you have. We love a good love story.

    THAT SAID: Make sure you clarify that you will only document MOST of the trip. Leave some time for private time, you know? Ahem.

    • Diana

      Yes, keep some of it private. It’ll give you leverage for the next trip, you can pitch Hugh Hefner as a sponsor.

  3. Pearl


    We can all help you promote your campaign, Neil.

    New Zealand: Love the landscape, love its people.

  4. monstergirlee

    Love must conquer all!

  5. Shannon akaMonty

    “And, believe me, they LOVE to get free stuff. You should see them pushing each other and grabbing things at BlogHer”
    That made me laugh, because I saw it happen with CROCS, of all things. I was horrified/amused/disgusted watching it. It was like Black Friday at Wal-Mart, only better dressed and with more teeth.

    Why don’t you go for a double-header and have Juli flown to you as well? IT COULD BE BIG. Then you could stow away on a cruise ship together and it would be a lot more fun – sleeping on the deck, having Gopher the ship’s purser sneak you blankets and food…
    I say go for it. 🙂

  6. Bon

    snort. 🙂

    • MaryLUE

      Me, too. *snort*

  7. Avitable

    Well, now I want to move to New Zealand to get laid. You sold me!

    • Neil

      Kiwi women rock!

  8. Dana


  9. sizzle

    Hope you aren’t the seasick type. 😉

  10. Hannah Curious

    Expensive airfares, distance and a relationship lived through pixels and data packets… this all sounds *so* familiar! And yes, it is doable although that means many hairy times, a diet of Top Ramen (my partner pretty much survived on those for the last 7 months or so) and hoping I could pay for my groceries later (common practice on the island and the shopkeeper was my friend, which helped immensely). We cut everything that was non-essential, like new clothes, entertainment… basically anything that wasn’t bills, basic food and cat food (as we share our lives with two small domestic carnivores). Would we do it again? Without hesitation. Was it worth it? Of course. In fact, we never asked ourselves whether there was another way. Splitting up was never an option. Good luck to you and Juli… Also, check out a Canadian guy called Zach Bussey and his “sponsored life dot com” site. And cringe. Or be awed.

  11. Hannah

    Laughing but quietly so I don’t disturb a houseful of sleeping littles. But remember, New Zealand’s marketing these days is all about Tolkien. Is there some way you can work that in, too? Perhaps get matching elvish tattoos, or something?

    • Neil

      I’m too tall to be a hobbit, but she…

  12. magpie

    you’re the best.

    but here’s an idea – how about a Kickstarter?

    • Neil

      That is way too crass for even me.

  13. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    Sure beats trying to get on the Bachelor.

  14. Marinka

    I love this. But you should also approach some US airlines who may be interested in getting you the hell out of the United States. I’d totally hashtag that shit.

    • Neil

      Should approach American Airlines too before they go bankrupt.

  15. Stephanie

    Oh, my. You do whatever it is you need to do. A Kickstarter or something for global romance. You’ll figure it out.

  16. Alexandra

    Kiwi Bird Airlines would be fools to pass this up.


    Just let them see your FB threads, and your twitter convos, and all of us here on your blog crying out “WE LOVE YOU NEW ZEALAND!”

    “Let New Zealand make a lover out of you.”

    If they only recognized the gold you were offering them.

  17. Alexandra

    Also, this is my favorite part of this post:

    “Neil: Screw them.”

  18. pia

    This was so romantic you had me checking google analytics on a site I haven’t updated in six months.
    Wonderful photo

  19. Marta

    Still think the whole idea is adorable. AND your instagram photos are amazing that in itself should be enough.

    Good luck!

    • Skevi

      I agree with Marta! 😉

      Go for it!

  20. Ren

    Clearly, any sponsored trip would be an *extra* trip….

  21. Linda

    Great plan and so worth any collateral pain in the ass. Go for it!

  22. Juli

    Pitch it!

    But just know, if they do sponsor you, you will have to ski the Southern Alps, swim with whales, and go bungee jumping.

  23. Shannon

    Air New Zealand would be FOOLS not to jump all over this!

    • Neil

      Let’s see what happens.

  24. Stacey

    You’re ambitious. My lame solution would have been “Well let’s see what kind of tax return I’m getting this year.”

  25. Sara

    I love that photo – so every day but so filled with joy :). I don’t know about your idea, it sounds a bit dodge. Still you gotta do what you gotta do! One of you will have to move eventually.

  26. MissingMolly

    Hoping great things for you.

  27. Father Muskrat

    Creative thought IS romantic! You should try to make a go of it.

  28. Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom

    Love…New Zealand Style! Truer than the red, white and blue-woo-woo-woo!

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