Breakthrough advertising

Written by Keith McDonnell. Last updated on Sunday, March 03, 2013.

FOREWORD

Welcome to the most sought after direct marketing masterpiece. This book was
recently selling for over $900 dollars used—so I decided to re-issue it. It
is a real privilege to bring Gene Schwartz’s advertising wisdom back into
print. We built a wonderful business based on his wisdom. He was a special
delight and a treat to know—Gene was 6’2" and reminded me of Gary Cooper
in The Fountainhead. But Gene had much more charm and wit and a fabulous,
unforgettable smile. Exciting sight—watching the multi-talented genius’s
fingers flying over the keyboard creating another brilliant ad. And then he’d
sit back with that great smile, read it over and enjoy it more and more.
Gene wrote advertising copy lor the best direct marketers in America. And
then he published a book in 1964 titled Hoxc to Double Your Child’s Grades
in School, following up with How to Double Your Power to Learn and then
Breakthrough Advertising in 1966. He was very clever—he exchanged his
copywriting for access to mailing list names and promoted his own books
to them! But then Gene had a stroke in 1978 and he had trouble typing
. . . for it affected his right side. But he worked and iii

IV

FOREWORD

worked until he became quite proficient typing with just his left hand.
My big idea—Retain Gene as a business consultant instead of a copywriter to
guarantee him a regular income. He became very important to us in that new
role. l i e helped very much in the creation of the Bottom Line/Personal
concept and of our editorial style. Awesome. Then there was Gene III,
the scientist, always reading the leading-edge science books and belonging
to a very sophisticated group that met weekly to discuss the implications
of those scientific advances on society. Finally, there was Gene IV—an
amazing talent as an art collector, together with his wife Barbara, a
famous interior designer. They built a fabulous art collection betting
on Hans Hoffman Morris Lewis, Frank Stella, Donald Judd and Milton Averv
well before anyone else had heard of them. Their first acquisition was by
the color-pioneer Hans Hoffman. It took me years to appreciate Hoffman’s
work. Barbara also helped me build an incredible collection of photographs
that are now at the Art Institute of Chicago. On my first gallery tour
with them—I discovered a crumpled photo by the Starn twins that had two
words on i t Confusion/Order. That is what I’m devoted t o – b r i n g i n
g order from confusion. So Barbara and I built a very exciting Lessons in
Life collection. I was her first art advisory client. And it is with her
generous permission that we bring Gene’s classic book back into the world.
Martin Edelston Founder and President. Boardroom Inc. Publisher of Bottom
Line/Personal January 2004

PREFACE TO THE BOARDROOM EDITION

This book was first published in 1966—what seems to be three lifetimes
ago. It was put out bv Prentice-Hall, a marvelous house: it sold onlv a few
thousand copies. But since it was published I have had people coming to me
regularly to tell me that thev directlv credit reading this book with their
making millions of dollars. This is amazing enough, but even more remarkable
is the fact that—when I look back on it—not a single one of these people
was a copywriter. Here is a book that is called Breakthrough Advertising
. . . and yet was used bv men who were not in the business of advertising at
all, to make more monev than most of us ever dream of accumulating. How did
this happen? Whv was a publisher, a financier, a manufacturer of novelties,
able to make so very much monev with a book that is about putting sentences
together? (The financier told me that, within one vear after obtaining the
book, he had raised his net worth from $100.000 to $10 million). Are the
sentences contained in the pages that follow actually that powerful? Can
they change the fortunes of men so radically? Are thev far more universally
adaptable than I had first t h o u g h t . . . so they are no longer about
advertising products, but literally about opening whole new markets for them?

\1

PREFACE

Therefore, eighteen years later, when Boardroom Books asked me to republish
this text. I had to study it again, with the fresh eyes of a person who had
not read it in all that time, to see what was the real content of my book,
and its real effect on its readers. I did. I discovered the secret. And
I am using this introduction now to admit my red-faced shame. What I had
thought I had written those mam- years ago was a book on advertising; what
I actually put down on these pages was an entireh’ different book, on a far
broader theme: There is a way to develop an entirely new market for a new
or an old product. That way involves a certain number of clearludefined
steps. And in this hook 1 show „ou every single one of J those steps.
’ As you mav know, all of us—no matter what official designation we give
the industry we do business m – a r e actually on a deeper level, in exactly
the same profession. We are all’simply creating or exploiting markets for
our products. When the market is born, our business is simultaneously given
birth. When it grows so does our share of it. When it is mature, our sales
charts develop heir first aches and pains. And at that point, if we can develop
a fresh new- market for that old product, it is exactly as if we achieved
the Faustian dream, and enabled that product to drink from the proverbial
“Fountain of Youth.” We are all primarily conceptual midwives. helping g i
v e birth to new markets for our products. All the other functions" we or our
business, p e r f o r m – t h e manufacturing, distribution service hnancmg,
and all the r e s t – a r e simply adjuncts to this vital central process.
We are, in a single phrase, “Market-Makers.” We sense each new market in its
turn. We test and evaluate its size and scope We gauge its true potential
financial strength, and then we focus all the people, all the money and
all the desire that makes it up on one ultimate object: our own product.
Most of the time, the market exists before our product, and we simply tap
its present strength. But, m this era of constant

PREFACE

Ml

change, we ourselves mav help give it its first viable financial form. We
may sense that people want computers in their homes as well as their offices
. . . or want to walk around all dav with music plugged into their ears
. . . or would like to spend three air-conditioned hours in a faraway galaxv,
battling with light-swords against evil and tyranny. Making a market, then,
is not. as I thought when I originally wrote this book, simply a matter of
making an ad. It is also the making of a product. And it is the making of a
conduit through which that product can be obtained bv the people whom you
have made desire it more than an equivalent sum of their money. This book
outwardly talks about the sentences that make up the primary appeal of that
product to that market. But its true and deeper message is found when it is
interpreted as a market-diviner, and a market-intensifier. In other words,
its message will show vou how to find your “dream” market, and how to drive it
into a national “feeding frenzy.” And I have also made an equally important
discovery upon reviewing this book since it was first published. The examples
in its pages have grown slightly older, but the principles that these examples
manifest are timeless. For example, if I were writing this book today, its
examples would show more appreciation of feminism, environmental awareness,
health and fitness striving— even the blessed sexual revolution. Thev would
be more open and more frank than thev could have been then. All this is for
the good—but this book is not about revieiving todm/s ads, but creating from
scratch tomorrow’s winners! This book is about avoiding the need for copying
or imitating am other product or advertisement. So today’s examples are as
“outdated” as those of two decades ago. This book is about what-happensnext,
and the fundamental rules of making a fortune out of slightly redirecting
that tomorrow. You see, people don’t change: only the direction of their
desires do. They cannot be made to want anything, nor is it necessary to
create want. All that is necessary is to be able to channel

v U1

PREFACE

those wants into the proper products that offer legitimate satisfaction
for them. It takes ten million . . . fifteen million . . . twentvfive
million. . . fifty— million . . . one hundred and fifty million people
. . . to create a vast market for your goods. But it takes only one slip
of paper—or its recitation by a series of salesmen—to direct all those
millions of people to your stores, or vour catalogues, or your wholesalers.
Not one single thing has changed in that regard since I wrote this book. Nor
will it ever alter in the slightest. So this book is not about building
better mousetraps. It is, however, about building larger mice, and then
building terrifying fear of them in your customers. In other words, it is
about helping to shape the largest and strongest market possible, and then
intensifying that market’s reaction to its basic need or problem, and to the
“exclusive” solution vou have to offer it. Ask Rodale Press—for whom I
sold over twentv million dollars of a single book, The Practical Encyclopedia
of Natural Healing. Ask the publisher of this book. Boardroom Reports,
Inc.— who started out with $3,500 in total working capital, and who will
probably do more than 25 million dollars in gross volume next year, with I am
proud to say at least a little bit of assistance from me. Ask the seventeen
businesses I’ve started or helped start. . . (Twenty-five percent of just one
of them was sold for close to a million dollars in one dav.) These principles
work. They discover markets. Thev build markets. They intensify markets. Thev
revitalize markets. They perform, in sum, the invaluable function of giving you
customers for the products you want or have to sell. And that’s what we all
need, isn’t it? Customers. This, therefore, is a book full of customers—for
your products. It is really nothing else. Just customers, by the millions.
Eighteen years have passed. Three lifetimes. They’ve been good years, and
good lives. I hadn’t read the book since then, but

1A

PREFACE

some hidden part of me had remembered it, and I think it’s worth your
reading now. If vou agree with me, whv not write and tell me so. I have
several millionaires, and multimillionaires, to my credit now. I’d like to
make the next one YOU. Please help me. Gene Schwartz

DEDICATION

To BARBARA, who somehow, incredibly, still loves and always inspires me.

INTRODUCTION

Creativity Can Be Made to Order If You Follow This Simple Rule If you expect
a scholarly tome on advertising, stop here. I am a mail order copy writer
who makes his living by producing results—in carefully-measured dollars of
profit—from the written word. My income—my standard of living—depends
bluntly and directly upon my ability to sell. And I have no salesmen to
help me; no store-reputation to help me: no point-of-purchase reminders,
no discounts, no friendly sales clerks to give mv products a push. I sell,
or do not sell, on the basis of one tool alone—my ad Therefore, I have
done a great deal of thinking and experimenting with these ads. And, since
I have had the good fortune to own my own mail order firms for the last
eleven years, I have had far greater freedom than most copy writers to put
mv ideas to a conclusive test and to see whether or not they really work.
I believe, as do many other advertising men, that mail order is the greatest
copy writing school in the world. In mail order

INTRODUCTION

XI

for reasons which I’ll reveal later in this book, YOU learn techniques and
approaches to copy—especially new-product and newslant copy—that you learn
in no other branch of this business. Some of these techniques I have never
seen discussed in anv other article or book on copv writing—and I think
I’ve read most of them. I have explained these techniques in detail in the
hope that they will prove as profitable to other eopv writers as they’ve
been for me. Can they be used by non-mail-order eopv writers as well?
Most assuredly. J. K. Lasker once said that mail order makes a copy writer,
but his real pav-off comes when he applies his mail order techniques to
general advertising. I think that B.B.D. & O., Ted Bates, Ogilvy, Young &
Rubicam and a dozen other agencies prove this every day. Therefore I’ve
written this book—not from the mail order perspective alone—but from the
universal problem of all eopv writing: How to write a headline—and an ad that
follows it—that will open up an entirely new market for its product. An ad
that will give a new product immediate profit: that will give an old product
a brand-new slant; that will give a competitively-battered product a new
weapon—not onlv to protect itself against its imitators but to actually
damage or destrov the loyalty of their following. These objectives cannot
be achieved by following somebody else’s formula—no matter how successful
it was for them. Thev demand creativity Thev demand a brand-new headline;
a brandnew approach to the market: a literal advertising “breakthrough.”
Hence the title of this book. This, then, is a practical book, of practical
rules that produce, and exploit, creativity, and that are meant to pay off
on the very first ad. To put them to work, vou start with these basic facts.

INTRODUCTION

Basic Facts of Life for Copy Writers Writing copy is like playing the
stock market, or being an atomic physicist. Basically all three of these
professions—eopv writing, speculation and science—are exactly alike. The
same keys make each one of them work. And if you realize win. vou can double
the effectiveness of your copy overnight. Consider these facts: All three
of them deal with immense natural forces gargantuan forces thousands of times
more powerful than the men who use them. In science, they are the fundamental
energies of the universe. In speculation, they are the billion-dollar tides and
currents of the market place. In copy writing thetj are the hopes and fears
and desires of millions upon millions of men and women, all over the world.
The men who use these forces did not create them; thev can neither turn them on
nor shut them off thev can neither diminish them nor add to them. But they ran
harness them! The scientist did not create the energy of the sun; hut he can
direct that energy into the explosion of an atom bomb. The speculator did not
create the enormous growth of the electronics industry after the war: but he
can ride that growth to produce a fifty times increase in his capital. And the
copy writer does not create the desire of millions of women all over America
to lose weight; but he can channel that desire onto a particular product,
and make its owner a millionaire. This, then, is the end goal—to take these
gigantic natural forces and harness them to our own uses. But how do we do it?
No two of these forces are alike. Each is unique; each operates in a different
way The same formula, earefullv worked out to release atomic energy, fails
complete])- to solve the problem of rocket propulsion. The same pattern of
investment, that spots the upturn in electronics and makes a fortune, loses
that fortune in uranium. And the same advertising appeal, that builds an industrv
in reducing, collapses completely when applied to health foods, even
though both advertisements may reach exactly the same audience. Whv? Because
no formula works twice. Each and every formula is simplv the written solution
to a particular problem that occurred in the past. Change even one part of
that problem, and vou need an entirelv different formula. That’s why memorizing
theories won’t make vou a scientist, or studying charts won’t make you a market
wizard, or rewriting somebody else’s headlines won’t make vou a copy writer.
What will work? Innovation, of course. Continuous, repeated innovation. A
steady stream of new ideas—fresh new solutions to new problems. Created—not
by the impossible route of memory—but by analysis. In afield in which the
rales are constantly changing—where the forces that determine the outcome
are constantly shifting— where new problems are constantly being encountered
every day— rules, formulas and principles simply will not work. They are
too rigid—too tightly bound to the past. They must he replaced by the only
known method of dealing with the Constantly New— analysis. And what is
analysis? It is a series of measuring rods, cheekpoints, signpost questions
that show you where a particular force is going, and enable you to get
there first. It is a series of rough guesses, based on past successes,
that enables you to cut through the surface of a problem to see what makes
it tick. Analysis is the art of asking the right questions and letting the
problem dictate the right answers. It is the technique of the break-through.
And it can be learned—just as surely as grammar, mathematics or spelling.
The first part of this book is about analysis, applied to the profession
of copy writing. Its basic thesis is this: Everv new market—everv new
product—every newadvertisement is a fresh new problem that never existed
before on the face of this earth. Past advertising successes

CONTENTS

PART 1: THE BASIC STRATEGY OF PERSUASION 1 1 MASS DESntE: THE FORCE THAT
MAKES ADVERTISING WORK—AND HOW TO FOCUS IT ONTO YOUR PRODUCT 3 What Is
This Mass Desire—and How Is It Created? 4 Permanent Forces 6 The Forces
of Change 6 How to Channel Mass Desire Onto Your Particular Product 7 The
Analysis of Your Product: What It Is—and What It Does 9 2 YOUR PROSPECT’S
STATE OF AWARENESS—HOW TO CAPITALIZE ON IT WHEN YOU WTUTE YOUR HEADLINE 13
Your Headline’s Real Job 14 What Your Prospect’s State of Awareness Demands
From Your Headline 15 The Most Aware 16 The Customer Knows of the Product
But Doesn’t Yet Want It 16 How to Introduce New Products 79 How to Introduce
Products That Solve Needs 21 How to Open Up a Completely Unaware Market 23
Giving Words to a Hidden Dream 26 Exploiting a Hidden Fear 27 Leading Into
an Unacceptable Problem by Starting With a Universally Accepted Image 28 To
Project a Hidden Desire Which Cannot Be Put Bluntly Into Words 29 Using a
Common Resentment or Unvoiced Protest to Capture a Far Greater Market Than
the Direct Statement of the Solution of That Resentment Would Produce 30
Projecting an Ultimate Triumph That the Prospect Will Identify With 32 xv

CONTENTS

Projecting the Result of a Problem in Such a Way That It Will Be Identified
With by People Who Would Reject a Direct Statement of the Problem Itself
3.3 Projecting the Result of an Accomplishment to Attract People Who Would
Be Frightened Away by the Work Implied to Achieve It 34 The List Never Ends
34 A Final Word on Style in Advertising Copy 35 3 THE SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR
M4RKET: HOW MANY PRODUCTS HAVE BEEN THERE BEFORE YOU? 37 If You Are First in
Your Market 37 If You’re Second, Do This 3.9 The Third Stage of Sophistication
41 The Fourth Stage 44 How to Revive a “’Dead” Product 45 Let’s Look at an
Industry That Went Through All Five Stages of Sophistication 46 A Personal
Note 50 4 38 WAYS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR HEADLINE ONCE YOU HAVE YOUR BASIC D3EA
51 5 SUMMARY: THE ART OF CREATIVE PLANNING— HOW TO MAKE AN IDEA GROW 59 The
Three Levels of Creativity 5.9 On Motivation Research and Its Relation to the
Copy Writer 61 On Expressing the Personality of a Product in Your Headline 63
On the Only Type of Prevention Headline That Will Sell 64 On the Selection of
Splinter Markets to Avoid Competition 65 In Summary 66 PART 2: THE SEVEN BASIC
TECHNIQUES OF BREAKTHROUGH ADVERTISING 69 6 INSDDE YOUR PROSPECT’S MIND—WHAT
MAKES PEOPLE READ, WANT, BELDZVE 71 Desires 72 Identifications 73 Beliefs 74

CONTENTS

7 THE FTRST TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: INTENSIFICATION 77 Thirteen Ways to
Strengthen Desire 77 Your First Presentation of Your Claims HO Put the Claims
in Action 83 Bring In the Reader 85 Show Him How to Test Your Claims 86 Stretch
Out Your Benefits in Time 87 Bring In an Audience 89 Show Experts Approving
90 Compare, Contrast, Prove Superiority 91 Picture the Black Side, Too 92 Show
How Easy It Is To Get These Benefits 94 Use Metaphor, Analogy. Imagination 94
Before You’re Done, Summarize 95 Put Your Guarantee to Work 99 How to Apply
These Principles of Intensification to the Campaign 8 THE SECOND TECHNIQUE
OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: IDENTIFICATION 107 How to Build a Saleable Personality
Into Your Product 107 A Personal Note 108 The Roles Your Prospect Desires
109 Character Roles 110 Achievement Roles 113 How to Put These Longings for
Identification to Work for Your Product 114 The Primary Image of Your Product
117 How to Build New Images Into Your Product 119 On the Limits to the Images
Your Prospects Will Identify With On Saleable Identifications Springing From
the Physical Product Itself 125 9 THE TfflRD TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY:
GRADUALIZATION 129 How to Make Your Prospect Believe Your Claims Before You
State Them 729 What Exactly Is Belief? 130 The Architecture of Belief 133

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124

CONTENTS

A New Definition of Awareness 134 A Detailed Example 135 How Belief Was
Built Into the Opening 137 Goal Conclusions 139 The Ultimate Objective 141
A Restatement of Our Basic Theory 144 The Inclusion Question 145 Detailed
Identification 145 Contradiction of Present (False) Beliefs 146 The Language
of Logic 147 Syllogistic Thinking 149 Other Belief Forms 150 10 THE FOURTH
TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: REDEFINITION 153 How to Remove Objections
to Your Product 153 Simplification 155 Escalation 160 Price Reduction 162 11
THE FIFTH TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: MECHANIZATION 165 How to Verbally
Prove That Your Product Does What You Claim 165 Verbal Proof 167 Stage One:
Name the Mechanism 167 Stage Two: Describe the Mechanism 168 Stage Three:
Feature the Mechanism 170 On the Importance of Mechanism When You Want to
Convince Your Reader That You’re Giving Him a Bargain 12 THE SIXTH TECHNIQUE
OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: CONCENTRATION 175 How to Destroy Alternate Ways for
Your Prospect to Satisfy His Desire 175 What Concentration Is 177 Let’s See
How He Does It 179 A Second Strategy 181 One Final Word on Concentration 184

171

CONTENTS

13 THE SEVENTH TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: CAMOUFLAGE 185 How to
Borrow Conviction for Your Copy 185 Let’s Look at a Few Examples 186 The
Second Way to Borrow Believability 190 Believability-Borrowing Strategy #3
191 14 THE FINAL TOUCHES 195 Verification—How to Offer Authorities and
Proof 196 Reinforcement—How to Make Two Claims Do the Work of Four 200
Interweaving—How to Blend Emotion, Image and Logic Into the Same Sentence
202 Sensitivity—How to Give Your Reader What He Demands Step by Step
Throughout the Copy 20o Sample Ad #1 206 Sample Ad #2 210 Sample Ad #3 210
Sample Ad #4 211 See How the Structure Differs 214 Momentum—How to Draw
Your Reader Deeper and Deeper Into Your Copy 215 Mood—How to Pack Your
Copy With Drama, Excitement, Sincerity or Any Other Emotion You Wish 222
EPTLOGUE-A COPY WRITER’S LIBRARY 227 INDEX 229

PARTI THE BASIC STRATEGY OF PERSUASION How to write a winning headline that
no one has ever written before

1 MASS DESIRE: THE FORCE THAT MAKES ADVERTISING WORK —AND HOW TO FOCUS
IT ONTO YOUR PRODUCT

Let’s get right down to the heart of the matter. The power, the force, the
overwhelming urge to own that makes advertising work, comes from the market
itself, and not from the copy. Copy cannot create desire for a product.
It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist in
the hearts of millions of people, and focus those alreadyexisting desires
onto a particular product. This is the copy writer’s task: not to create
this mass desire—but to channel and direct it. Actually, it would be
impossible for any one advertiser to spend enough money to actually create
this mass desire. He can only exploit it. And he dies when he tries to run
against it. This has been shown time and time again in the automotive field,
for example. In 1948, in order to display their rising standard of living,
the American public decided they wanted a longer, lower, wider car. Chrysler
chose to buck the trend; and offered a

4

MASS DESIRE: T H E FORCE THAT MAKES ADVERTISING WORK

fine, functional car—with more head, leg and shoulder room on the
inside—but shorter and squatter on the outside. A multimillion-dollar
campaign was prepared bv one of the most creative agencies in America. But
the results—against the tide of mass desire—were catastrophic. In 1954,
cars had become universallv long; and drivers were appraising each other’s car
in terms of horsepower. Here was the rise to dominance of a vast new public
demand. The Twin-H Hudson Hornet, the twin-exhaust Cadillac, the Chrysler
300—all in turn exploited this trend, and rode it to gain millions of
dollars in extra sales. The Ford Company decided to plav it down, and devoted
millions of advertising dollars to sell safety. Again, the advertising ran
into a wall of disinterest: results were nonexistent; and the next year Ford
produced, and advertised, the highest-horsepower engines in their history YVut
perhaps \Vie most pamTu\ prooY was the Edsel. H e r e was a good car, backed
by a deluge of fhu< advertising, that died trying to fight the overwhelming
switch in demand to a cheap, simple, inexpensive-to-run compact car. Let me
repeat. This mass desire must already be there. It must already exist. You
cannot create it. and vou cannot fight it. But you can—and must—direct
it, channel it. focus it onto your particular product.

What Is This Mass Desire—and How Is It Created? We can define this Mass
Desire quite simply. It is the public spread of a private want. Advertising is
a business of statistics. We deal with percentages of population. We address
our ads to individuals; and yet the success of our advertising depends on
thousands, or even millions, of these individuals sharing the same response
to these ads—the response of wanting our product enough to pav us the
price we ask for it.

MASS DESIRE: T H E FORCE THAT MAKES ADVERTISING WORK

5

Before these individuals can share this buying response, they must first share
the desire upon which our ad is based. Privately, each of them wants the same
thing. Puhliclx. there are enough of them to repay us the cost of advertising,
manufacturing and selling, plus a profit. It is the moment alien a private
desire is shared by a statistically significant number of people, large
enough to profitably repay selling these people, that a market is born. This
market mav consist of a desire shared by only a few thousand people, such
as the urge to own fine antiques. Or it may be shared by tens of millions,
as the desire to lose weight. But it is there, demanding to be satisfied,
waiting only for the information that will direct it onto a particular product.
Since these mass desires are shared bv millions of people. they take years to
develop, and thev are created b\ social, economic and technological forces
far greater than advertising itself can command. It is this fact, when
used correctly that gives advertising its enormous potential for profit. Bv
simplv directing this gigantic, already-existing mass desire—rather than
being required to create it—advertising thus commands an economic force
hundreds of times more poiveifnl Hum the mere number of dollars that the
advertiser can spend on it. This is the Amplification Effect of successful
advertising—the reason that $1 spent on such advertising can create 850
or even SI00 in sales. But this Amplification Effect takes place only
when advertising exploits already-existing desire. When it tries to create
this desire, it is no longer advertising but education. And, as education.
it can produce at best only one dollar in sales for every dollar spent on
advertising. No single advertiser can afford to educate the American public. He
must rely on forces far greater than any advertising budget to build this mass
desire. And then he can make those forces work for him—by directing that
desire onto his particular product. What are these nation-wide forces that
create this mass desire? There are many of them. But they fall into two general

6

MASS DESIRE: T H E FORCE THAT MAKES ADVERTISING WORK

categories—each presenting its distinct problem to the copy writer.
Here are these two categories, with a few specific examples of each.
1. Permanent Forces Mass Instinct. The desire of women to be attractive, or
men to be virile, or men and women both to keep their health. In this case,
the instinct never fades—the desire never changes. The copy writer’s
problem here is not to pick out the trend—it is there for everyone to
see. His job is to distinguish his product from the others that were there
before it—to create a fresh appeal—to build a stronger believabilitv—to
shift desire from the fulfillment offered by one product to that offered bv
another. How this is done, we shall see in a moment. A mass technological
problem. Bad television reception, or corroding automobile mufflers, or the
time it takes for aspirin to bring relief. Until the problem is finallv
solved, the customers will buy and try—buy and try again. And here the
copy writer has the same problem—to offer the same claim of relief as
his competitors, but offer it in a new way. 2. The Forces of Change The
beginning, the fulfillment, and the reversal of a trend. Style. The sudden
mass decision to show off a pay raise bv installing a swimming pool in the
back yard, instead of buying a bigger car. The horsepower appeal of the
Fifties, and its sudden subordination to gas economy. Here the copv writer
is dealing with the straws in the wind that may indicate a hurricane. Here
he needs sensitivity, foresight, intuition. He must be able to see and catch
the rising tide when it’s almost imperceptible—sense which of the several
appeals that are built into his product he should stress at any particular
moment, and when to shift to another—and, always, how to be there first.

MASS DESIRE: T H E FORCE THAT MAKES ADVERTISING WORK

Mass Education. The school primer and the movie screen. The tastes and
appearances of society women, television stars, presidential candidates,
trickling down to every hamlet in America. Group pressure; back-yard
gossip; community product pioneers. And equally important, the sum total
of all advertising—in its unconscious, unplanned and overall effect of
multiplying people’s dreams and desires, and thus raising their standard
of living. Here again the problem is timing. When does the shift become
statistically significant? When do enough people make the change? When should
the automotive powerhouse, for example, change its image to become the common
man’s gas saver? The copy writer is faced with a society containing dozens—
even hundreds—of these already-existing mass desires. His first joh therefore
is to detect them—inventory them—chart their force and direction. This is
a study that will occupy part of every working dav for the rest of his life.
His second job is to harness his products onto their backs. He does this in
this wav: How to Channel Mass Desire Onto Your Particular Product The copy
writer in his work uses three tools: his own knowledge of people’s hopes,
dreams, desires and emotions; his client’s product; and the advertising
message, which connects the two. The copy writer performs his work in three
stages. In general, thev go something like this: 1. Choose the most powerful
desire that can possibly he applied to your product. Every mass desire has
three vital dimensions. The first is urgency, intensity, degree of demand
to be satisfied. For example, constant arthritic pains compared to a minor
headache. The second dimension is staving power, degree of repetition, the
inability to become satiated. For example, raw hunger compared to a craving
for gourmet foods. And the third dimension is scope—

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MASS DESIRE: T H E FORCE THAT MAKES ADVERTISING WORK

the number of people who share this desire. For example, the number of men
willing to pay $10 for an automotive accessorv that saves gas—as compared
to those willing to pav the same price for one that merely prevents future
repair bills. Every product appeals to two, three or four of these mass
desires. But only one can predominate; onlv one can reach out through your
headline to your customer. Only one is the key that unlocks the maximum
economic power at the particular time your advertisement is published. Your
choice among these alternate desires is the most important step yon will take
in writing your ad. If it is wrong, nothing else that you do in the ad will
matter. This choice is embodied in your headline. It is for this reason that we
spend so many chapters on headlines later on. To sum up the first stage then,
you trv to choose the mass desire that gives you the most power in all three
dimensions. You try to tap a single overwhelming desire existing today in the
hearts and minds of millions of people who are actively seeking to satisfy it
at this verv moment. 2. Acknowledge that desire—reinforce it—and/or offer
the means to satisfy it—in a single statement in the headline of your ad.
This headline is the bridge between vour prospect and your product. It touches
your prospect at the point of awareness that he has arrived at today. If
he is aware of vour product, and realizes that it can satisfy his desire,
vour headline starts with vour product. If he is not aware of your product,
but only of the desire itself, your headline starts with the desire. And,
if he is not yet aware of what he really seeks, but is concerned only with
a general problem, your headline starts with that problem and crystallizes
it into a specific need. In any case, your headline—though it mav never
mention your product—is the first vital step in recognizing this mass
desire—justifying and intensifying it—and directing its solution along
one specific path. 3. And then you take the series of performances that are

MASS DESIRE: T H E FORCE THAT MAKES ADVERTISING WORK

9

built into your product—what your product does—and you show your prospect
how these product performances inevitably satisfy that desire. Here’s how:
The Analysis of Your Product: What It Is—and What It D o e s In reality,
every product vou are given to sell is actually two products. One of them is
the physical product—the steel, glass, paper or tobacco that the manufacturer
has shaped into a particular pattern, of which he is justly proud. The other
is the functional product—the product in action—the series of benefits
that vour product performs for vour consumer, and on the basis of which
he buys vour product. The physical product does not sell. People do not
buy the steel in a car, the glass in a vase, the tobacco in a cigarette,
or the paper in a book. The physical part of your product is of value only
because it enables your product to do things for people. The important part of
your product is what it does. The rest—the steel skeleton—the chrome or
metal case that vou actually deliver to your customer—is only your excuse
for charging them your price. What they are reallv paying you for is what
the product will do. No physical part of vour product can ever become a
headline. No one will buy the size of vour clients plant, the weight of vour
client’s steel, the care of vour client’s construction. All these facts can
only be used, later on. to document and reinforce the primary performance
that vou promise your reader in your headline, in the following wavs: By
justifying your price. This is the common-sense theory that the longer the
car, the more tubes in the television set, the more stitches per inch in the
suit, then the greater the number of dollars your product can command—if
that product first delivers the performance that your prospect demands.
By documenting the quality of your performance. Tell your

10

MASS DESIRE: T H E F O R C E THAT MAKES ADVERTISING WORK

prospect the weight of steel in vour car’s door, and he’s more likely to
believe that your car will protect his life if he should have an accident on
the highway. Tell vour prospect the number of times your plant removes the
impurities in vour face cream, and she’s more likely to believe that vour
cream will remove the impurities in her skin. By assuring your prospect that
that performance will continue throughout the years. Ceramic mufflers mean no
repair bills for the life of your car. Chemically-protected paper means you
can hand your prize books down to vour children. Quick-frozen food means vou
can retain taste and vitamins for months after your purchase. By sharpening
the reader’s mental picture of that performance. The Rolls-Royce must give vou
perfect riding silence because every metal part of the chassis is shielded from
every other metal part by a protective coat of rubber. Helena Rubenstein’s
new face cream must make your skin look younger because it contains the
placenta of living animals. And, above all, by giving your product’s
claim of performance afresh new basis for believability. This is the most
important use of the physical product in fields where a new firm or product
is attempting to invade an established Mass Instinct field. Others have made
the same claim before. Your product, in order to pull sales awav from them,
must introduce a new mechanism that performs the claim, or a new quality
that assures its performance, or a new freedom from old limitations that
improves the performance. This is the point of difference—often conceived
by the copy writer, and built bv the manufacturer into the product at his
recommendation. We shall discuss this point of difference quite thoroughly
in the next few chapters. So much for the physical product. It is always
subordinated to the functional product—the product in action—what the
product does. It is the performance of your product, satisfying the mass
desire of your market, that provides the selling power of your ad.

MASS DESIRE: T H E FORCE THAT MAKES ADVERTISING WORK

11

Your first task, then, in studying your product, is to list the number of
different performances it contains—to group these performances against
the mass desires that each of them satisfies—and then to feature the
one performance that will harness the greatest sales power onto vour
product at that particular time. Take the automobile, for example. Every
automobile offers its prospective owner several different and distinct sets of
performances: It offers him transportation. The ability to carry himself, his
family, his luggage, and perhaps tin the case of station wagons) his pets and
his furniture from place to place. It offers him dependability. The freedom
from breakdown, stalling, poor performance, repair bills, embarrassment
and inconvenience. It offers him economy. Inexpensive transportation:
savings in both gas and oil; freedom from repair bills, seen this time
from the point of view of the pocket book: durability high trade-in value,
low insurance cost. It offers him power. Number of horses at his command;
takeoff at the lights: acceleration on hills and in traffic; top speed, even
if he never uses it. All adding up to a feeling of dominance on the highway.
It offers him recognition. Admiration, status, subtle and accepted bragging,
envy, the feeling of having arrived. The ohs and ahs of his neighbors,
the first ride, the very smell of a new car. It offers him value. The
number of feet of steel he can command for the price. High trade-in value
over the years. The fact that the car can last for 100,000 miles, even if
he can afford to trade it in every year. It offers him novelty: Power
steering five vears ago—electric door locks todav. Three-tone paint
jobs vesterdav—iridescent paints now. The thrill of being the leader,
the pace-setter, the proven pioneer. And man\- more. Some of them hidden,
never admitted, discovered only recently bv motivation research. Dozens of

VZ

MASS

DESIRE: T H E FORCE THAT MAKES ADVERTISING WORK

different performances, built into the same product, each of them reaching
out and tapping a different desire—a distinct public. And yet your ad
can feature onlv one of these performances; can effectively tap only one
mass desire at a time. Your headline is limited by physical space. You have
onlv one glance of the reader’s eye to stop him. He is preoccupiedhe is not
looking for your product or your message—the span of his attention will
admit only one thought to penetrate his indifference during that glance.
If your first thought holds him. he will read the second. If the second
holds him, he will read the third. And if the third thought holds him,
he will probably read through your ad. Every product gives you dozens of
keys. But onlv one will fit the lock. Your job is to find that one dominant
performance squeeze every drop of power out of it in your presentation—and
then convince your reader that that performance and that satisfaction can come
onlv from your product. The next four chapters will show von how to locate
that one dominant performance, and how to fasliion it into vour headline.
Once you have written that headline, then even other performance contained
in your product simply reinforces and documents that main appeal, in exactly
the same wav as the physical product facts listed above.

2 YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS—HOW TO CAPITALIZE ON IT W H E N YOU
WRITE YOUR HEADLINE

You have now completed the first two stages in writing your ad. You have
defined the mass desire that makes up your market—for example, the desire
to lose weight, shared by millions of women all over America. And you have
selected the one performance in vour product that satisfies that desire
most deeply—for example, a liquid meal in a glass, delicious, filling,
already measured for you. as easy and pleasant to drink as a chocolate malted.
This definition of vour market, and the selection of the product performance
most likely to capture that market, forms the core concept, or theme, of
vour ad. You now know where you are going to start—with your market; and
where you are going to end—with your product. The bridge between these
two—their meeting place—is your ad. Your ad always begins with your
market, and leads that 13

14

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

market inevitably into your product. The beginning of vour ad— your
headline—is the first step in this process. Therefore it concerns itself
entirely with your market. It mav never even mention your product or its
performance. It is based entirely on the answer to these three questions:
1. What is the mass desire that creates this market? (Which we have already
discovered.) 2. How much do these people know today about the way your
product satisfies this desire? (Their State of Awareness.) 3. How many
other products have been presented to them before yours? (Their State
of Sophistication. The answer to question 1 gives von the nation-wide
force that creates your market. The answer to questions 2 and 3 gives you
the location of that market in relation to vour product. Your strategy for
exploiting or overcoming the answers to these last two questions will give
you the content of vour headline. Let’s first re-define the job we are going
to ask our headline to do, and then see how each of these last two questions
tells us what that headline should—and should not—saw

Your Headline’s Real Job There has been much confusion about how much of a
selling job your headline should be required to do. Actually, your headline
does not need to sell at all. It does not have to mention your product. It
does not even have to mention vour main appeal. To demand that a headline
should do any of these is to place the full selling burden on approximately
10% to 20% of the total physical space of your ad . . . that physical space
taken up by the headline itself. Your headline has only one job—to stop
your prospect and compel him to read the second sentence of your ad. In
exactly the same way, your second sentence has only one job—to force him
to read the third sentence of vour ad. And the third sentence

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

15

—and every additional sentence in your ad—has exactly the same job.
It is simply common sense that the more of vour storv vou can force your
prospect to read, the more thoroughly you can sell him. To attempt to do the
same selling job in ten words, instead of a hundred, or a thousand, is to
shoot craps with vour clients money. You might as well bnv only enough space
to print vour headline, and use the rest of the budget for repeat insertions.
It is the copy writer’s job to force the prospect to read his client’s full
story—not just a skimmed version of it. Only to prospects actively seeking
the client’s specific brand-name product, and in a case where you can offer
them a special price reduction, can your headline do the full selling job. To
attempt a complete selling job with anv other kind of headline is simply to
admit defeat.

What Your Prospect’s State of Awareness Demands From Your Headline We have
already assumed that the only reader you are looking for is the prospect for
vour product. That means that he shares a defined desire with thousands,
and perhaps even millions, of other people all over America. But how much
aware is that prospect of that desire? How close is it to the surface
of his consciousness? Is he aware only that a problem or need exists, or
is he aware if they can be satisfied? And if he is aware that a means of
satisfaction exists, does he realize that it lies in your iiroup of products,
or specifically in your product by name, or more specifically in your product
at a given price? The answer to these questions will help you determine the
State of Awareness of your market—their present state of knowledge about
your product and the satisfaction that your product performs. It is at this
precise point of awareness that vour headline begins.

16

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

In its natural development, everv market’s awareness passes through several
stages. The more aware your market, the easier the selling job, the less vou
need to sav. Let’s go down the awareness scale step by step. We’ll start at
the Most Aware—the most mechanical selling job—and proceed to more and
more difficult problems, requiring more and more creative solutions. 1. The
Most Aware The customer knows of your product—knows what it does— knows he
wants it. At this point, he just hasn’t gotten around to buying it yet. Your
headline—in fact, vour entire ad—need state little more except the name of
your product and a bargain price. For example: “Revere Zomar Lens, Electric
Eve Camera—Formerly $149.50—Now Only $119.95.” The remainder of the
advertisement can summarize quicklv the most desirable selling points. Then add
the name of a store, or a coupon, and close. This is the typical department
store, discount store, mailorder-bargain-catalog type of advertising. It takes
advantage of the full weight of all the advertising that has been done on the
same product before it. Its addition—its news—is the price—or a free
gift—or instant delivery—or proximity in the neighborhood. Its prospect
is fully aware—he has all the information he needs. Here the copy writer
is nothing more than the merchandise manager’s phrase-maker. The price is the
most important part of his headline. There is nothing creative about his job,
and he should receive the lowest possible scale of pav. 2. The Customer Knows
of the Product But Doesn’t Yet Want It Here, your prospect isn’t completely
aware of all your product does, or isn’t convinced of how well it does it,
or hasn’t yet been told how much better it does it now.

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

17

Here—in the approach to this market—is the great bulk of all
advertising. Here you are dealing with a product which is known—which
has established a brand name—which has alreadylinked itself with an
acknowledged public desire, and has proven that it satisfied that desire.
Here vour headline is faced with one of seven tasks: (a) To reinforce
your prospects desire for your product: (b) To sharpen his image of the
way vour product satisfies that desire; © To extend his image of where
and when vour product satisfies that desire; (d) To introduce new proof,
details, documentation of how well vour product satisfies that desire;
(e) To announce a new mechanism in that product to enable it to satisfy
that desire e\-en better; (f) To announce a new mechanism in vour product
that eliminates former limitations; (g) Or to completely change the image
or the mechanism of that product, in order to remove it from the competition
of other products claiming to satisfy the same desire. In all seven cases,
the approach is the same. You display the name of the product—either in the
headline or in an equally large logo—and use the remainder of the headline to
point out its superioritv. The body of the ad is then an elaboration of that
superiority—including visualization, documentation, mechanization. When
you have finished weaving in everv strand of vour product’s superiority7,
your ad is done. Here are sample headlines presenting solutions to all seven
of the problems of this state of awareness: (a) To reinforce your prospect’s
desire for your product— bv using: ASSOCIATION:

“Steinway—The Instrument of the Immortals.” “Jov—The Costliest Perfume
in the World.”

18

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS EXAMPLE:

“Which Twin Has the Toni?” “Hair Coloring So Natural Only Her Hairdresser
Knows For Sure—Miss Clairol.” SENSORY SHARPEN I \ 0 :

“Tastes like you just picked it—Dole.” “The skin YOU love to
touch—Woodbury” ILLUSTRATION:

(Anyone of the thousands of superb pictorial ads in the food, fashion,
cosmetic, jewelry and similar industries. Perhaps best summed up by Life
Saver’s classic headline. “Please don’t lick this page.”) (b) To sharpen
your prospect’s image of the way your product satisfies that desire (Much
like the sensory shaipening illustrated above; but concentrating here on
the physical product itself, or on the mechanism bv which it works): “At 60
miles an hour, the loudest noise in a Rolls Royee is the electric clock.”
“The amazing story of a Zippo that worked after being taken from the bellv
of a fish.” © To extend his image of where and when satisfies that desire:

your product

“Anywhere you go. Hertz is always nearby” “Thirst knows no season”—in
a winter ad, at a time when cold drinks were only consumed during the
summer—"Coca Cola." (d) To introduce new proof, details, 11 your product
satisfies that desire: we,

documentation

“9 out of 10 screen stars use Lux Toilet Soap for their priceless smooth
skins.”

of how

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

19

“Jake La Motta, 160-lb fighter, fails to flatten Mono paper cup.” “In Boston,
the #1 tea-drinking citv, the #1 tea is Salada.” (e) To announce a new
mechanism in that product to enable it to satisfy that desire even better:
“Hoovers new invention washes floors and vacuums up the scrub water.”
“Worlds only dog food that makes its own gravy— Gaines Graw Train.”
(f) To announce a new mechanism in i/onr product that eliminates former
limitations: “You breathe no dustv odors when YOU do it with Lewvt.” “A new
Zenith hearing aid—inconspicuous beyond belief.” (g) Or to completely
change the image or the mechanism of the product, in order to remove it
from the competition of other products claiming to satisfy the same desire.
Here we are dealing with the State of Sophistication of our market—the
amount of exposure they have already had to similar products. Every product
during its life history encounters this problem. All of Chapter 3 will be
devoted to some of the approaches to its solution. We now move on to the
less aware markets—with their more difficult copv challenges, and their
greater demand for the unprecedented. 3. How to Introduce N e w Products
The prospect either knows, or recognizes immediately, that he wants what
the product does; but he doesn’t yet know’ that there is a product—your
product—that will do it for him.

20

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

Here the problem is two-fold. First, to pinpoint the illdefined,
as-vet-uncrvstallized desire that is slowly spreading through great masses
of people all over America. And second, to crystallize that desire, and its
solution, so sharplv and so dramatically that each and every prospect will
recognize it at a glance. The three steps in the process are simple. Name the
desire and/or its solution in vour headline. Prove that that solution can be
accomplished. And show that the mechanism of that accomplishment is contained
in vour product. However, starting with a market in this still-amorphous state
of awareness, and continuing with each of the more difficult challenges to
come, the execution becomes more and more important than the mechanics. Here
the eopv writer contributes more and more to the value of the product in the
public eve, and to its total volume of sales. Here the innovator comes into
play. Here the ratio of salary of copy writer to production supervisor shoots
up abruptly. For this is the domain of the idea man. What are the attributes
he needs 0 First, analysis. As a copy writer vou will find it necessary to
define the particular market most receptive to vour product, its location
in relation to your product in terms of awareness and sophistication,
and the driving emotional forces that have created both that market and
the potential for the sales of vour product within it. Second, intuition,
which may be described as the ability to sense a trend at its start, gauge
its force and direction, determine the precise moment when it burgeons into
a profitable market. And third, verbal creativity, as discussed in the
next three chapters, and throughout the rest of the book. The ability to
give a name to the still-undefined. To capture a feeling, a hope, a desire,
a fear in words. To create a catchword or a slogan. To focus emotion, and
give it a goal. Let us see how great writers in the past have taken these

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

21

amorphous desires, and brought them into razor-sharp focus in a single
statement in their headline: “Light a Lucky, and vou’ll never miss sweets
that make you fat.” “Who else wants a whiter wash—with no hard work’:”"
“How to win friends and influence people. "To men who want to cjuit work
some day. "When doctors feel rotten—this is what they do.’ "Now! Run your
car without spark plugs’’ "Who ever heard of 17,000 />/<>om* ironi a single
plant 0 " And dozens more. Here, amorphous desire has been crystallized in the
headline. Then sharpened and expanded in the first few paragraphs; satisfied
and documented in the body of the ad: and focussed inevitably on the product
throughout. Sometimes the simplest statement of the desire is the best.
“How to win friends and influence people” needs no verbal twist to increase
its impact. At other times, the desire itself must be reinforced by fresh
proof that it can be achieved, “When doctors feel rotten—this is what they
do”. Or by mystery, “Now! Run your car without spark plugs!” Or by wonderment,
“Who ever heard of 17,000 blooms from a single plant?”. The next two chapters
will discuss, first, the strategy of determining when to use a fresh approach;
and second, how- to sharpen that first statement of desire with verbalization.

4. H o w to Introduce Products That Solve Needs The prospect has—not a
desire—but a need. He recognizes the need immediately. But he doesn’t yet
realize the connection between the fulfillment of that need and your product.
This is the problem-solving ad. It might be thought of as a special case of
the desire ad mentioned above, since the tech-

’Z’Z

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

nique of writing it is so similar. H e r e you start need and/or its solution
in your headline. Then need so vividly that the prospect realizes just how
the solution. And then present your product as solution.

bv naming the dramatize the badlv he needs the inevitable

Again, this type of ad runs from the most naked statement of the need alone, to
the most complicated verbal twists to bring it to the peak of impact. To start
at the beginning, the most effective possible headline for your particular
problem mav be as simple as this: “Corns?” Here, only the problem itself
is mentioned—nothing more. Or it may be necessary to state both problem
and solution immediately: “Stops maddening itch.” Many headlines in this
category promise the removal of previously unconquerable limitations. They are
especially popular in catalog selling: “Lets portable transistor radios play
on ordinary household current.” And many combine all three elements—the
problem, its solution, and the removal of the usually expected limitations:
“Shrinks hemorrhoids without surgerv.” There are headlines which promise
substitutes for unpleasant or expensive tasks: “Now! A ring and piston job
in a tube!”

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

^o

And there are headlines which promise to prevent a future problem, before it
can occur: “Look, Mom! No cavities!” But many times the problem is not so
clearly defined, not so obviously on the surface. You may know the general
area of the problem—for example, people’s embarrassment at speaking poor
English. But you may not be sure of which avenue is the most effective
in reaching them. Here the emphasis of a single w o r d—the emotional
sharpening of an already easily-identified image—provides the answer:
“Do YOU make these mistakes in English0” And, where the solution to the
need has been promised before—where the direct statement of the solution
has lost its force and freshness—then verbal twists are needed to restore
that novelty: “How a bald-headed barber helped save my hair.”

5. How to Open Up a Completely Unaware Market And finally—the most
difficult. The prospect is either not aware of his desire or his need—or
he won’t honestly admit it to himself without being lead into it by your
ad—or the need is so general and amorphous that it resists being summed
up in a single headline—or it’s a secret that just can’t be verbalized.
This is the outer reach of the awareness scale. These are the people who are
still the logical prospects for your product; and vet, in their own minds,
they are hundreds of miles away from accepting that product. It is your job
to bridge that gap. Let me repeat what I said when we first began to explore
these five stages of awareness. Each of these stages is separated from the
others by a psychological wall. On one side of that wall is indifference;
on the other, intense interest. A headline that

24 YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

will work wonders in the first stage-for example, "Dial Soap-90 a cake
- w i l l fail completely when addressed to a third-stage market where
your prospect doesn’t even realize that soaps can be made with built-in
deodorants. And a third-stage headlinefor example “Who else wants a whiter
wash with no hard work?” – w i l l be old-hat, no-news to todays housewife,
who has been barraged by whiter-than-white advertising for twenty years To sum
up, then.- a headline which will work to’a market in one stage of awareness
will not work to a market in another stage of awareness. Nor will it work,
even to a market in which it has been successful, once that market passes
on to a new stage b ot awareness. Most products are designed to satisfy a
specific need or desire. They are born into markets that are m at least the
third or fourth stages of awareness. They may therefore never be faced with
the problem of an unaware market. However, many products actually pass out
of public awareness or out of public acceptance-at some time or other during
their hfe histories. The desire they satisfy dries up, or other products
serve it better, or they are branded "old-fashioned " Again, we are dealing
with a matter of statistics. When a product begins to slip . . . when volume
falls off, even though advertising budgets are increased . . . when the
name of the product no longer sells as much . . . when a direct statement
of the product s function no longer sells as much . . . when a direct
statement of the desire or the need that the product fulfills no longer
sells as much-then that product needs to be reborn, and its problem is the
problem of opening up an unatvare market Again, this is the most difficult,
the most challenging probem of a 1. There are few positive milestones to
guide vou But fortunately there are some completely self-evident negative
rules that can eliminate many blind alleys, and set you face to face against
your task. Planning a headline for a completely unaware or resistant market,
then, is first of all a process of elimination’ Here are the first paths:

25 YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

1. Price means nothing to a person who does not know your product, or want
your product. Therefore, eliminate all mention of price, or price reduction,
in your headline or prime display type. 2. The name of vour product means
nothing to a person who has never seen it’before, and may actually damage your
ad if you have had a bad model the year before, or if it is now associated
with the antiquated, the unfashionable, or the unpleasant. Therefore, keep
vour product out of the headline, and be extremely wary about’breaking the
mood or disguise of your ad with a prominent logo. 3. And this is the hardest
fact of all to accept. At this stage of your market, a direct statement of
what your product does, what desire it satisfies, or what problem it sokes,
simply will not work. Your product either has not reached that direct stage,
or has passed beyond it. And vou cannot simply shift from one desire to
another. You are not faced here with a problem of sophistication, but one
of complete indifference, or unacceptability. Therefore, the performance of
vour product, and the desire it’satisfies, can only be brought in later. You
cannot mention them in vour headline. ’ So vou cannot mention price, product,
function or desire. What do vou have left? Your market, of course! And the
distinct possibility that by broadening vour appeal beyond price, product
function or specific desire, vou can reach the maximum limits of your full
potential market; consolidate splinter appeals; and increase the sales of
vour product at a fantastic rate. Once you have accepted the challenge of
writing this kind of ad, then vour product and its attributes fade into the
background, and’you concentrate exclusively on the state of mind of vour
market at this particular moment. ’ What vou are doing essentially in this
fifth stage is calling uour market together in the headline of your ad. You
are writing an identification headline. You are selling nothing, promising
nothing, satisfying nothing. Instead, you are echoing an emotion,

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

an attitude, a ^satisfaction that picks people out from the crowd and binds
them together in a single statement. In this type of headline, you are
telling them what thev are You are defining them for themselves. You are
giving them the information they need and want, about a problem still so
vague that you are the first to put it into words. Here, above all, is the
type of headline that never attempts to sell a product or a performance,
but simplv tries to sell the remainder of the ad itself—the information
that follows on the page. The only function of this headline is to get the
prospect to read the next paragraph. And this second paragraph pulls him
into the third; and the third into the fourth: and right on down the page,
paragraph after paragraph. Meanwhile these paragraphs are building a steady
progression of logical images, from the first identification with’the headline,
to a growing awareness of the problem or the desire to the realization that a
solution is at hand, and to the inevitable focussing of that desire and that
solution onto your particular product. This, then, is the general strategy
of dealing with an unaware market. The application of this strategy, when
all direct methods have failed, has produced hundreds of great headlines. It
would be impossible to classify all of them, since each solution establishes
its own new pattern. However, there are definite landmarks and directions we
can distinguish. Here are some of them—starting with the general principle
they used, then the problem thev solved, then the headline itself, and then
the most important structural paragraph of body copy:

Giving Words to a Hidden Dream Problem: to expand the market for home
correspondence courses beyond that obtained by “Earn more money” and “Gain
more skill” headlines. The solution:

27

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

THE UNIVERSITY OF THE NIGHT The voung Lincoln, poring over borrowed
school-books far into the night—seeking in the dim light of bis log fire
the transforming light of knowledge—eager to grow—eager to do . . . here
is an example which has inspired the man who strives against the odds of
circumstances to make his place in the world. To-night, in cities and towns
and villages . . . thousands of men will drop their daily labors to fight,
beneath the lamp, the battle that Lincoln fought. . . Up from the mines,
down from the masts of ships . . . from all the places where men work,
they will go home and take up their books because they yearn to grow,
because thev seek higher training, greater skill, more responsibility . . .
Some of them are men who work in one field whereas their talents and desires
are in another. Some . . . are halted in their progress because they do not
understand the higher principles of their business or profession. Some left
school in bovhood because poverty made it necessary . . . Fifty years ago
these men . . . would have had no place to turn for the courses of study and
for the personal guidance that they need. Thirty vears ago there was founded a
school to help them—a school created for their needs and circumstances— a
school that goes to them no matter where they are—a school. . . Created in
response to a need, the International Correspondence Schools have developed
their scope and usefulness to the growth of that need . . .

Exploiting a Hidden Fear Problem: To re-vitalize the sales of a coffee
substitute, long after health headlines and pep headlines and taste headlines
had failed. Secondary problem: To overcome a slipping brand name, that was
no longer an asset in either the headline or the logo. The solution:

28

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

WHY MEN CRACK.. . An authority of international standing recently wrote;
“You have overeaten and plugged vour organs with moderate stimulants, the
worst of which are not onlv alcohol and tobacco, but caffeine and sugar
. . . " You know them. Strong men. vigorous men, robust men—men who have
never had a sick dav in their lives. They drive. They drive themselves
to the limit. They lash themselves over the limit with stimulants. Thev
crack. Often, the\- crash. You have seen them afterwards. Pitiful
shells. The zest gone, the fire gone. Burnt-out furnaces of energy.
“He was such a healthy-looking man " He was. His health was his undoing. His
constitution absorbed punishment. Otherwise he might have been warned in time.
“For every action there is an equal and contrary reaction.” You learned the
law in physics. It applies to bodies. For every ounce of energy gained
bv stimulation, bv whipping the nerves to action, an ounce of reserve
strength is drained . . . But repeated withdrawals exhaust anv reserve.
Physical bankruptcy. Then the crash . . . It’s time to get back to normal,
to close the drafts, to bank some of the fires… Avoid stimulants. What is
good for the bov is good for the man . . . Borrowed Energy Must Be Repaid!
Two million American families avoid caffeine bv drinking Postum. And two
million American families are better off for it. . .

Leading Into an Unacceptable Problem by Starting With a Universally Accepted
Image Problem: To gain both publisher and prospect acceptance for a woman’s
deodorant. A direct statement of the performance or product would not only
offend, but would never be published. The solution:

YOUR PROSPECT S STATE OF AWARENESS

29

WITHIN THE CURVE OF A WOMAN’S ARM A frank discussion of a subject too
often avoided. A woman’s arm! Poets have sung of its grace: artists have
painted its beautv. It should be the daintiest, sweetest thing in the world.
And vet, unfortunatelv. it isn’t, alwavs. There’s an old offender in this
quest for perfect daintiness—an offender of which we ourselves niav be
ever so unconscious, but which is just as truly present. Shall we discuss
it frankly? Many a woman who savs, “No, I am never annoved by perspiration,”
does not know the facts . . . Of course, we aren’t to blame because nature
has made us so that the perspiration glands under the arms are more active
than anywhere else. Nor are we to blame because . . . have made normal
evaporation there impossible. Would you be absolutely sure of your daintiness?
It is the chemicals of the body, not uncleanliness, that cause odor. And even
though there is no active perspiration—no apparent moisture—there may be
under the arms an o d o r . . . Fastidious women who want to be absolutely
sure of their daintiness have found that thev could not trust to their own
consciousness; they have felt the need of a toilet water which would insure
them against any of this kind of underarm unpleasantness, either moisture
or odor. To meet this need, a physician formulated Odorono— a perfectly
harmless and delightful toilet water . . .

To Project a Hidden Desire Which Cannot Be Put Bluntly Into Words Problem: To
capitalize on research findings that smoking cigarettes gives men a feeling of
virilitv, importance, sexual strength. Any verbal expression of these themes,
however, would be instantly rejected as absurd and offensive. The solution:
The MARLBORO TATTOO AD: With its virile men (cowboys, racing car drivers,
sky divers, etc.) whose appearance alone

30

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

projected more of an image of raw virility than any number of words could ever
convev. Using a C o m m o n Resentment or Unvoiced Protest to Capture a Far
Greater Market Than the Direct Statement of the Solution of That Resentment
Would Produce Problem: To sell a do-it-yourself book on television repairs.
Although all owners of TV sets were the potential market, only a small fraction
considered themselves interested enough or capable enough to respond to a
direct promise headline: “Save up to $100 a year on your TV repairs!” Most were
afraid thev could not make the repairs themselves. Therefore, the market must
be broadened to include the nonhandvmen owners, bv exploiting the existing
resentment against TV s e n i c e contracts. The solution: WHY HAVEN’T TV
OWNERS BEEN TOLD THESE FACTS Was your set purchased after the spring of
1947? Then here is the full, uncensored storv of how- von can avoid those
$15-$20 repair bills—avoid those $30-860 a vear service fees—and still
get the perfect, movie-clear pictures you’ve dreamed about! How many times
this week have you had to get up to fix a jumpy TV picture? . . . How many
times have you had to put up with ghosts? . . . 90% of These Breakdowns
Are Unnecessary! All these breakdowns mav have seemed tragic to vou at
the moment they happened—but here is the real tragedy! Do you know that
the same exact set that vou now have in your front room . . . has been
playing in manufacturer’s test rooms for months—and playing perfectly!
These sets have been subjected to “Breakdown Tests” . . . These sets have
been tested against every conceivable type of viewing hazard . . . And,
in almost everyone of these cases, these sets have produced perfect, movie-

YOUR PROSPECT S STATE OF AWARENESS

clear pictures, without major breakdowns, for as much as one full vear! Here
are some of the reasons why: What TV Experts Have Learned About Your Set.
If your set were properly cared for, as these sets were . . . it need break
down only once during the entire year . . . If your set were properly cared
for, it can actually give you perfect, movie-clear reception the other 364
days of the year . . . And most important, these experts have discovered
that you do not have to be a handyman or a mechanic in order to coax this
performance . . . Here’s why: 5 Minutes a Week for Perfect Reception.
These TV experts have discovered that your TV set is a great deal like your
bod}’ in this respect—that it gives warning signals before it has a major
breakdown . . . Now, if you had the knowledge to make a few minor adjustments,
on the outside controls of that set, then you could correct those symptoms
. . . If you do not have this knowledge . . . then your set will weaken,
you will have a constantly bad picture . . . It’s as simple as that. You
pay a repairman—not for his work—but for his knowledge. If you had
that knowledge yourself—then you would not have to pav him at all . . .’
Now suppose that you had a TV expert at your elbow 24 hours a day. Suppose
that every time your set began to flicker, or jump . . . this expert would
show you exactly what knob on the outside of vour set vou could turn . . .
Suppose that every time you were annoyed bv ghosts . . . this expert would
show you a simple nonmechanical trick . . . Yes, and suppose that even when
your set went black, this expert could show you . . . All the Information
You Need About Your TV Set! This is exactly what a new book, the TELEVISION
OWNER’S GUIDE does for you . . .

32

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

Projecting an Ultimate Triumph That the Prospect Will Identify With Problem: To
sell music lessons by correspondence to a greater audience than would respond
to a direct “Plav Real Tunes on the Piano in Five Davs” approach. The solution:
THEY LAUGHED WHEN I SAT DOWN AT THE PIANO. BUT WHEN I STARTED TO PLAY!—
Arthur had just played “The Rosarv.” The room rang with applause. I decided
that this would he a dramatic moment for me to make my debut. To the amazement
of all my friends, I strode confidently over to the piano and sat down.
“Jack is up to his old tricks,” somebody chuckled. The crowd laughed . . .
“Can he really play?” I heard a girl whisper to Arthur. “Heavens, no!” Arthur
exclaimed. “He never plaved a note in his life. But you just watch him. This
is going to be good.” . . . Then I Started to Play. Instantly a tense
silence fell on the guests. The laughter died on their lips as if by magic
. . . I heard gasps of amazement. My friends sat breathless—spellbound.
I played on and on and as I plaved I forgot the people around me. I forgot
the hour, the place, the breathless listeners. The little world I lived
in seemed to fade—seemed to grow dim—unreal. Only the music was real
. . . It seemed as if the master musician himself were speaking to me . . .
not in words but in chords. Not in sentences but in exquisite melodies!
A Complete Triumph! As the last notes of the Moonlight Sonata died awav,
the room resounded with a sudden roar of applause. I found myself surrounded
by excited faces. How mv friends carried on! Men shook me by the hand—wildly
congratulated me—pounded me on the back with their enthusiasm! Everybody was
exclaiming with delight—plving me with

YOUR P R O S P E C T ’ S STATE OF AWARENESS

33

rapid questions . . . “Jack! Why didn’t you tell us you could
play like that?” . . . “Where did you learn?” . . . “How long have
you studied?” . . . “Who was your teacher?” “I have never even seen my
teacher,” I replied. “And just a short while ago I couldn’t even play a note.”
“Quit vour kidding,” laughed Arthur, himself an accomplished pianist. “You’ve
been studying for years. I can tell.” “I have been studying only a short
while,” I insisted. “I decided to keep it a secret ’so I could surprise
all you folks.” Then I told them the whole story “Have vou ever heard of
the U.S. School of Music?” T ’ISKPQ

A few of my friends nodded. “That’s a correspondence school, isn’t it’3”
thev exclaimed. “Exactly,” I replied. “They have a new simplified method
that can teach you to play any instrument by mail in just a few short
months.” . . . Projecting the Result of a Problem in Such a Way That It
Will Be Identified With by People Who Would Reject a Direct Statement of the
Problem Itself Problem: To increase the sales of a mouthwash, not only on a
germ theme (which could be immediately accepted), but on the more universal
social-offense theme, which would be rejected in its direct form. The idea
of bad breath was too insulting to be taken by the public “straight.” The
solution: OFTEN A BRIDESMAID BUT NEVER A BRIDE Edna’s case was really a
pathetic one. Like every woman, her primary ambition was to marry. Most of
the girls in her set were married—or about to be. Yet no one possessed
more charm or grace or loveliness than she. And as her birthdays crept
gradually toward that tragic thirtv-mark, marriage seemed farther from her
life than ever. She was often a bridesmaid but never a bride.

34

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE O F AWARENESS

That’s the insidious thing about halitosis (unpleasant breath). You, yourself
rarely know when vou have it. And even your closest friends won’t tell vou.
Sometimes, of course, halitosis comes from some deepseated organic disorder
that requires professional advice. But usually—and fortunately—halitosis
is onlv a local condition that yields to the regular use of Listerine as
a mouth wash and gargle. It is an interesting thing that this wellknown
antiseptic that has been in use for \ ears for surgical dressings, possesses
these unusual properties as a breath deodorant… Projecting the Result
of an Accomplishment to Attract People Who Would Be Frightened Away by
the Work Implied to Achieve It Problem: To broaden the market for home
correspondence courses, beyond that possible with a direct statement of the
immediate result—learning or skill. An attempt must be made to direct the
prospect’s mind away from effort, to reward. The solution: “HERE’S AN EXTRA
$50, GRACE—” ’7’m making real money now!" “Yes, I’ve been keeping it a
secret until pav day came. I’ve been promoted with an increase of $50 a
month. And the first extra money is yours. Just a little reward for urging
me to study at home. The boss saws mv spare time training has made me a
valuable man to the firm and there’s more money coming soon. We’re starting
up easv street, Grace, thanks to vou and the I.C.S. . . .” The List Never
Ends Every day new solutions, new patterns are being created. Wherever the
direct appeal fails, or loses its power, you should begin to explore a
fifth stage headline. However, there are two vital points to remember in
connection with this problem. First of all, this type of headline is in-

YOUR PROS

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

35

finitely more difficult to bring home to the target than any of the other
four types. You are far more likely to miss the mark on this headline, because
you have far fewer guideposts to direct you. Your headline no longer refers
to i/our product, but it must therefore refer even more strongly to your
market. It cannot simply be a startler, or an attention-getter, or humorous,
or cute. Nor can it mask the fact that it has no headline behind a prettv
picture. Most copy writers use a fifth stage problem to write an empty
headline, and are therefore simply wasting their client’s money. Because it
is so easy to wander off into an irrelevant headline, keep this one cardinal
rule in mind. Your prospect must identify with your headline before lie can
buy from it. It must be his headline, his problem, his state of mind at that
particular moment. It must pick out the product’s logical prospects—and
reject as many people as it attracts. And, if it is an effective headline,
and it works, then it too will become outdated as your market moves on to a
new stage of awareness. And you will be presented with another problem, just
as challenging, and just as rewarding, as the one you have solved before. You
never step in the same river twice. No market ever stands still. A Final
Word on Style in Advertising Copy Markets change; desires change; fashions
change. And so do the acceptable styles of advertisements change. Certain
advertising styles—the form your advertising message takes—grow tired
with time—then stale—then actually laughable. At the turn of the century,
effective ads were written in verse; twenty years later, no one would believe
them. In the 1920s most of the great ads were narrative stories—either
first-person confessions, or third person revelations, or comic strips
dramatizations. Today everything but the comic strip is gone—and we see less
and less of it every year. When a new style is born, people believe it, and it

36

YOUR PROSPECT’S STATE OF AWARENESS

reinforces the message it is carrying. When that same style grows trite,
people cannot see the message for the advertisement. We’ll explore this
subject further, in the chapters discussing Mood and Disguise in writing
advertisements. Meanwhile, one more note here. In effective advertising,
though stvles may change, strategydoes not. If you will study the piano and
bridesmaid ads in this chapter, you will notice this: That while the narrative
style of both is now old-hat, you can still respond to their power. Both
tap desires that still exist—though now perhaps directed toward different
products and different problems. And both evoke those desires, and channel
those desires, so effectively, that if they were rewritten in today’s idiom,
and applied to different products, they still might sell millions of dollars
worth of goods today.

THE SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR MARKET: HOW MANY PRODUCTS HAVE B E E N THERE
BEFORE YOU?

As we mentioned before, in Chapter 2, there are three questions vou must answer
before vou can determine what goes into vour headline. These are: 1. What is
the mass desire that motivates your market? 2. How much does your market
know about your product? (Their State of Awareness.) 3. How many similar
products have they been told about before? (Their State of Sophistication.)
This third question is the most easilv answered. A few hours research should
give you samples of everv competing ad in the field—if there are any.
If You Are First in Your Market If there are not—if vou are the first in
your particular market, with your particular product—then you are dealing
with prospects 37

•JO

T H E SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR MARKET

that have no sophistication about your product at all. In other words, thev
have never received any information about such a product before. Once you get
them interested, they are likelv to become much more enthusiastic, believe
much more of what you have to say, and buy that much more readily. Remember,
vour story is brand-new to them. This, of course, is the dream of every
manufacturer and every copy writer. To be first. And it happens quite often
today. Sometimes because of a technological breakthrough—creating a new
product (women’s hair sprays), or a radically better product (longplaying
records), or a familiar product at an explosively low price (the Model T
Ford). And sometimes, such a brand-new market is created by the insight of
an advertising man, dealing with an already-established product. In this case,
the ad man visualizes the application of the product to an entirely different
market (the switch, in the Twenties, of Ovaltine from an aid for insomnia
to a body builder for skinnv children). Or he reaches that market through a
hitherto untapped medium (Revlons fabulous results from sponsorship of “The
$64,000 Question” in the early days of TV). Or he discovers a previously
unnoticed performance of his product that carries it completely beyond the
limits of its old market (Lifebuoy’s discovery that people would accept its
strong medicinal odor as a cure for perspiration odor, and their subsequent
christening of that odor with the catch-word “B.O.”). When such a golden
opportunity—to be first—presents itself, you are probably dealing with
a market in its third or fourth stage of awareness. Your prospects know that
they would like what your product does, or they would like to get rid of the
problem your product solves—if it were only possible. Here, the answer
to your third question is quite simple. You are dealing with a market where
you are first. Therefore thev have no previous information about similar
products. Therefore they are completely unsophisticated.

39

T H E SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR MARKET

And vour exploitation of this answer—your strategy in approaching this
market—is equally simple: 1. Be simple. Be direct. Above all, don’t
be fancy. ‘Same either the need or the claim in your headline—nothing
more. Dramatize that claim in your copy—make it as powerful as possible.
And. then bring in your product; and prove that it works. Nothing
more—because nothing more is needed. To illustrate, let’s look at one of
the most profitable, insatiable, constantlyrenewing, and therefore overworked
fields in marketing history: the reducing field. No one knows who was the
first man to stumble on the reducing field (though it’s fairly certain that
he must have become a millionaire). But all he had to say in his headline
as a simple statement of the direct desire of millions of women: w:

NOW! LOSE UGLY FAT!” As he started to clean up, others inevitably
followed. But, by this time, the reducing field had already been
tapped. Advertisements had been run. The direct claim had been made. Mere
repetition would no longer be enough. In other words, the reducing market was
now in its Second Stage of Sophistication. A new approach was necessary. The
strategy had to be changed—to this:

If You’re Second, Do This If you’re second, and the direct claim is still
working—then copy that successful claim—but enlarge on it. Drive it
to the absolute limit. Outbid your competition. For example, here are two
successful headlines in the now fiercelv-competitive reducing field that did
just that. They have both been pushed to the outer limits of both legality
and believabilitv. But thev both worked. ’LOSE UP TO 47 POUNDS IN 4 WEEKSOR
RECEIVE $40 BACK!"

40

T H E SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR MARKET

“I AM 61 POUNDS LIGHTER . . . NEVER A HUNGRY MINUTE.” In most fields,
this enlarged-claim technique reaches the outer limits in successive
stages. Sometimes the completion of this process takes years. In the home
garden field, as another example, an advertiser brought out a Floribunda
Rose—using this headline with startling success: “PICK 25—50—100 ROSES
FROM THIS ONE MAGNIFICENT PLANT!” It worked. And so, some years later,
a special variety of cushion mum swept the country with this headline: “SIX
HUNDRED MUMS FROM A SINGLE BUSH!” And, one year later, this headline carried
the process to what are probably the absolute limits of Mother Nature: “WHO
EVER HEARD OF 17,000 BLOOMS FROM A SINGLE PLANT?” As simple as this evolution
looks, it produces results. It provided a tremendous lift to car sales in
the 1950s, when 50 more horsepower was added to the advertisements everv
vear. It was climaxed in the Chrysler 300—a car named after its horsepower
rating—and pegged just at the limit of believability, practicality, and
the inevitable public reaction. For the reaction will come. Toward the end,
the process disintegrates. The successful claim is overworked; enlargement
piles on enlargement. New competitors enter the field—each trying to
promise more. Headlines double and triple in size. Words begin to lose their
meaning—"whiter-than-whites" appear. The prospect becomes confused—then
skeptical. Believability is shattered; claims are automatically discounted
50% by their readers. More promise is poured in to compensate. The govern-

T H E SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR MARKET

41

merit begins to investigate. And the sales curve begins to turn down-down-down.
The Third Stage of Sophistication At this point, your market has entered
into its Third Stage of Sophistication. Your prospects have now heard all
the claims— all the extremes. Perhaps they have even bought one or two
competitive products. Every time they open a newspaper, another similar
headline screams out at them. How are they to distinguish one product from the
mass? How do you break through to reach them? One factor is vital here. That
is the restorative power of the market you are dealing with. It may be a
market based on a constantly recurring mass instinct, such as reducing. It
may be a market based on an unsolved technological problem, such as spark plug
replacement. It may be a market that periodically wishes to renew or improve
its purchases, such as cars, homes, appliances. In all these cases, the
desire never fades; the market continuallv renews itself. New prospects come
into the market. Old customers become dissatisfied with their old purchases,
their old solutions, and begin to look again. The mass desire—the tremendous
profit potential—still exists. But it cannot be tapped by the old, simple
methods any longer. Women still want to lose weight. But by now they’ve read
dozens of ads for reducing aids—all promising them to take off 20, 30,
40 pounds in a matter of weeks. They no longer fully believe them. Perhaps
the}’ believe these ads so little that they won’t even try a new product
at all. For months, even years, they may simplv accept their overweight
condition as “something that just can’t be helped.” But the desire never
fades. The dissatisfaction builds up, month after month. Secretly, perhaps
even unconsciously, these women are hoping to find a new product—a new
headline—that promises them a new way to satisfy that age-old desire.

42

T H E SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR MARKET

And on this fundamental fact, we build our strategy for selling a market
in its Third Stage of Sophistication. If your market is at the stage where
they’ve heard all the claims, in all their extremes, then mere repetition or
exaggeration wont work any longer. What this market needs now is a new device
to make all these old claims become fresh and believable to them again. In
other words, A NEW MECHANISM—a new way to making the old promise work. A
different process—a fresh chance—a brand-new possibility of success where
only disappointment has resulted before. Here the emphasis shifts from what
the product does to HOW it works. Not accomplishment, but performance becomes
dominant. The headline expands. The claim remains—but now it is reinforced
by the mechanism that accomplishes it. In the reducing field, for example,
the limits of its basic promise had been reached bv headlines like this:
“I AM 61 POUNDS LIGHTER . . . NEVER A HUNGRY MINUTE.” Now new leaders
emerge—avoiding the competition of claims—stressing mechanism instead,
like this: “FLOATS FAT RIGHT OUT OF YOUR BODY!” ft ft ft

FIRST WONDER DRUG FOR REDUCING!” A vital change has taken place in both
these ads—and in every ad that deals successfully with this Third Stage of
Sophistication. In the previous, Second-Stage ads, the entire headline was
taken up by a complete statement of the main claim. Below it, in smaller type,
in either a subhead or the bodv copy, came the mechanism that accomplished
the claim. Often, this mechanism was abbreviated—simply mentioned instead
of being explained—indicated bv a sort of shorthand, like this:

T H E SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR MARKET

43

“I AM 61 POUNDS LIGHTER . . . NEVER A HUNGRY MINUTE.’ Read the Astonishing
Experience of New York Food Expert with the Famous Eat-and-Redtice Plan.
In Third-Stage ads, however, this arrangement is completely reversed. By
this time, the basic claim has become well-known to almost all its
prospects—perhaps even too well-known. Therefore, this shorthand can be
applied to the claim itself. What was before a five to ten word headline
describing nothing but the basic claim—”I AM 61 P O U N D S LIGHTER"—Hint-
can he communicated in a single word in a headline devoted to explaining how
this claim is accomplished. For instance: “FLOATS FAT RIGHT OUT OF YOUR BODY!”
Or: “FIRST WONDER DRUG FOR REDUCING!” First the mechanism is brought into the
headline to establish a point of difference—to make the old claims fresh and
believable again. And then—once the prospect is told that here is a brandnew
chance for success—then the claim can he restated in full, to make sure that
she realizes everything she is getting. Like this: “FLOATS FAT RIGHT OUT OF
YOUR BODY!” Released for the first time! The amazing scientific discoverv
that melts up to 37 POUNDS off men and women— without starvation diets,
without a single hungry moment— without even giving up the foods you love!
Or—using the same Third-Stage arrangement of mechanism in the headline,
and claim elaborated in the lead paragraph—we have this ad:

44

T H E SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR MARKET

FIRST WONDER DRUG FOR REDUCING!” Used successfully by thousands
of phvsicians! Lose as many pounds as you like without diets, without
exercise, without giving up the kinds of food vou love to eat! In both these
ads—and all others like them—the promise itself is subordinated to the
mechanism which accomplishes that promise. This mechanism is featured in
the headline. When ads such as these are successful, you are dealing with a
market that is in its Third Stage of Sophistication. The Fourth Stage But
you are still in a competitive market, and such ads give only a temporary
advantage. Such ads, presenting a new promise, begin a new trend. Within a
few months, the Third Stage of Sophistication passes into a Fourth Stage—a
new stage of elaboration and enlargement. But this time, the elaboration is
concentrated on the mechanism, rather than on the promise—like this: “FIRST
NO-DIET REDUCING WONDER DRUG!” This Fourth Stage strategy can be summarized
like this: If a competitor has just introduced a new mechanism to achieve
the same claim as that performed by your product, and that new-mechanism
announcement is producing sales, then you counter in this way. Simply elaborate
or enlarge upon the successful mechanism. Make it easier, quicker, surer;
allow it to solve more of the problem; overcome old limitations; promise
extra benefits. You are beginning a stage of embellishment similar to the
Second Stage of Sophistication described above. The same strategy will be
effective here. But, unfortunately, so will the same limitations. The Fourth

T H E SOPHISTICATION O F YOUR MARKET

45

Stage of Sophistication, like the Second Stage which it resembles, eventually
pushes itself out of the realm of believabilitv. At this point, further
elaborations become ineffective. You are then faced with two alternatives:
First, discovering a new, acceptable mechanism to make the promise fresh and
believable again. But remember, the mechanism vou use must not only be new
and legitimate, but it must be accepted as believable and significant by
vour market. Each Third and Fourth Stage ad that precedes you, makes this
problem of acceptance more and more difficult. Eventually, of course,
no new mechanism will gain acceptance. The market will have grown tired
of your promises and the mechanisms bv which thev are accomplished. Your
prospects will have been glutted bv advertising. You will have reached the
Fifth Stage of Sophistication—the most difficult—where the field is said
to be exhausted—where competitors are dropping out of the market en masse.
How to Revive a “Dead” Product In this Final Stage of Sophistication, your
market no longer believes in your advertising, and therefore no longer wishes
to he aware of your product. In many ways, therefore, this Fifth Stage
of Sophistication corresponds to the Fifth Stage of Awareness discussed
in Chapter 2. The problems are the same. The strategy is the same. The
emphasis shifts from the promise and the mechanism which accomplishes it,
to identification with the prospect himself. You are dealing here with the
problem of bringing your prospect into your ad—not through desire—but
through identification. (See Chapter 8.) An outstanding example of a product
which had lost its market because of such a Fifth Stage of Sophistication,
and then gained it back by a brilliant use of the identification headline, is
the Postum ad discussed in Chapter 2, and its headline, “WHY MEN CRACK . . .”

46

T H E SOPHISTICATION O F YOUR MARKET

THE

SOI’HI

Let’s Look at an Industry That Went Through All Five Stages of Sophistication
But perhaps the classic example of an industry which encountered all five
Stages of Sophistication—and overcame them— is the Cigarette Industry. The
history of cigarette advertising is a continuous battle against competition,
against physical and social taboos, even against the very success of its own
current advertising; which saturates and exhausts the market bv the weight of
its combined industry expenditures, and constantly demands new approaches.
Let’s briefly examine the main current of cigarette advertising first—the
progression from the first to the fifth Stages of Sophistication—and then
discuss some of the side problems it encountered. In the First Stage of
Sophistication, when the market was new, cigarette advertising featured
taste, enjoyment, pleasure in the headline: “I’D WALK A MILE FOR A CAMEL!”
“CHESTERFIELD—THEY SATISFY!” This raw promise of enjoyment gradually became
elaborated and embellished to push it to the limits of believabilitv. In
this Second Stage, since you cannot measure the pleasure a cigarette gives
you, the promise-growth took the form of broader and broader comparisons:
LIGHT UP A LUCKY, AND YOU WONT MISS THE SWEETS THAT MAKE YOU FAT!”
But, without measurement, the limits of enlargement are soon reached. So
Third-Stage strategy began to be emploved—a continuous stream of brilliant
new mechanisms: “LUCKIES—THEY’RE TOASTED!”

and hciiai:

T H E SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR MARKET

4I

PALL MALL’S GREATER LENGTH FILTERS THE SMOKE FURTHER!” “CAMELS—PROTECT
YOUR T-ZONE!” And, as each of these mechanisms was accepted bv the buying
public, the originators competitors adopted the mechanism and began
to elaborate on it—initiating the Fourth Stage: “PHILIP MORRIS—ALL
THE HARSHNESS BAKED OUT!” “CHESTERFIELD—REGULAR AND KING-SIZED TOO!”
NINE OUT OF TEN DOCTORS PREFER LUCKIES!” But eventually the mechanisms
lost their potency, and the government ruled out the health claims; and
in the early Fifties the industry faced a Fifth Stage market. But a new
marketing tool—Motivation Research—had shown them how to reach this
market without mechanisms or claims, without even headlines, simply by
projecting strong visual identifications with the virility that the public
had accepted in a cigarette. For example, anv of the Marlboro “Virile Men”
ads. Or their imitations in Chesterfield, or Camel ads. Thus we have the
full spectrum of sophistication confronting an industry. But cigarette
advertisers also encountered two critical side problems. The first offered
them the opportunity of doubling their market. The second, of retaining that
huge market in the face of the most adverse publicity The first challenge
occurred immediately following the First World War. By this time the old
“Coffin Nails” taboo had been forgotten—for men. But there still remained
the equally great potential market of women smokers—if smoking could be
made respectable for women. The trend was definitely in that direction—
the urge, the curiosity existed in millions of women in all social

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T H E SOPHISTICATION O F YOUR MARKET

classes—.some respectable women were actually daring to smoke in public.
But the trend—left by itself—would take years to develop. An advertisement
had to be created to accelerate that trend. To make smoking for women not only
acceptable, but desirable. To channel the vast movement toward liberation and
equality of the Twenties as the driving force to open up this huge new market.
But such an advertisement could never come right out and suggest that women
smoke. It could not even show a woman smoking. Such an advertisement was
definitely a Fifth Stage problem—a problem in identification. And it was
solved by linking a man and woman in their most appealing connection—in love
with a smoking situation. The ad showed a young couple, sitting together on a
beach on a moonlit night. He is just lighting up a cigarette—the first puffs
of smoke are just drifting into the moonlight. She has her face turned toward
his, and her words make up the entire headline (and, except for the logo,
the entire ad): “BLOW SOME MY WAV.” Nothing more needed to be said. A vast
new market—opened up with four words. The second challenge occurred thirty
vears later. This was the cancer scare of the late Fifties, which continues
into today It resulted in four reactions: First, there were cigarette holders,
water pipes, ceramic filters, etc.—none of which succeeded in establishing
a national market, since they represented too much inconvenience, too blatant
an admission that the purchaser was worried about his smoking. Secondly,
the scare produced a determined effort in the industry itself to conduct
its own research, to counteract or correct such claims. Third, it produced
a temporary drop in cigarette sales. And, fourth, it opened up a vast new
market for an already

T H E SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR MARKET

49

existing product—the filter cigarette—aided by the industry itself, which
wisely gambled that smokers would not move out of cigarettes, but simply into a
different kind of cigarette. Filter cigarettes had always existed, as a small,
specialty market. But now they were expanded into a mass market. Millions of
new prospects, who had never before even considered filter cigarettes, now
sought out information about them, asked to be told which one to b u y A new
market opened up. And it started to retrace the same Stages of Sophistication
as its parent market had passed through fifty years before: First Stage:
“KENT’S MICRONITE FILTER TRAPS TARS BEFORE THEY REACH YOUR LIPS’” Second
Stage: “20,000 FILTER TRAPS IN VICEROY!” Third Stage: “PARLIAMENT—THE
MOST IMPORTANT V* INCH IN SMOKING TODAY—NO FILTER FEEDBACK!” Fourth Stage:
“TAREYTON—DUAL FILTER FOR DOUBLE THE PLEASURE!” And the Fifth Stage—in
an industry-wide stroke of genius— right back to the flavor again: “WINSTON
TASTES GOOD LIKE A CIGARETTE SHOULD!” “IT’S WHAT’S UP FRONT THAT COUNTS!”
“L & M HAS FOUND THE SECRET THAT UNLOCKS THE FLAVOR!”

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T H E SOPHISTICATION OF YOUR MARKET

And so it goes. In industry after industry. The same life cycle for each
market. The same deadly challenges. The same willingness to adapt rather
than perish.

A Personal Note In this book I have tried to write a scientific study of
advertising, without troubling the reader with whatever personal ethics
I myself may observe. Every copv writer who has ever sweated for days to
create a new approach will know how it feels to see that approach copied
overnight bv a competitor. I share every ounce of that feeling. But such
events happen every day. And they are effective. Therefore, examples such
as those detailed above must be listed, in all objectivitv, as a business
strategy that has and will solve competitive problems in a competitive
industry. I include them here—not as recommendations, but as possible
strategies to be chosen or rejected.

4 38 WAYS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR HEADLINE ONCE YOU HAVE YOUR BASIC IDEA

Up to this point, we have been concerned with the strategy of planning
copv—of arriving at the theme of our ad and the content of its
headline—rather than with the techniques of actually writing this copy. The
entire second portion of the book will be devoted to these techniques. But we
must pause now, and examine one of these techniques out of sequence. It
is called VERBALIZATION. And it is the art of increasing the impact of a
headline bi/ the way in which it is stated. Everything we have done so far
lias helped us obtain the content of our headline. We now know what we want
to say. And we now have to determine how to sav it. The most obvious wav,
of course, is simplv to state the claim in its barest form. “Lose Weight,” or
“Stop Corns.” for example. And if you are the first in vour field, there is
no better wav. But where vou are competitive, or where the thought is too 51

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38 WAYS TO S T R E N G T H E N YOUR H E A D L I N E

complicated to be stated simply and directly, then you must reinforce that
claim by binding other images to it with the words in which you express
it. This is Verbalization. And it can accomplish several different purposes:
1. It can strengthen the claim—bv enlarging upon it, by measuring it,
by making it more vivid, etc. 2. It can make the claim new and fresh
again—bv twisting it, changing it, presenting it from a different angle,
turning it into a narration, challenging the reader with an example, etc.
3. It can help the claim pull the prospect into the body of the ad—by
promising him information about it, bv questioning him, by partially
revealing mechanism, etc. All of these goals are accomplished by adding
variations, enlargements or embellishments to the main headline claim
of the ad. These additional images are bound into the main claim bv the
sentence structure of the headline. Thev alter the main claim to make it
more effective. They are the second creative step in writing the ad. First,
we have seen how to determine the appeal itself. And now, howto shape that
appeal into its most effective form in the headline. There are, of course,
an infinite number of these variations (every good copywriter invents a few
himself). But there are general patterns that most of them follow. Here are
some of these guideposts for vour own thinking: 1. Measure the size of the
claim: “20,000 FILTER TRAPS IN VICEROY!” “I AM 61 POUNDS LIGHTER . . .”
’WHO EVER HEARD FROM A SINGLE PLANT?"

OF

2. Measure the speed of the claim: “FEEL BETTER FAST!”

17,000 BLOOMS

3 8 WAYS T O S T R E N G T H E N YOUR H E A D L I N E

53

“7A7 TWO SECONDS, BAYER ASPIRIN BEGINS TO DISSOLVE IN YOUR GLASS!’” 3. Compare
the claim: “SIX TIMES WHITER WASHES!” “COSTS UP TO $300 LESS THAN MANY
MODELS OF THE LOW-PRICED THREE!” 4. Metaphorize the claim: “BANISHES CORNS!”
MELTS AWAY UGLY FAT!” 5. Sensitize the claim bv making the prospect feel,
smell, touch, see or hear it: “TASTES LIKE YOU JUST PICKED IT!” “THE SKIN
YOU LOVE TO TOUCH!” 6. Demonstrate the claim bv showing a prime example:
JAKE LAMOTTA, 160 POUND FIGHTER, FAILS TO FLATTEN MONO PAPER CUP!” “AT 60
MILES AN HOUR, THE LOUDEST NOISE IN THIS ROLLS ROYCE IS THE ELECTRIC CLOCK!”
7. Dramatize the claim, or its result: “HERE’S AN EXTRA 850, GRACE—I’M
MAKING BIG MONEY NOW!” “THEY LAUGHED WHEN I SAT DOWN AT THE PIANO—BUT WHEN
I STARTED TO PLAY . . .” 8. State the claim as a paradox: “HOW A BALD-HEADED
BARBER SAVED MY HAIR!” “BEAT THE RACES BY PICKING LOSERS!”

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3 8 WAYS T O S T R E N G T H E N YOUR H E A D L I N E

9. Remove limitations from the claim: “SHRINKS GERY!”

HEMORRHOIDS WITHOUT SUR-

YOU BREATHE NO DUSTY ODORS WHEN YOU DO IT WITH LEWYT!” 10. Associate the
claim with values or people with whom the prospect wishes to be identified:
MICKEY MANTLE SAYS: BOTHER MY THROAT!”

CAMELS

NEVER

“9 OUT OF 10 DECORATORS USE WUNDAWEAVE CARPETS FOR LONG LIFE AT LOW COST!”
11. Show how much work, in detail, the claim does: “NOW! RELIEF FROM ALL
5 ACID-CAUSED STOMACH TROUBLES—IK SECONDS!” “RELIEVES CONGESTION IN
ALL 7 NASAL PASSAGES INSTANTLY!” 12. State the claim as a question: “WHO
ELSE WANTS A WHITER WASH—WITH NO HARD WORK?” “COULD YOU USE $25 A WEEK
EXTRA INCOME?” 13. Offer information about how to accomplish the claim:
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE!” “HERE’S WHAT TO DO TO GET RID
OF PIMPLES FAST!” 14. Tie authority into the claim: “BOSS MECHANIC SHOWS
HOW TO AVOID ENGINE REPAIR BILLS!”

38 WAYS TO S T R E N G T H E N YOUR H E A D L I N E

“HERE’S WHAT DOCTORS DO WHEN THEY FEEL ROTTEN!” 15. Before-and-after
the claim: “BEFORE COLDENE A CHILD GOT OVER A COLD AFTER 5 DAYS OF ACHING,
SNEEZING, WHEEZING, DRIPPING, SUFFERING, COUGHING, CRYING, GAGGING, SPITTING.”
WITH COLDENE A CHILD GETS OVER A COLD IN FIVE DAYS!” 16. Stress the newness
of the claim: “ANNOUNCING! PLUGS!”

GUIDED

MISSILE

SPARK

NOW! CHROME PLATE WITHOUT HEAT, ELECTRICITY, MACHINERY!” 17. Stress the
exclusivity of the claim: “OURS ALONE! PERSIAN LAMB ORIGINALS— $389.40!”
ONLY GLEEM HAS GL-70 TO KEEP TEETH CLEAN ALL DAY LONG WITH ONE BRUSHING!”
18. Turn the claim into a challenge for the reader: “WHICH TWIN HAS THE
TONI? AND WHICH HAS THE $15 PERMANENT?” “DOES SHE OR DOESN’T SHE? HAIR
COLORING SO NATURAL ONLY HER HAIRDRESSER KNOWS FOR SURE!” 19. State the
claim as a case-history quotation: “LOOK, MOM—NO CAVITIES!” “WOULD YOU
BELIEVE IT—I HAVE A COLD!”

•56

38 WAYS TO S T R E N G T H E N YOUR H E A D L I N E

20. Condense the claim—interchange your product and the product it replaces:
NOW! A RING AND PISTON JOB IN A TUBE!” “POUR YOURSELF A NEW ENGINE!”
21. Symbolize the claim—replace the direct statement or measurement of
the claim with a parallel reality: “STARTING NEXT TUESDAY, THE ATLANTIC
OCEAN BECOMES ONLY ONE-FIFTH AS LONG!” 22. Connect the mechanism to the
claim in the headline: “FLOATS FAT RIGHT OUT OF YOUR BODY!” “FEEDS W\STE
GAS FUMES BACK INTO YOUR ENGINE!” 23. Startle the reader by contradicting
the wav he thinks the mechanism should work: " H I T HELL OUT OF THE BALL
WITH YOUR RIGHT HAND,’ SAYS TOMMY ARMOUR!" 24. Connect the need and the
claim in the headline: “THERE IS ONLY ONE SOLUTION TO AN ADVERTISING PROBLEM:
FIND THE MAN!” 25. Offer information in the ad itself: “WHY MEN CRACK . . .”
WHAT EVERYBODY OUGHT TO KNOW ABOUT THIS STOCK AND BOND BUSINESS!” 26. Turn
the claim or the need into a case historv: “AUNT MEG, WHO NEVER MARRIED . . .”
AGAIN SHE ORDERS—A CHICKEN SALAD, PLEASE’”

3 8 WAYS T O S T R E N G T H E N YOUR H E A D L I N E

57

27. Give a name to the problem or need: “WHEN YOU’RE WEARY WITH DAY-TIME
FATIGUE, TAKE ALKA-SELTZER.” 28. Warn the reader about possible pitfalls if
he doesn’t use the product: “DON’T INVEST ONE CENT OF YOUR HARDEARNED MONEY
UNTIL YOU CHECK THIS GUIDE!” 29. Emphasize the claim bv its phraseology—bv
breaking it into two sentences, or repeating it, or a part of it: “A MAN
YOU CAN LEAN ON! THAT’S KLOPERMAN!” “NOBODY BUT NOBODY UNDERSELLS GIMBEL’S!”
30. Show how easv the claim is to accomplish bv imposing a imiversallv-overcome
limitation: “IF YOU CAN COUNT TO ELEVEN, YOU CANINCREASE YOUR SPEED AND SKILL
AT NUMBERS!” 31. State the difference in the headline: “THE DIFFERENCE IN
PREMIUM LINES IS RIGHT IN THE ADDITIVES!”

GASO-

32. Surprise vour reader into realizing that former limitations have now
been overcome: “SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CRUSH A HARTMAN DC-8? NOTHING!”
33. Address the people who can’t buv vour product: “IF YOU’VE ALREADY TAKEN
YOUR VACATION, DON’T READ THIS. IT’LL BREAK YOUR HEART.”

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3 8 WAYS T O S T R E N G T H E N YOUR H E A D L I N E

34. Address your prospect directly: “TO THE MAN WHO WILL SETTLE FOR NOTHING
LESS THAN THE PRESIDENCY OF HIS FIRM.” 35. Dramatize how hard it was
to produce the claim: “WHEN JENS FINISHED DESIGNING THIS CANDLEHOLDER WE
HAD TO INVENT A WHOLE NEW KIND OF CANDLE.” 36. Accuse the claim of being
too good: “IS IT IMMORAL TO MAKE MONEY THIS EASILY?” 37. Challenge the
prospects present limiting beliefs: “YOU ARE TWICE AS SMART AS YOU THINK.”
38. Turn the claim into a question and answer: “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT’S UNDER
THE HOOD AND YOU COULDN’T CARE LESS AS LONG AS YOUR CAR RUNS SMOOTHLY. WHO
SHOULD YOU SEE IF IT D O E S N ’ T ? . . . SOMEONE WHO CARES—UNITED DELCO.”
And so on: an infinite number of variations. Trv to create your own—tomorrow.

SUMMARY: THE ART OF CREATIVE PLANNING— H O W TO MAKE AN IDEA GROW

Now, let’s look at a few special headline problems, and then sum up:

The Three Levels of Creativity Something should be said here about the
various approaches copy writers use to dig up a new headline. As far as I
can tell, there are three of them: The first, the shallowest, and the most
widespread and ineffective, is the Word-Substitute Technique. Here the
copy writer consults a list of proven and successful headlines. He then
pulls out the original product name and substitutes his own; or his own
product’s performance, etc. He usually comes up with something like this:
“I’D WALK A MILE FOR A CUP OF BLANK COFFEE!” 59

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SUMMARY: T H E ART OF CREATIVE PLANNING

WHY HAVEN’T BOAT OWNERS BEEN TOLD THESE FACTS?” “FLOATS UGLY PIMPLES
RIGHT OUT OF YOUR SKIN!” If these ads are copied from a similar product,
in the same market, at the same time, then their chance of success is good—
especially if they embellish the promise in any way. But if the product, or
the market, or the timing is different, then the chances of success diminish
proportionately They become Echo Ads ads that remind people of some other
product. Thev pav no attention to unique product-market-timing relationship
that exists at the moment. Therefore they lose all the strengths that are
wrapped up in that relationship. They are the kind of ads that clients write,
rather than copy writers. The second, deeper and more difficult approach
is through formulas. Here the copy writer has memorized a list of rules or
principles, and tries to pour his headline into them like he’d pour hot lead
into a mold. Such rules usually concern the way a headline is expressed. They
list methods of strengthening the verbalization of the headline idea, and
here thev have a perfectlyvalid use. Several examples of these principles
are given in Chapter 4. But the idea for an ad or a headline demands its
own shape. It cannot be fitted into someone else’s solution. The problem
defies a formula. And the third, analytical approach that we have outlined
above—with no answers; only guide-posts and questions—offers the onlv wav.
This is a hard fact to accept. It means that a solution which has cost you
days and weeks of painful effort, and which has done its job perfectly—can
be used only once. It means that there are no creative shortcuts—that
the effort must be duplicated with each individual ad. But fortunately the
techniques of probing can be learned and perfected; intuition can be sharpened;

SUMMARY: T H E ART O F CREATIVE PLANNING

Di

a sensitivity can be developed for picking out the vital fact from a maze
of information. And, of course, abandoning this effort leads to a reality
which is even harsher. Manx’ copy writers grow old, or tired, or afraid.
They stop searching for the unique solution in every problem. From this
moment on, they begin to copy instead of create. And most pathetic of all,
main’ begin to copy themselves. The more successful the copv writer, the
greater the temptation to find his new headline in his old files. But it
won’t work. Copying can be done by any cub. All this process does is bring
talent down to the level of file-cabinet mediocrity. The true copy writer
must argue with success—he must push on past it every time he faces a new
product. In advertising, as well as in science and in art, the solution to
the unique lies only in itself. On Motivation Research and Its Relation to
the Copy Writer As we have repeated throughout this first part of the book,
the copy writer’s primary job is to know his market. Many times, he has to
know more about that market than the market knows about itself. Before MR,
he did this mostly by personal digging, reading, talking—and guessing. With
MR, lie has some pretty professional guessers working with him. And they
have the equipment to prove their guesses far more easily and inexpensively
than writing a campaign and testing it. The copy writer can use MR in two
ways. It can be a tremendous source of information to him. Information about
the most powerful needs and desires of his market—desires that may be hidden,
verbally unacceptable, or completely unknown. It shows him the strength of
those desires—their drift and momentum—the taboos that accompany them, and
limit their expression. It helps him locate splits in his market—gauge their

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SUMMARY: T H E ART OF CREATIVE PLANNING

points of difference—design pinpoint appeals for each of them. And it
feeds back to him early reactions to his own phraseology—to test his own
worry-points in the ad—to enable him to shift emphasis—and even to emerge
with a completely new idea. All well and good. But a motivation research
finding is not a headline, nor even the central theme of an ad, nor will it
ever be. Like any other fact, it is a direction. First it tells vou where not
to go, to avoid wasting your time. And then it indicates the general area
of your solution. But the transformation of those facts into an idea, and
the expression of that idea in the strongest possible form, still requires
as much creative talent as any other starting point. The source of an idea,
no matter how profound, is still only the beginning. The copy writer has to
take it from there. The second great service that MR can perform for the
copywriter is that of testing his own hunches, in answering the questions
he uncovers in dealing with his market over a period of time. For purposes
of simplicity, we have dealt with advertising strategy as though it always
consisted of writing a single ad— rather than a continuous campaign. By
limiting ourselves in this way, we have been able to deal with each of the
phases of such a campaign as though it were a separate and distinct problem,
requiring a separate and distinct advertisement to solve it. In doing this,
we have emphasized that a breakthrough can occur at any stage of a campaign;
and that the same breakthrough techniques can be used to produce the germ idea
for the entire campaign that follows. In reality, however, the copy writer
usually works on a given product, or in a given market area, for long periods
of time. During that time he will write many ads on this same subject. And
during that time he will engage in a kind of discourse with his market,
in which he feeds that market ideas, and it feeds back to him reactions to
those ideas. During this massive conversation, if he is sensitive, the copy

SUMMARY: T H E ART OF CREATIVE PLANNING

63

writer will pick up a continuous flow of the most vital information. Some
of this information will be actual trends and preferences, which can be
immediately translated into new ads. But much more of it will be in negative
form—failures, roadblocks, limitations to the response from his ads. And
only the statistical measurements of these limitations will be shown—not
their causes. The copywriter will want to know why they occur. And in asking
whv, he will give birth to questions like these: What causes one woman
to make most of her clothes at home, and another woman to use her sewing
machine only for minor repairs? How can we convince more people that it’s
safe to buy through mail order? Why will men instantlv buy an automatic
potato peeler—and women send it right back to the store again? These are
research questions. They deal with psychological dimensions. The copv writer
discovers them, and passes them along to his MR people to be phrased, tested
and answered. Thus is born a new idea, a new theme, and a new headline,
perhaps even a new campaign. On Expressing the Personality of a Product
in Your Headline One of the most potent discoveries of motivation research
is that a product, or a store, or a whole group of products has a distinct
and complete personality to the consumer. This personality is a complex
quality, embracing many traits. In the case of the Cadillac, for example,
it consists of quality, prestige, performance, appearance, comfort, resale
value, freedom from repairs and much more. But—and this is the important
point to consider in writing vour headline—one of these traits will always
be the most effective in summarizing and expressing this personality. In
the case of Cadillac, it has always been, and will always be, quality. This

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SUMMARY: T H E ART OF CREATIVE PLANNING

summary trait is featured in a series of headlines, or headline
illustrations—perhaps blended with one or two of the other traits to give
it variety but always strengthening those other traits bv interrelating them
to this one dominant quality. Thus the personality is simplified, symbolized
and sharpened to grasp the reader. And then—as the reader moves on through
the body copy of the ad—this personality is expanded and examined in all
its appeals—an ever-enlarging pyramid of persuasion, drawing in all the
necessary information—charging that information with desire—terminating
inevitably in the one source of satisfaction for that desire—vour product.
We will examine this concept more thoroughly in Chapter 8—on Identification.
On the Only Type of Prevention Headline That Will Sell Many copy writers
believe that no prevention headline (because it treats a problem that may
occur and that is not actually plaguing your prospect at this moment) can
ever be effective. The reason they give for this failure is the inability of
the prospect to identify himself with a problem that has not already forced
itself upon him. This is true—but only for those problems which affect him
personally. He is perfectly capable of imagining such problems afflicting his
loved ones, his friends, his wife and children, even his nation. This is why
decay-preventing toothpaste sold so well when the ads focussed the decay, not
on the parent, but on the children. This is why life insurance can be sold,
not by picturing the prospects death, but the horrors inflicted upon his
wife and children if insufficient money is left over to take care of them.
To sum up: A man will not visualize future disasters occurring to himself,
but he is perfectly capable of visualizing, and buying preventatives from,
the image of such future problems affecting others around him.

’: SUMMARY: T H E ART OF CREATIVE PLANNING

65

On the Selection of Splinter Markets to Avoid Competition Throughout this
book, we have assumed that each competitor in a market will trv to advertise
to that market as a whole. For example, that every reducing aid will try to
sell all women that are interested in losing weight. This assumption is not
necessarily true, in at least two respects. First, it assumes that such a
market is all of one piece (for example, that all women want to lose weight
for the same reason). Thev do not, of course. There are at least two major
sub-categories in the market—those who want to lose weight for appearance
reasons, and those who must lose weight because of their health. The same
general appeal—LOSE WEIGHT—will be effective with both. But certainly
the mechanisms should vary—speed and ease in the first—safetv and
permanence in the second. Secondly, a small company with a limited budget
may avoid competing with larger rivals for the core of the market, and may
concentrate its attack on a smaller segment of that market. This is usually
done regionally. But it may be even more effective if it is based on the
sociology of the market rather than its geography. For example, a reducing
aid may decide to abandon the greater appearance segment of the market, and
appeal much more specifically to the health segment. This deliberate focussing
of the appeal would alter every aspect of the campaign, from the headline,
through identification copy, through mechanism and substantiation—right
down to the selection of media and channels of distribution. (Health and
geriatric magazines, and distribution through doctors rather than drug stores.)
Eventually, of course, if the appeal is successful and the budget grows,
then the advertiser can decide to invade the majority market. If he does
this, the success of the initial limited campaign can be used as a point of
difference to appeal to the larger market. For example, the fact that women
who were forced to lose weight permanently relied on this product more than
twice as often as any other, etc.

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SUMMARY: T H E ART OF CREATIVE PLANNING

In Summary The first five chapters of this book, which vou have just finished,
describe a process which may take days, or weeks, or months to complete.
This process begins with a thorough analysis of the market for your client’s
product—with an attempt to measure the breadth and depth of that market—to
identify the gigantic emotional forces that create that market—to define
and focus those forces in terms of a single image or desire or need—and to
channel those forces toward one inevitable solution—vour client’s product.
In order to do this, the second step of this process involves a meticulous
study of the product itself—what it is and what it does—the physical
product that you will deliver, and the functional product that you will
sell—all its various satisfactions and performances—again focussed to
a single image, a single identification, a single claim that will tap the
greatest possible emotional force within your market. The combination of
these first and second steps gives you the theme of your ad—the desire your
market demands and its satisfaction . . . the need your market feels and its
solution . . . the identification your market gropes for and its expression.
And once you discover this theme, you begin the process of expressing it. You
explore the state of maturity of vour market. You find out how much people
know about vour product and what it does—how much they’ve been told about
similar products—and how much they care about both. Out of this analysis
comes the point of entrv for vour headline—the point of contact—the point
of greatest interest and acceptance on the part of your prospect. It may be
located anywhere—in your product itself, in its price, in its performance,
in the satisfaction your product promises, in the need vour market demands
from your product, or only in the market itself. But, wherever it is, this
is the point where vou start. Here the searching and the planning stop. Here
the words begin.

SUMMARY: T H E ART OF CREATIVE PLANNING

Again, this process may take weeks or even months. And at the end of that
time, you may have written five or ten words. These five or ten words will
make up about 90% of the value of your ad. If you are right, they may start a
new industry. If you are wrong, nothing you write after them will save your
ad. Copy writing—on the idea level—is an all or nothing profession. You
build your idea, piece by piece . . . you crowd it into five or ten words
. . . and then it stands or dies by itself. And everything that follows
it, stands or dies with it. This is why we have devoted so much time to
this planning process. And it is a process. You don’t get an idea or a
headline— vou either build it, or vou unfold it, petal by petal. You dig
it out of the market research . . . vou wring it out of the product . . .
you read, you listen, you experiment for yourself. You work— hard. You
rub up against this product and this market so hard that they seep into
vour pores. And—above everything else—you remember this cardinal ride of
creativity: What you are looking for in this product and this market is the
one element that makes them unique. The idea you want— the headline you
want—the breakthrough you want—are all wrapped up inside that product
and that market. Nowhere else. And no outside ride—no outside formula
will give them to you. You are facing a product-market-timing relationship
that never happened before—it is unique. And the solution you need is
just as unique. What this first part of the book has tried to give vou is
not molds, but compasses. Not formulas to copy word by word, or rules to
rigidlv follow. But rather guide-posts to set your thinking in the right
direction. Specifically and technically, these guideposts fall into two
classes: The first are analytical procedures. Their purpose is to break down
a complicated problem into its parts . . . to examine those parts one bv one
. . . to find out which is the most important— and to start your solution
from there. Once you have done this, you then begin to build up your

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solution to its greatest power. You do this bv removing limiting factors,
and bv adding everything you can find that will strengthen your idea. If we
wrote literature instead of advertising, these two processes would be called
conception and execution. In copy writing, we sav that we get the main theme
for our ad, and then we put it into a headline. And when vou have finished,
vou have five or ten words. If thev are the right words, thev will be immensely
valuable. But they still will be onlv the start. Thev are the end of one road,
and the beginning of another. Thev are the imitation to vour ad—the hand
vou extend to your prospect for vour product. Your job is now to make that
introduction worth while—for both parties. In the remainder of the book,
we shall discuss the techniques of writing the bodv copy of vour ad. These
techniques are directed toward one end: building conviction—not onlv
instilling the desire for vour product, but actually strengthening that desire
with the belief that that product will DO what the prospect wants. We now
turn to this process of building vour ad, so that vour ad builds conviction.

PART 2 THE SEVEN BASIC TECHNIQUES OF BREAKTHROUGH ADVERTISING How to write
body copy as strong as your headline

6 INSIDE YOUR PROSPECT’S MEND—WHAT MAKES PEOPLE READ, WANT, BEIJEVE

You have now built vour headline. You now have a means of stopping your
prospect—of bringing to a momentary halt all the diverse activities of
his mind—of focussing his attention, at least for a moment, on a single
thought. This is the job that you have designed vour headline to do—not
to sell, or identify your product, or even mention the need or desire that
your product satisfies—but simply and solelv to flag down your prospect,
and get him to read your first paragraph. From that moment on, your body
copy does the selling. It does this by altering your prospect’s vision of
reality. It creates a new world for your prospect—a world in which your
product emerges as the fulfillment of the dominant desire that caused this
man to respond to your headline. To create this world, your copy must expand
or alter one or more of the three dimensions of his alreadv-existing mental
world. This is the task of the remainder of your ad. Your copv 71

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must be long enough to accomplish this change—and the length of your ad
will depend on three factors: First, how much copy you need to build his
desire for that product—and everything that product can do for him—to its
greatest possible strength. Second, how much additional copy you need to make
him feel both comfortable and complimented bv that product, to enable him to
visualize that product as a part of the life structure that he has built, and
is building, for himself. And, finally, how much additional copy vou need to
make him believe what you have said—to compensate for his alreadyexisting
prejudices and beliefs. The answers to these three questions determine not
onlv the length of your ad, but also its structure, its development, its
style and its pace. Each of these questions relates to a separate dimension
of your prospect’s mind—different wavs he has of arranging thoughts and
feelings. In this chapter, we will examine these three dimensions briefly,
and sketch in what wavs, and to what extent, you can alter or expand them
through vour ad. And then, in the following chapters, we will detail these
mechanisms of persuasion thoroughly along with the most effective techniques
of presenting them. And then, in the last chapter, we will trv to weave them
together into a simple, straight-line, logical progression of images —leading
your reader from the headline, through the product, to the actual purchase.
Let us start with these three dimensions of thought and feeling:

1. Desires These are the wants, needs, cravings, thirsts, hungers, lusts,
etc. that drive your prospect through life. They are physical—such as
the desire to be thin, or strong, or healthy, or free from acne, corns,
bad breath or what have vou. Thev are material—such as

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the desire to possess monev, or a big car, or a beautiful dress. Thev are
sensual—such as the thirst for a cold glass of beer, or the need for a
tired bodv to stretch out on a soft bed. They have, of course, tremendous
driving power. And thev already exist. You cannot create them, diminish them,
or battle them. But you can expand them, sliarpen them, channel them, and
give them a goal. And this is vour primary task as a copy writer. Your first
task—and in some ads vour only task—is to make vour prospect want. To
sharpen his desire. To picture every moment of its fulfillment. To let
him see it, feel it, touch it, sit in it, listen to his friends rave about
it. To make him visualize the wonderful new world your product offers him
so strongly that he practically lives in it—and then to offer him that
product. The method of doing this—Intensification—will be discussed
in the next chapter. 2. Identifications These are the roles vour prospect
wants to play in life, and the personality traits he wants vour product to
help him build, or project. These longings for identification—longings for
a sharplydefined personality—longings for social status—are, of course,
not materia] or physical or sensual at all. Thev complement and intensify the
physical desires—add another dimension to them— bv making each purchase
serve a double duty. Thus, not only does a woman buy a low-calorie food to
become thin, but in so doing she also builds again a radiant, attractive,
youthful personality. And not only does a man buy a car for the power, speed
and transportation it will give him, but equally as much for the projection
of prestige, success and readv-cash-to-burn that this purchase communicates
to his neighbors. Call them what you will—goals, hopes, dreams, ambitions,
envies, admirations, phantasies or objectives—these subtle, svm-

INSIDE YOUR P R O S P E C T S MIND

bolic, never-openly-spoken projections of our own self-images are immensely
powerful sales forces. Your task is to put them directly behind your
product. To make him feel the prestigious and select group he joins when he
becomes a user of that product. To picture for him the people who live in
vour product’s world todav.

3. Beliefs These are the opinions, attitudes, prejudices, fragments of
knowledge and conceptions of reality that vour prospect lives bv. This is
the world of emotionalized reason that he inhabits—the way he accepts or
rejects facts and builds up his universe, the types of thinking he uses to
arrive at decisions, the ideas and values which give him comfort and which
he believes are permanent and true. These ideas may be shallow or profound,
valid or false, perfectly logical or mere wishful thinking. But it is not
advertising’s mission to argue with them. And no one advertiser can change
them. Advertising is not education; it does not have societv as its sponsor,
nor does it have the vears of time that are given to education to produce
results. Advertising, like science, must accept reality as it exists,
not as it might wish it to exist. Only then can it alter reality—not
bv smashing into it head-on—but bv exploiting its tendencies and giving
direction to its energies. Believing is a process—a process of fitting new
facts into certain established patterns of thought and conviction. People
believe in certain ways. These beliefs form a filter through which your
product-information must pass or be rejected. And their already-established
patterns of reasoning create habit-channels along which your copy must build
its conviction—or die. You start with these beliefs as a base. You build
up from them by using his kind of logic, not vour own, to prove that vour
product satisfies his desires—to prove that your product works—to

INSIDE YOUR PROSPECT S MIND

prove that his kind of people rely on your product—to prove that
no other product satisfies his needs as well. The mechanisms
for doing this are shown in Chapters 9 and 10. There you have
them. Desires. . . . Identifications. . . . Beliefs. Each of them composed of
equal parts of emotion and thought. The three dimensions of vour prospect’s
mind—the raw materials with which you will work. To study them, we shall
deal with each of them separatelv. But, in actually writing your ad, of
course, you will weave them into each other—to create a simple, fluid path
of thought from the beginning to the end of vour ad. This technique—Blending
and Reinforcement—will be the subject of Chapter 14.

7 THE FIRST TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: INTENSIFICATION

Thirteen Ways to Strengthen Desire The force that creates sales, that powers
our present economy, is desire. Mass Desire, spread among millions of men and
women. And the art of salesmanship, fundamentally and primarily, is expanding
this desire. Expanding it horizontally, among more and more people. Expanding
it vertically by sharpening and magnifying it—by building it to such a
pitch that it overcomes the obstacles of skepticism, lethargy and price,
and results in the sale. Advertising is salesmanship in print. Therefore,
above everything else, advertising is the literature of desire. It is society’s
encyclopedia of dreams . . . our twentieth-century Wish Book. Advertising gi
y e s form and content to desire. It provides it with a goal. These desires,
as they exist in the mind of vour prospect today, are indistinct. They are
blurs—hazy, ambiguous, not yet

F I R S T T E C H N I Q U E OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: INTENSIFICATION

crystallized into words or images. In most cases, tliev are simply vague
emotions, without compulsion or direction. And as such, they have only
a fraction of their true potential power. Your job is to fill out these
vague desires with concrete images—to show your prospect every possible
way that they can be fulfilled—to multiply their strength by the number of
satisfactions that you can suggest to achieve them. A copy writer’s first
qualifications are imagination and enthusiasm. You are literally the script
writer for vour prospect’s dreams. You are the chronicler of his future. Your
job is to show him in minute detail all the tomorrows that vour product
makes possible for him. This is the core of advertising—its fundamental
function. To take unformulated desire, and translate it into one vivid scene
of fulfillment after another. To add the appeal of concrete satisfaction
after satisfaction to the basic drive of that desire. To make sure that your
prospect realizes everything that he is getting— everything that he is now
leaving behind him—everything that he may possibly be missing. The sharper
you can draw vour pictures—and the greater the number of them that you
can legitimately present—the more your prospect will demand your product,
and the less important will seem your price. How much space can you give to
this process of Intensification? This depends on two factors—the amount
of space allotted to you for the entire ad, and the number of wavs vou can
present your images without giving the feeling of repetition or boredom.
First of all, different media demand different treatments. For example,
catalogs, small-space newspaper and magazine advertising, radio and television
strictly limit the number of words given to you to draw your images. To
fit vour message into their structures, you must use either or both of two
techniques. The first is compression—the boiling down of projections and
images into a few key words. And the second is the campaign—the repetition
of these key words over and over again—along with a

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progression of embellishments and differentiations—through an entire
series of advertisements. We shall see how this is done, in detail, at the
end of this chapter. On the other hand, large-space newspaper and magazine
advertising and especially direct mail give you adequate room, in most cases,
to present a full story In these media, the decision as to length depends far
more on the second factor—the number of ways you can present your images
without giving the feeling of repetition or boredom. No matter what you do,
your prospect will take with him only one basic idea, one dominant image
from vour ad. But with every additional new and different wav that vou can
present that idea, it becomes sharper and more real in vour prospect’s mind,
and it builds up more and more emotional weight. Thus the problem becomes one
of perspective, of fresh viewpoints, of new and different detail. Of walking
around vour product in your imagination, and presenting it to your prospect in
ever}* way in which it enters his life. You are working against two opposing
forces. The first, as in your headline, is the amount of material which has
already been presented to your prospect about similar products in other ads.
There are stages of market sophistication to be dealt with in bodv copy as
well as in your headline. If your prospect has read the same phraseology
before, he will be bored bv it, no matter where he encounters it again.
And the second obstacle is the phraseology of vour own ad. Once you have
presented your basic fulfillment in a certain wav; then you must vary your
viewpoint in your second description, or not present it again. Otherwise
you will lose vour reader in the middle of vour ad. You cannot repeat, but
you can reinforce. And every time the same basic promise is given a fresh
setting for vour prospect, it reinforces the descriptions that went before
it, and makes vour prospect that much more determined to participate.

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The presenting of a series of fresh, new and different fulfillments for
your prospects dominant desire—our first mechanism of persuasion—is
called Intensification. It takes many forms, with many more certainly to be
inyented. We will list some of them here, giving the complete copy examples
to show how thev have been worked out to deal with specific copy problems.
Our illustrations in this part of the book will be drawn mostly from mail
order. The reason for this is simple. Mail order advertising must accomplish
its sale from a single ad, without relying on the cumulative force of the
campaign, and without help from product display or salespeople. Therefore, mail
order tries to present as much of the complete story as possible at one time.
These same techniques apply equally well to all forms of advertising. But
there the}- are usually quite compressed, and their purpose and structure
was not quite so apparent. Here are these techniques of Intensification:

Your First Presentation of Your Claims 1. First present the product or the
satisfaction it gives directly—bluntly—by a thorough, completely detailed
description of its appearance or the results it gives. For example, this
rose ad: MORE ROSES THAN YOU EVER SAW ON ANY ROSE BUSH . . . Leading Eastern
Agricultural College reports: This fabulous rose variety produced 500 blooms
in June . . . 1523 more blooms in July. . . 1616 more blooms in August. . .
437 more blooms in September . . . 4,076 rases all from one single plant. . .
Can you imagine the fantastic beauty of a rosebush that can easily give you
MORE THAN 4,000 ROSES from June to September—and then keeps on blooming
heavily right up into frost . . . Can you imagine the fantastic thrill of
walking into your garden and actually picking 3 dozen, even 4 dozen

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roses a day from a single plant, dav after day, week alter week—and still
leave gigantic clusters of bloom on each single plant. Colorful, fragrant
roses almost as large as the most expensive Hvbrid Teas, vet blooming bv
the hundreds at one single time . . . on one single bush! Cherrv-pink 3-inch
roses overlaid with tinges ol red that deepen in fire and brilliance as the
blossoms unfold—to reveal a dazzling gold splash on their petals! Roses
that burst into living walls of blossoms that flame again and again into
exquisite masses of bloom in June, Julv, August, September, October, November
. . . and often stav in bloom weeks after the first snows have fallen! . . .
This is the rose with such fantastic blooming power that it will actually
give vou huge clusters of 10, 12 even 15 flowers on a single stem . . . and
produce those clusters in solid masses of bloom! Clusters as large as both
of your outstretched hands put together . . . clusters that actuallv measure
up to one full foot across . . . each stem a complete floral bouquet in
itself. . . that gives vou an average of more than 50 NEW ROSES dav after dav,
week after week, for 8, 9 even 10 weeks in a row during the hot “dog davs”
of summer. . . Enough roses to fill everv room in vour house with color
and fragrance all summer long . . . Enough roses to drench vour terrace
with beautv, to sweep around vour home and flood vour beds, vour borders,
vour walks, vour driveway with solid, living walls of roses all summer long
. . . with just a few plants! And this is the rose you can have blooming
in vour garden now and for years to come, that will make vour grounds the
garden showplaee of the neighborhood, if vou accept this extraordinary flower
offer now! . . . Or, as another example, this description of the results
of a Christmas flashlight projector that shows colored slides of the

Bible: . . . You take out the amazing invention we send vou. You simplv
switch it on. And suddenly even/ person in the room draws in his breath in
excitement and admiration!

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For there before vou on that living room wall—projected four feet wide
bv three feet tall—is one of the most beautiful pictures you have ever
seen! Before vour eves— so real that you can praeticallv reach out and touch
her— is the Virgin Mary holding the Infant Jesus in her arms. The picture
actually glows with exquisite color. You can see every magnificent detail
. . . the animals huddled around the manger . . . the tenderness in the
Virgins eves . . . the smile on the Infant’s face. It’s almost as though
you were actuallv there! Suddenly all the wonderful tales your children have
heard . . . all the meaning and glorv of Christmas . . . come alive before
your children’s eves! Life-sized . . . as tall as vour children . . . scene
after scene parades before them on their living room wall! They actuallv
see the Angel of God announcing the Birth to the Shepherds! Thev witness
the Star of Bethlehem rising over the world! Thev stand side by side with
the Three Wise men in silent adoration! Before their very eyes, thev see
Christ grow to maturity. They watch him astound the elders of the Temple as a
small child. They thrill to his first meeting with John the Baptist. They are
present at the Sermon on the Mount. They witness each of the miracles—see
with their own eves Jesus calming the storm . . . teaching Peter to walk
on the water . . . raising Lazarus from the dead. Can there be any more
thrilling experience? Suddenly every sermon thev have ever heard . . . overv
book thev have ever read . . . every prayer they have ever learned, takes on
new meaning and beauty for them. This is probably the most thrilling hour you
will ever spend with vour children. They will ask you to repeat it time and
time again. These magnificent pictures will continue to thrill and astound
and instruct them for years to come . . . Or, as another example, this
description of the outward appearance of a giant flying plastic model jet:
. . . Yes! Just imagine the expression on vour children’s faces, when they
walk into vour living room just one week from today, and suddenly see this
magnificent model airplane standing in front of them on the living room table!

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Here is a gigantic, three-dimensional, all plastic model airplane—resting
securely on its own triple landing gear— and so huge that its tail section
alone stands six full rnehes from the table! This magnificent model airplane
proudly bears the official colors of Pan American Airways! Its wings and
engines are a dazzling silver! Its fuselage is a gleaming white— with a
brilliant blue stripe stretching back twentv-one inches along the entire
length of the bodv! And stamped on both sides of the huge rudder is the Fan
American World Globe— and the American flag above it. ready to identify
this plane anywhere she goes! Both the wings and the tail section are slanted
diagonally back—ready to cut through the air at 600 scale miles an hour! And
suspended beneath the wings are the four huge engines—each as long and
as thick as vour child’s fingers—each with its own JET SOUND SIMULATOR,
to give your child thrill after thrill after thrill WHEN HE ACTUALLY FLIES
THIS BREATH-TAKING MODEL HIMSELF! . .

Put the Claims in Action 2. Now that you have presented your main description,
you are ready to expand the image. One of the most effective ways to do this
is to PUT THE PRODUCT IN ACTION for your reader. To show, not only how the
product looks, and what benefits it gives the reader, hut exactly how it
does this. As one example, let’s continue with our model jet airplane ad: No
Fuel! No Danger! No Crack-Ups! Yet It Flies 600 Scale Miles An Hour, All Under
Your Complete Control! Pick this magnificent plastic model up from the table.
and hand it to your child. While he holds it, simply attach the U-Control Line
as we show vou to the left wing. Then suspend the model from this control line,
and begin slowlv to swing it through the air. Before your astonished eyes.
you will see one of the most thrilling sights of vour entire life!

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This model is perfectly designed for high-speed flight! As soon as it picks
up power from the motion of vour hand, it will lift up its nose, its wings
will begin to cut through the air, it will flash upward and streak ahead
of vou! As vou give it more and more line, it will turn wider and wider.
fly faster and faster . . . You can flv it in circles only five feet wide,
or you can take it outdoors and flv it in gigantic arcs one hundred feet
wide—the size of an entire eitv lot . . . You can make this plane soar
upward—stall at fantastic heights—dive toward the ground—and then pick
up speed and flash upward again in a breath-taking rescue! . . . You can
spiral this magnificent model down into a perfect landing! You can fly two
or more planes in formation! You can have jet races! You can have an entire
fleet of breathtaking models flown by every member of vour family—and you
can have them for only $1 apiece—less than ONEFIFTH the price you’d pay for
a plastic model of this size and performance! . . . Or, as another example,
this product-in-action description from a brochure selling a self-propelled
fish lure: . . . Think of it! To fuel up this amazing, live-action lure, all
vou do is this. Simply snap open the fuel chamber—pour in the absolutely
harmless fuel—and close the fuel chamber again! . . . Simply cast or lower
that powerpacked lure into fresh or salt water—and get set for the fishing
thrill of your life! For perhaps one minute, the lure will float quietly
on the surface of the water. But then that water will reach the fuel charge
inside—the lure will seem to shudder for a second—and then it will spring
dramatically to “life”! The air around it will be filled with the buzzing
sound of a dying bee! Instantly, the nose of the lure will point downward,
and it will begin its first descent! Slowly, jerkily, like a maimed minnow, it
will swim noisily downward—buzzing and humming—traveling about nine feet
every fifteen seconds! If no fish intercepts it, it will then automatically
stop its descent—slowly raise up its nose— and begin its irresistible
climb to the surface again!

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And again! And again! Tirelessly—hour after hour— lengthening out the
reach of vour own casts! Roaming restlessly oyer eyerv foot of water beneath
vou—even on a slack line—e\*en when your boat is tied up—eyen when you’re
curled up on the dock, sound asleep! . . . And driving the fish around you
into such a frenzy with its swimming and its buzzing that they practically
tear the rod out of vour hands—they’re so anxious to get their mouths into
the hook! . . . Bring In the Reader 3. Or, if vour product lends itself to
this kind of treatment, put your reader right smack in the middle of this
product-in-action story, and give him a verbal demonstration of icJiat will
happen to him the first day he owns that product. For example, this passage
from an ad selling a power booster for the average car: . . . Picture
this to yourself! Next weekend vou go down to vour car—the same tired
car that you’ve been driving for years. You’ve made only one simple change
to that car, so easy that vour sixteen year old son could do it. But now,
when you turn on the ignition, a modern miracle of engineering science comes
to life under your hood! From the very first moment, you’ll see and feel
the difference in that engine! . . . When vou release the emergency brake,
vour car will glide out of its parking space— roll down the street with
vour foot hardlv touching the gas pedal. Every 30 or 40 seconds, you’ll
give that car an extra shot of gas—feeling it spurt ahead—testing the
new power that’s singing underneath vour foot! We ask vou to pull up to
another car at the stop light, of approximately the same year and make as
your own! Wait until the light changes from red to green. Let the other car
start first. Wait till the other car gets half way across the street. And
then slam your foot down on the gas pedal! Before that other car has even
crossed the street, vou will have caught up with him. For one brief second,
vou and that other car will race fender to fender. And then vou

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will flash away from him . . . you will leave him a full block behind
. . . you will look in your rear view mirror and see the startled look of
amazement on the other drivers face! . . .

Show Him H o w to Test Your Claims 4. But there is still more room to expand
the image along these lines. Turn the demonstration into a test. Let your
reader visualize himself proving the performance of your product—gaining
its benefits immediately—in the most specific and dramatic way possible. For
example, in this ad, selling a new kind of spark

plug: . . . when you get your set of SA FIRE L\"JECTORS, here is all you
do. If you have an automatic transmission, make a note of how fast your car
crawls forward when it is in the drive position, with the motor idling. If
vou have a sports car, a racing car or boat, make a note of the RPM’s as
indicated on the tachometer when the engine is idling. If you have regular
transmission, put your car in low gear on a level road and notice its speed
with the motor idling. Next . . . screw your injectors right into the spark
plug openings … Now, if you have an automatic transmission—put vour car
in drive and let your engine idle. If vour car stood still with spark plugs,
it will now move forward at from 4 to 6 miles an hour; that means that the
amount of gas that just kept your engine turning over will now carrv vou up
to 6 miles at no cost to you. If you have a racing or sports car or a boat
with a tachometer, your RPM’s will increase up to 200 more at idling and up
to 300 more at high speeds. If you have regular transmission, in low gear
with vour motor idling your car will move forward 4 to 6 miles per hour
faster. In other words, no matter what vou drive, here is absolute proof
that you can go further, faster and cheaper…

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Or, as another example, this demonstration-test from an ad selling a
memory course, with the headline, “Give Me One Evening and I’ll Give vou a
Push-Button Memory”: . . . Take this book and turn to page 39. Read eight
short pages—no more. And then, put down the book. Review in vour own mind
the one simple secret I’ve shown vou. And then—get readv to test your new
AUTOMATIC memorv! What vou are going to do, in that very first evening,
is this. Without referring to the book, you are going to sit down, and you
are going to write—not five, not ten, but TWENTY important facts that vou
have never been able to memorize before! If vou are a business man, they may
be customers’ orders that you have received . . . if you are a salesman, they
may be twenty different products in your line . . . if vou are a housewife,
they. . . . In any case, vou are simplv going to glance over that list again
for a few moments. You are going to perform a simple mental trick on each one
of these facts—that will burn that fact into vour mind, permanently and
automatically! And then vou are going to put that list away . . . And the
next morning, vou are going to amaze your friends and family! When vou go down
to business, you will attend to everyone of those orders—automatically—
without referring to vour memo pad!. . . . Yes! And you’ll amaze vour friends
by remembering every product in vour line—backwards and forwards—in the
exact order that vou memorized them! You’ll keep every7 single appointment on
time—because one appointment will automatically flash into vour mind after
another—at the precise moment vou need them—exactly as though you pushed
a mental button! All this—in a single evening!. . . . Stretch Out Your
Benefits in Time 5. The number of variations, of fresh, startling viewpoints
is endless. Here is another departure from the product-in-action theme:
showing the product at work, not for just an hour or a

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day, but over a span of weeks and months. Here vou extend vour reader’s
vision further and further into time—showing him a continuous flow of
benefits. This passage is taken from an ad for an English plant food:
. . . First, the amazing English pellets give vour plants a tremendous
new burst of growth! New plants and old— they send out dozens of hidden
shoots and buds! Some of your plants may actually DOUBLE in height and
breadth the verv first month! But this is just the beginning! Within one
or two short weeks—without your even touching vour plant—this amazing
pellet AUTOMATICALLY begins the second stage of its work! It automatically
sends out a second wonder-working nutrient—that enters into even cell
of vour plants’ bodies—that fills those cells with health and strength
and sturdiness . . . Great, tall stems stand up with militarv precision!
Giant buds begin to swell with vigor and vitalitv! Even tired old shrubs
and trees—that you had almost given up for lost—begin to straighten
out—fatten up—send out the voung green growth that you had never hoped
to see again! And then, the most remarkable part of all! Just as these
fantastically beautiful plants have reached their full, glorious height and
strength—at that moment these tinv English pellets automatically liberate
still a third wonderworking ingredient!. . . . And when that third precious
ingredient reaches those buds—then that verv morning vou will open the
door to vour house—AND YOU WILL BE BLINDED BY THE EXPLOSION OF COLOR THAT
GREETS YOU IN YOUR GARDEN! . . . You will see rose bushes weighted down
with masses of blossoms, of a richness and perfume and color you have never
imagined before! You will see dahlias and asters and gladiolas so massive,
so exquisite, so breath-takingly beautiful that you can hardlv believe that
they are the same plants that you put in the ground! And when your neighbors
begin to pour into your vard—when you watch them bend and touch these
flowers to see if they are real—THEN YOU WILL KNOW A FEELING OF GARDEN
ACCOMPLISHMENT AND PRIDE THAT YOU NEVER DREAMED OF BEFORE!. . . .

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Bring In an Audience 6. At the end of this passage, other actors besides
the reader are brought into the scene. Each one of them—each group of
them—provides a fresh new perspective through which your reader can view
the product. Seen through their eyes—experienced through their actions
and reactions—the product performances become new, vivid and completely
different again. These new participants mav be celebrities, who relate
their experiences through the testimonial. This technique is too familiar
to warrant an example here. Or they may be average men and women, whom the
reader easily identifies with, whose experiences are related through narration
or the case history. Probably the most famous example of a narration is the
“They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano” ad quoted in the first section
of this book. Here, as an example of the case-history approach, we use a
passage from a reducing ad: . . . And then, if vou were like the men and women
whose fantastic case histories were reported by leading medical journals,
perhaps vou went to vour doctor and asked him for AN EASY WAY OUT—WITHOUT
TORTURE— AND WITHOUT SLIDING BACK! . . . These doctors had the answer in
a tinv grev pill—and a common-sense plan . . . Thev instructed dozens of
patients to test this miracle plan in their own homes, under these doctors’
supervision. These men and women did NOT give up the foods they loved—thev
simply and naturally cut down on them! Thev were not given anv starvation
diets . . . thev reported, in case after case, that thev felt more pep. more
energy, more youth and vitality than thev had known for years! And then,
dav bv day, faster and easier and safer than they had ever known before,
the uglv excess fat around their bodies melted away! While thev were eating
three delicious meals a dav, thev were shedding as much as five pounds a
week! While thev were feasting on mouth-water-

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ing steaks, thick juicy slices of roast beef, potatoes, butter and bread—they
were losing inch after inch after inch from around their waistlines, their
thighs, their hips. Clothes that they had discarded years before began to come
out of the closets and attics. Men and women both—they beam to notice a new
young look to their chins and faces that thev’d thought thev’d lost forever.
And when the plan was over . . . these men and women had lost as much as 17
and 25 and even 34 pounds . . . thev had turned back their weight clock 5. 10
and even 15 years . . . And their trim, slim figures were just beginning. . . .

Show Experts Approving 7. But not only celebrities and ordinary
people can be used to reaffirm the product benefits. Experts in the
fcld—professionals—the sophisticated, the discriminating, the blase can
be called on to register their reactions. There is nothing so astounding as
the astonishment of experts. Here the elements of surprise, competition and
discovery all combine to sharpen the image even more. This example is taken
from the rose ad mentioned above: . . . Just picture the scene as these
college horticulturists began this amazing flowering test of roses. For
here gathered in a test field were all the highh -praised queens of rosedom
. . . floribundas, hybrid teas, polvanthas, patented roses and rose blends
that today sell lor as high as $3.75 for a single plant. Row upon row of
roses . . . prizewinners in international competition . . . the best the world
has to offer. . . AND THEN, NEARLY WILD STARTED TO BLOOM! Just picture the
astonishment on these experts’ faces when in the first month alone, Nearly
Wild produced over 15 times more blossoms than the average of all other roses
combined; how in July alone it produces an average of 50 new roses a day,
more than 7 times as many blossoms as the second leading rose! How in August
it produced 21 times more roses than its nearest competitor; and then went
on. . . .

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Is it anv wonder that a famous rose expert upon viewing the results of
this test, exclaimed: “Why, it’s like having a complete rose garden of 20
plants—all on a single bush!” Or whv another rose expert, shaking his head in
disbelief, stated: “If we ever released these flowering figures to the public,
they’d never believe it. And if they did believe it, we couldn’t produce
Nearly Wild rose plants to fill the demand in the next 25 vears!”. . . .

Compare, Contrast, Prove Superiority 8. Each new approach suggests others. The
competition can be carried into contrast. The disadvantages of the old
product or service can he laid side by side with the advantages of the
new— throwing these advantages into sharp relief. Here, as one example,
is a brief, three-sentence passage from a book-club radio commercial that
establishes the difference between random buying and book-club savings
indelibly on the listener’s mind: . . . Yes! While vour friends were paying
$3.95 for their copies of Frank Yerbv’s run-away best seller, The Golden Hawk,
Dollar Book Club members were getting the same exact book for only 99c •
While your friends were paying $4.95 for John O’Hara’s flaming new thriller,
A Rage to Live, Dollar Book Club members were getting the same exact book for
only 99c1. And while your friends were paying $5.95 for Thomas B. Costain’s
towering new triumph. High Toicers, Dollar Book Club members were enjoying
exactly the same book—for only 990! • • • Or, as another example,
here is a passage from a direct mail piece selling a Fuel Reclaimer—a
device for the engine of your car that feeds escaping crankcase gases back
into your carburetor: . . . This device uses the suction-power of your own
motor to scoop up that smoke. And then—in one of the most brilliant ideas
in engineering history—it destroys that smoke

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by feeding it back into your engine, where it is burned up again as a
continuous, extra flow of fuel! Think of it! Instead of polluted oil,
polluted engine, polluted air—vou get a constant stream of extra gasoline
flowing into your engine, almost as though vou had a free, second gas tank
connected to vour car! Instead of one breakdown after another, one more repair
bill after another, each more expensive than before you get young-car power,
young-car economy, voung-car resistance to repair bills, because the deadlv
sludge-causers, acid-causers, filth-causers that used to ruin vour car,
are now being burned up as fuel in vour engine!. . , .

Picture the Black Side, Too 9. And there’s no need to neglect the
Heaven-Or-Hell approach. Here the negative aspect to every promise—the
problem that you are liberating your prospect from forever—is painted in all
its full black color. You irritate the wound, and then you apply the salve
that heals it. Thus you derive two currents of motivation—repulsion away
from the former problem or inadequate product, and the attraction generated
by your own product’s contrasting solutions. There are several forms in
which vou can present this beforeand-after picture. You can do it through
narration or the testimonial. You can do it by using the “pitch” technique
of product ridicule. Or you can simply present straight description of the
old product or problem, with all its detailed drawbacks, and then follow
it directly with a similar description of vour new solution in a perfectly
parallel style, item by item. Here, as an example, is a passage from an ad
selling a new kind of spark plug: . . . Someday, if you ever have a spare
moment, lift one of the old-fashioned spark plugs out of vour car! Look at
the bottom of that plug. In 10 seconds, vou’II learn more about gas waste
than any book could teach vou in a vear! If that plug has been in your car
three thousand miles or more, then what you’ll see on the bottom of that plug

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is FILTH! The Firing Point of that plug—the most important single point
in vour car—will be choked, strangled and fouled with BLACK, FILTHY
CARBON! Carbon that robs vour car of as much as 20 vital horsepower everytime
vour engine fires! Now, wipe that filth awav and look at the Firing Point
itself. This is the POWER POINT of your car . . . the pinhead of electricitv
that turns raw gas into 300 horsepower of driving energy! And what is the
condition of that point? CORRODED—PITTED—SCARRED—-AND WORN! Hardlv able
to deliver half the spark that it should! Wasting gas—wasting monev evervtime
vou put vour foot down on the gas pedal! Yes! You pay $2,000—83.000—84.000
for your car. And’ a single 99c part robs vou of the real power and enjovment
of that car. AT LAST! A PLUG SO SMART THAT IT THINKS"! Now look at the new
plug—the re\ olutionarv Power Flash plug that I’ll send vou—for exactlv
the same price that you’re paving today. Here is a plug that has not onlv
ONE firing point— but hundreds of potential firing points! That actuallv
ELIMINATES THAT DEADLY CARBON—burns it up—throws it awav—KEEPS ITSELF
SPARKLING CLEAN ON EVERY SINGLE STROKE! The full, blazing horsepower that
was there when vour car was brand-new, is still there as much as 30.000
miles later. But that’s just the beginning! This plug actually gives
vou the full firing power vou need for everv driving condition—smooth,
dependable power for city stop-and-go driving—effortless horsepower for the
parkway—blazing reserve power for super speeds. . . . And that’s still
just the beginning! Best of all. this is one of the toughest, strongest,
longest-lasting plugs ever made. You could actuallv pound it against a
concrete wall with a hammer without even denting it—and this amazing plug
would still fire clean and hot with 30,000 miles! Yes! These fantastic
plugs give vou such consistent, long-lasting service that we can afford to
make one of the most amazing guarantees vou have ever heard. . . .

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Show H o w Easy It Is to Get These Benefits 10. To repeat again, the
variations are limitless. At everv point that your product touches the life
of vour prospect price, availability, ease of use, durability, portability
replacement and maintenance, even unwrapping the carton it comes in—it
furnishes you with another fresh perspective in which to reiterate and
reemphasize its benefits. Here is just one example—stressing the ease
of application, and contrasting it with the tremendous benefits that that
application gives you: . . . One week from today, vou are going down to your
car. You are going to lift up its hood—vou are going to take the black,
shining can we send you—and vou are going to simply pour its contents into
the oil filler pipe of vour car! that’s all the work you will do! That’s
all the skill vou need! And yet in that 30 seconds work, vou will improve
that cars performance in eight different wavs! With just 30 seconds work,
you will strengthen the engine of that car so greatly that you will get 2
to 3 to 5 miles more per gallon from every gallon vou buv. . . With just
30 seconds work, you will lubricate that engine so thoroughly that you will
drive up to 5.000 full miles without even looking at vour oil. . . And,
with just 30 seconds work, you will protect that engine so completely that
you will add up to four years to its power and life! . . . You will push
off the ring and piston jobs that might cost you $75 each—for vears!.

Use Metaphor, Analogy, Imagination 11. Nor do you have to be satisfied merely
with the statement of rate fact. There are infinite opportunities for the
use of imagination to present those facts in more dramatic form, outside of
the rigidly realistic approach. Some of the more famous examples are the
Alexander Hamilton ad of the Twenties, “The Glory of the Upward Path.” Or
the Big Ben alarm clock series, “First he whispers, then he shouts.” Or this
passage from perhaps the most

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long-lived ad of them all, the Shenvin Cody English Course, in which a manual
of instruction is personified and given actual life: The basic principle of
Mr. Cody’s new method is habit-forming. Anyone can learn to write and speak
correctly bv constantly using the correct forms. But how is one to know
in each case which is correct? Mr. Cod}’ solves this problem in a simple,
unique, sensible way. 100% Self-Correcting Device. Suppose he himself were
standing forever at your elbow. Every time you mispronounced or misspelled
a word, every time you violated correct grammatical usage, every time vou
used the wrong word to express what you meant, suppose vou could hear him
whisper. “That is wrong, it should be thus and so.” In a short time you would
habitually use the correct form and the right words in speaking and writing.
If vou continued to make the same mistakes over and over again, each time
patiently he would tell you what was right. He would, as it were, be an
everlasting mentor beside vou—a mentor who would not laugh at you, but
who would, on the contrary, support and help you. This 100% Self-Correcting
Device does exactly this thing. It is Mr. Cody’s silent voice behind you,
reach’ to speak out whenever vou commit an error. It finds your mistakes
and concentrates on them. You do not need to study anything you alreadv
know. There are no rules to memorize. . . . Before You’re D o n e , Summarize
12. To repeat again, there is an infinite number oi new approaches. No list
of them can ever be complete, because new applications, new perspectives,
new viewpoints are being discovered every day. Which of them, and how many
of them you will use in a single ad, is a matter of timing and balance as you
begin to put your ad together. As long as each additional fresh perspective
continues to huild the dominant desire in your prospect’s mind, use it.

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But if the additional perspective is not different or dramatic enough to
renew your prospect’s interest in your claims, then leave it out. To a large
degree, this is a matter of sensitivity and originality on your part. The
sensitivity comes from intuition and experience; the originality often comes
from nothing more than hard work. And perhaps the best way to measure the
balance between the two— that critical turning point where reinforcement
becomes mere repetition—is to re-read your ad, some davs after vou have
first written it. There are, however, two conventional summary devices
which are almost always used, and which must be mentioned here. The first
of these is the “catalog.” This is a brief condensed listing of all the
product’s performances, benefits, and/or applications, one after the other,
without description, dramatization or elaboration. Each of the benefits
or perspectives which might have been given three or four paragraphs at the
beginning of your ad, is here summed up in a single line. There are two types
of catalogs. Those that expand desire horizontally, among ever-enlargening
groups of applications or prospects. And those that expand desire vertically
bv deepening or magnifying that desire. Here is an example of the first type
of catalog—used to list all the applications of a blow torch kit that might
conceivably sell it to a home owner: ALL IN ONE! Blow-Torch, Paint-Remover,
Soldering Iron! Professional-hpe Propane Torch also doubles as fast, safe
Paint Remover and precision Soldering Iron! Does 101 jobs around the house,
including— Laving tile; removing paint or putt}’; thawing frozen pipes;
sweating copper tubing; soldering gutters; repairing electrical work; starting
charcoal fires and fireplaces: burning weeds, parasites and damp leaves;
thawing frozen locks; light brazing; loosening rusty bolts; car body and fender

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repairs; soldering aluminum, silver and jewelry and other hobbies, and manv,
manv more. . . . It is quite obvious, of course, that this catalog device
uses the “shotgun approach.” Up to this point, vour ad has taken a single
dominant desire, and developed that single desire to the point of absolute
maximum intensity. This willingness to gamble on being precisely right—on
having chosen the one most powerful appeal—gives your ad the impact of a
high-velocity rifle. But it also demands the accuracy of an expert marksman.
Now—through this multi-appeal catalog listing—vou have a last-minute
chance to hedge. Now vou “shotgun” with every wideangled appeal, benefit
and application in the book. Before vou were heightening a single desire,
bv picturing the satisfaction of that desire in a dozen different settings.
Now you are building an effect of a different kind—one of sheer magnitude,
of number, of infinite possibilities—in the hope that any one of them,
or the combination of all of them working together, mav provide the extra
added push that closes the sale. This catalog technique was born in mail
order book selling, and here it has its widest application. This next example
is a continuation of the memory book ad we quoted above: . . . But this is
just the beginning of the “miracles” vou can perform with vour memory. This
secret is just one of the over 50 MEMORY INTENSIFIERS contained in this book…
For instance—REMEMBERING NAMES AND FACES! . . . How would vou like to walk
into a room of twenty new people—meet each one of them onlv once— and
then remember their names, automatically, for as long as vou live . . .
Think of the advantage in business, when vou can call every customer bv
his first name, and then ask for his wife and children, instantly, by their
first names! Think of the impression you’ll make when you ask him about the
state of his business, his hobbies, when vou repeat, almost word for word,
the last conversation vou had with him. Think of

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becoming the celebrity at your club—as the member who “knows everyone”—who
can be depended on to avoid mistakes, to win new friends for the organization,
to get things done! But this is still just the beginning! This book teaches
you to remember exactly what you hear and read! . . . It teaches you how to
memorize a speech or a sales presentation. in minutes! It teaches vou how to
remember every card played when you relax at night! . . . It shows vou how
to improve the depth and force and power of vour mind! How to double your
vocabulary—learn dozens of wavs to burn new words into your memory—learn
their meanings without looking them up—repeat entire phrases, sentences,
paragraphs from the great writers! You’ll be able to learn a foreign language
in a few short weeks—at least three to four times as quickly and easily
as vou could without this system! You’ll be able to hear a joke, storv or
anecdote onlv once, and then repeat it in the same hilarious wav! Yes! And
most important of all, this book will show you how to professionally organize
vour mind—do what vou have to do in half the time! You’ll remember dates,
addresses, appointments—automatically! You’ll carry dozens of telephone
numbers in the file-cabinet of \our mind! . . . Let me send you this book,
and prove these facts to vou in one short evening, or it doesn’t cost vou
a penny! . . .

The second use for this catalog technique is to pile desire upon desire,
rather than application upon application. It is again a building of
magnitude, of number—but this time in summary of all the perspectives
that have gone before. This example is taken from the Fish Lure ad quoted
above: . . . Here’s What This Amazing, Self-Propelled Fish Lure Does For You!
First of all, this Self-Propelled Fish Lure frees vou forever from the filthy
task of digging for worms and crawlers, catching frogs, or paying 500 to
$1 for a bucket of minnows that die on you before vou can even get them in
the boat! It frees you forever from paving $3, 84 or even 85 for a fancy,
“dead-as-a-duck” lure that onlv works when

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vou tow it—that could never actually swim under its own power behind vou!
It frees vou forever from long, torturous hours of careful work, tving your
own flies and lures, because you just couldn’t buy anything, anywhere, that
would reach out bevond vour farthest casts, and pull in the fish for you!
It means that tomorrow . . . you can go out in fresh or jalt water . . . and
haul in the -eye-poppers with a lure that s actuallv drives them into a
frenzy with its crippled minnow action and its dying bee sound! It means
that you can weigh down vour boat with bigmouthed bass, small mouthed bass,
cat-fish, dog-fish . . . wherever you drop a line! It means that you can
fish better—novice or p r o sound asleep at the bottom of your boat—than
most fishermen sweating and casting till their arms ache with ordinary,
“dead-as-a-duck” lures! And it means that you’ll have the time of your life—
not only amazing your friends and family with the hauls vou drag home behind
you—but just watching your fisherman friends’ faces, the first time they see
this incredible SELF-PROPELLED FISH LURE in action! Their eves will almost
pop out of their heads!. . . . Put Your Guarantee to Work 13. And finally,
as you close the sale, as you ask the prospect for action, as you state the
terms of your guarantee, you can turn that guarantee into the climax of your
ad—the last brief summary of your product’s performances—reinforced at
every step by the positive reassertion of that guarantee. Here is an example
from the spark plug ad quoted above: . . . Guaranteed For Two Full Years!
Yes! You try these amazing POWER FLASH SPARK PLUGS for two full years entirely
at our risk! First, test them for one full month for surging power, thrilling
new driving performance, breath-taking gas-savings alone! D uring that very
first month alone 1. These plugs must give you up to 9 miles more per gallon
instantly—or your full purchase price back!

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2. These plugs must give vou up to 31 more horsepower instantly—or your
full purchase price back! 3. As an extra added assurance—these plugs must
continue to give vou this power, performance and gas savings FOR TWO FULL YEARS
—or we will send vou a brandnew set ABSOLUTELY FREE! . . . Or, as an even
better example of the full impact vou can gain by using your guarantee as a
summarv device, here is the guarantee passage from the plant food ad quoted
above: . . . These Magic English Pellets . . . cost onlv S2.98 for a package
of 144 pellets . . . Since onlv one or two pellets are required to treat the
average plant, this is an investment of only a few pennies a plant for the
most astounding beautv vou have ever seen! And these results are completelv
guaranteed! Here is what we ask you to do, when vou receive vour Magic Pellets
next week— USE THEM TO CREATE SUPER-FLOYYERS! Place one tiny pellet besides
each of your hvdrangeas. zinneas . . . any kind of flower that you want
super-blooms! And if vou don’t see fantastic new growth within a few short
weeks . . . ii you don’t watch with amazement while handfuls of new blossoms
burst forth from these old plants—then simplv return the emptv package
for everv cent of vour monev back! USE THEM TO CREATE SUPER-VEGETABLES!
And pick huge, breath-taking beauties within a few short weeks . . . thrill
your family with the sweetest, juiciest, tenderest vegetables you’ve ever
known—or everv cent of vour money back! YES! USE THEM IN YOUR ENTIRE GARDEN!
Use them on hard-luck plants where vou’ve almost given up hope! Use them on
the hardest-to-grow house plants that you know! Yes, even use them in sand,
and absolutely astound your friends! And if you don’t agree that this British
invention is a true gardening miracle . . . if vour garden isn’t the showplace
of your neighborhood at the end of one short month—then simply return the
empty package—for evencent of vour money back!. . . .

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At the end of vour ad as well as at its beginning—Intensification—building
desire by presenting continually new images of its satisfaction through
your product. The first of the Processes of Persuasion. How to Apply These
Principles of Intensification to the Campaign As mentioned at the beginning
of this chapter, we have used predominantly mail order examples to illustrate
the mechanism of Intensification. We have done this for two reasons. First,
because mail order customarilv uses long copv and hyperbole; and it is through
the extremes ol this long copv and these superlatives that we can see these
techniques working most clearly. Secondly, we have used mail order for
these examples because mail order says all it has to sav about a product in a
single ad. There are no mail order “campaigns,” in the sense of a series of
different-though-related advertisements, appearing one after the other, and
based on a common theme. Mail order compresses such a campaign into a single
ad. It savs all it can, everything it can think of, in this one ad (which is
often laboriously fitted together out of a series of preliminary ads, each of
which contributes some element to the finished form). And then, when it has
proven itself successful, it is frozen—even to the point of typography—and
run until it has exhausted its potential. Thus, mail order as a rule contains
the greatest number of these Intensification devices in a single ad; and bv
studying these mail order ads we can see them working against each other,
complementing each other, reinforcing each other, strengthening the overall
effect as paragraph is piled on paragraph. But in national advertising, the
rules change. While mail order is a series of introductions of new products,
the average life of which is less than two years, national advertising is
concerned with products whose life span is far greater, often approaching
the entire life span of advertising itself. And while the

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mail order advertisement runs once, and then is not repeated for three to
six months, national advertising must keep its product image constantly
in front of its public, and therefore must run far more frequently. Thus,
national advertising, by its frequent insertions, soon loses its immediate
novelty. The creative problem in national advertising thus changes from finding
the theme for a particular advertisement to finding the theme for a series of
advertisements. And the problem of Intensification shifts from building desire
throughout the advertisement to building desire throughout the series. And
an entirely new problem of balance emerges—that of keeping continuity
throughout the series, hy maintaining the dominant image sharp enough and
identifiable enough to utilize the desire generated hy past advertisements,
and at the same time varying that image sufficiently to induce the prospect
to read it again, and therefore reinforce and sharpen that desire. Assuming
that you have found your dominant image, vour creative problem now becomes
two-fold. First, to compress that image into a single statement or picture,
so powerful that it will sell the product the very first time it is used,
and so true to the heart of your market that it will continue to sell that
product, even when it is used over and over again. It is important to realize
that—as the campaign develops— this dominant image or idea cannot remain
as the headline. To present the same basic headline (or lead picture) time
after time to the same audience would soon make the campaign unreadable This
leads us to your second creative problem. To present a series of variations or
perspectives of that central image—each emerging from your dominant idea,
but each so different from the rest that they impel your prospect to read
through them, and so fresh that they make that dominant idea seem new again.
Thus you have your Central Campaign Idea, and its continuous restatement
in a series of fresh disguises There are as many different ways to use this
basic technique of campaign construction as there are advertising styles. They

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range from the most blatant and obvious to the most subtle. To start at
the top, in a brief resume of examples, consider the superbly-effective
Colgate campaign of the late 1950s. Here the centra] idea was openly stated,
and precisely repeated, during every advertisement: “Gardol—the Invisible
Shield that Protects Your Teeth.” The variations consisted of a scries of
opening analogies. Using television as the most sharplv-deflned example,
an invisible shield was shown protecting the announcer against baseballs,
footballs, etc.—against which thev would simply bounce off. The wording of
the commercials was ritualistic. Once the initial demonstration was over, there
was no variation in the sentences that followed: “Just as this invisible shield
(the announcer raps the shield with his knuckles) protects me against this
baseball, so the invisible shield in Colgate toothpaste protects your teeth
against decay.” Here the variations are confined to the opening demonstration
in the first ten seconds of the commercial. These are designed to startle the
viewer (the ball being thrown directly at him from within the television set)
and this emotional reaction is carried over to reinforce the rigidlv repeated
remainder of the commercial. Thus vou have a quick and startling emotional
involvement, welded onto a precise selling message. Equallv as powerful
is the technique of repeating the exact verbal image throughout a series of
advertisements, while varying and freshening the emotional appeal through a
spectrum ol constantly changing main illustrations. Thus the dominant image
is retained intact—continuity is maintained—but there is no feeling
of over-familiarity or boredom. This technique might be named “Rule and
Example.” Two of its most effective uses recently have been in the hair
styling field. First with Toni, where the preciselyrepeated verbal image was:

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WHICH TWIN HAS THE TONI—and which has the $15 permanent?” Above this
unvarying headline was a continuouslv-changing stream of pretty girls—each
new picture making the question new again, and requiring an interplay
of examination between the picture and the copy to discover the answer.
The same technique was used, some vears later, bv Clairol to sell their
hair tint. Here the Rule was expressed in the preeiselvrepeated headline:
DOES SHE OR DOESN’T SHE 0 “Hair-coloring so natural only her hairdresser
knows for sure.” Here again, this headline was re-invigorated bv a series
of main illustrations, of attractive young women, in common but glamorized
every-day activities, enjoying their lives. Here again. the Examples not only
proved the Rule, but renewed it. At the other extreme, however, the dominant
image mav not even appear in the advertisements themselves, but mav merelv
be the underlying theme for the campaign as a whole. Here the continuity
is retained—not by a precisely-repeated slogan or statement—but by a
single, rigidly-maintained focal point. This focal point may be a dominant
product appeal—such as the Cadillac quality7, which is symbolized in every
Cadillac advertisement in the identification background photography, in the
typography, in the copy style, in the fashions and jewelry that are chosen
to appear with the car, and the credit lines that are given to them— even
to the highly-stylized pen-and-ink drawings that are used when the campaign
shifts to newspapers. Or, if it so merits, the focal point may be simply
the product itself. In such a campaign, each succeeding advertisement reveals
another fact about the product. Each is completely different; no single phrase
or slogan is repeated twice. Here trie variations comprise the entire verbal
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their subject-matter, and the illustrations, are alwavs the same— the
product. Perhaps the best example of this technique is the magnificent
Volkswagen magazine campaign. Here the advertisements are reduced to severe
simplicity. There is no background identification whatsoever. Different
perspectives of the product are shown as close-up as possible (except in
the “Think Small” advertisement) against an absolutely bare background.
Against this rigid focus on the car itself, to the exclusion of every other
visual element, the series of copv messages presents a complete exploration
of even facet of the car’s performance, utility, economy, durability service
facilities and what-have-vou. Any single advertisement is sufficient to
interest a prospective buyer. Together, especially when concentrated in
the same media and reaching the same audience week after week, the series
builds an overwhelming impression of novelty and value—the theme of an
Honest Car. Here, as examples, are only a few of the dozens of different
headlines: “THINK SMALL.” (The first in the series, discussing the merits of
compactness as an asset.) “Lemon.” (Showing what appears to be a perfectly
good car, and discussing the microscopic, almost unnoticeable flaw in it that
disqualified it.) “Our new model.” (A car that shows no difference, but has
dozens of essential engineering changes inside the car, where thev won’t make
present models obsolete.) “Why you should open the icindoio before you close
the door of a Volkswagen.” (Discussing the fact that the car is airtight,
and the quality that this fact symbolizes.) “Our number one salesman.”
(The serviceman, of course, hpifying the quality of care

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the VW owner gets, and combatting the conception that foreign cars give
sparse service.) And so on. A series of building-block advertisements,
making no attempt to tell the complete storv in themselves, relying on their
ability to grasp the prospective buver and carrv him through a procession of
short, sharply focussed sales stories that combine to give an informed desire
of tremendous depth. Notice, incidentally, that each of these headlines
fulfills the requirements necessary to place it at the top of an ad. Each of
them reaches out and touches the prospect at the point of his dominant desire
(to get more value for his car monev). Each expresses the common theme of
the campaign (this is an honest car). And each moves the prospect into the
body copy—it gets him to read the complete, though brief, selling message
(The first second, third and fifth headline do this through presenting
the reader with an apparent contradiction—in the first case, with his
accepted notion of “thinking big,” and in the remaining advertisements,
between the message of the headline and the content of the photograph above
it—thus compelling the reader to go through the body copy to resolve
the contradiction. The fourth does it In- promising the reader information
explaining an unusual and provocative request). Notice also that to accomplish
this noveltv-within-eontinuitv, and to grasp the attention of the prospect
oxer a series of advertisements, and to move him into the bodv copy where
he can be sold more thoroughly, each of these headlines takes the “Creative
Gamble.” The product, its trademark, or its performance is not mentioned in
the headline. The copy writer is taking the position that he can only sell
adequately with the number of words allowed him by the body copy. Therefore
he is willing to risk his headline in grasping the attention of his prospect
and impelling him to read on, into the sales message itself, presented
in convincing detail below. If he fails in his gamble, he has wasted his
page. If he succeeds, he has doubled and tripled the effectiveness of his ad.

8 THE SECOND TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: IDENTIFICATION

How to Build a Saleable Personality Into Your Product The desires, wants,
needs and cravings of mankind that we have just discussed are, above all,
obvious. The hungry man feels the contractions in his stomach: the sick
man feels his pain. The woman who is overweight feels her embarrassment,
her discomfort, her shame. The desire for satisfaction, or for relief,
displays itself openly. It announces both its wants and its needs. It
responds whole-heartedly and immediately to mechanisms that achieve its aims.
Therefore, the recognition and magnification of this desire is the first and
most obvious task of copy writing. All the principles and techniques described
in the last chapter were practiced to perfection by the patent-medicine
copy writers of the 1890’s. Before the First World War, Claude Hopkins had
lifted them out of patent-medicine and established them in every category
of general advertising. Until 1954, they literally dominated advertising. 107

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But there is another kind of desire that exists in the human mind—far
more subtle, partly unconscious, longing not for satisfaction, but for
expression. This second kind of desire is so different from the first,
and operates under such different rules, that it can justly be described
as a second dimension of the human mind. It ma}- be titled the Longing for
Identification. Its rise to prominence as a buying motive marks the great
revolution in merchandising of our time. Its utilization in copy writing—as
an adjunct to desire-building—constitutes our second Mechanism of Persuasion
. . . that of building the proper Identification into vour product.

A Personal Note Let me just inject a personal note here on the names I
have given these Techniques—or processes—I believe you should use
to cumulatively strengthen your copy. As I mention in the Introduction,
I have never heard, or read, a discussion of mam- of these techniques
before. Therefore, they are not part of the common advertising terminology,
and in case after case actually have no names. ^ Because of this fact, I’ve
had to invent names for them. Some of these names convey their meaning at
first glance, such as Intensification. Other names I’ve put together out of
two or more ordinary words, such as Gradaalization, to try to convey an idea
that has purposely been left ambiguous when you first encounter it. And in
still other cases, such as the Identification technique discussed in this
chapter, I’ve used terms you’ already know and stretched their meaning.
Identification here, for example, means more than the customer’s process
of identifying with a product personalitv, or even with a group of prestige
users of that product. Here, in this new context I have given it, it means
at the same time the active process by which the copy writer capitalizes on
this need for

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identification by building its realization through his copv into his product.
The stress is always, in all these techniques, on the word active. These
are the activities vou must accomplish . . . the processes vou must utilize
. . . the psychological effects vou must achieve to give your copy the maximum
possible strength. It is this active, deliberate, ongoing process—this
building of effects— that I have tried to convey bv these terms. The Roles
Your Prospect Desires What, exactly, is this process of Identification? Quite
simply, it is, first of all, the desire of your prospect to act out certain
roles in his life. It is the desire of your prospect to define himself to the
world around him—to express the qualities within himself that he values,
and the positions he has attained. And how do you utilize this longing
for identification when you write your copy? In two ways: First, bv turning
your product into an instrument for achieving these roles. And second, by
turning that product into an acknowledgement that these roles have already
been achieved. Every product you work on should offer vour prospect two
separate and distinct reasons for buying it. First, it should offer him the
fulfillment of a physical want or need. This is the satisfaction your product
gives him. And second, it should offer him a particular method of fulfilling
that need, that defines him to the outside world as a particular kind of
human being. This is the role your product offers to vour prospect. It
is the non-functional, super-functional value of that product. And it is
built into that product—not bv engineering—but by merchandising alone.
For example, only the poor man today buvs food for its physical satisfactions
alone. The average American today selects

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his food. Selects foods that he believes are modern, because he wishes to be
up-to-date. Selects foods that are non-fattening, because he wishes to be
youthful and slim. Selects foods that come from every country and reflect
every taste on earth, because he wishes to be cosmopolitan, adventurous
and sophisticated. This man no longer buys food for food alone. He has
gained. or he has been given, a whole new vocabulary of wants. He now
buys, not only objects, but roles. His life becomes devoted to a quest for
acknowledgements—"up-to-date" . . . “youthful” “slim” . . . “cosmopolitan”
. . . “adventurous” . . . and “sophisticated” in this one instance alone.
And because of this multiplication of wants, this man gives you hundreds of
new ways to focus his attention, to stimulate his desire, to build up that
desire to the point of purchase. Evennew role that he covets—every new
longing-for-identification that he develops—gives you one more mass desire
that you can harness to your product. What are these roles? Where do they
come from? How do they operate? How do you put them to work for your product?
First of all—the roles themselves. There are two kinds. There are roles
that define character. And there are roles that express achievement. Let’s
glance brieflv at each: 1. Character Roles Usually expressed by adjectives,
or adjectives-turned-nouns. For instance—"progressive" . . . “chic”
. . . “charming” . . . “brilliant” . . . “well-read.” They are a part of the
personality of vour prospect. They belong to him. His task is to pick out
the ones he values most, and to develop them. And then to turn the spotlight
of other people’s attention onto them, one after the other. Attainment of
these character roles—masterv of them—is not enough. Once they have
been mastered, thev must then be acknowledged, valued and admired, or thev
are worthless. Here again, your product can serve your prospect in three

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distinct ways—beyond its physical satisfactions—in this constant search
for self-definition. First, it can help him achieve mastery of his chosen
character roles—such as a book on philosophy, if he wishes to be thought
of as well-read. Second, it can help simplify condense or speed up this
mastery—such as a Speed-Reading Course. And third, and most important,
it can serve as a symbol of that mastery to invoke the acknowledgement or
admiration of his friends—such as a shelf to house both books. You must
realize that every one of these values goes far bevond the physical
satisfactions of the products themselves. They are supra-functional, and
therefore add an extra incentive for purchase. The book on philosophy might
not have been purchased if the prospect wished onlv to satisfy his academic
curiosity, and did not also wish to enlighten his friends in conversation. The
Speed-Reading Course might not have been purchased if the prospect wished
only to absorb more information in a shorter period of time, and did not also
wish to use that information to get ahead in both his business and social
life. And certainly the bookshelves would not have been of the same fine
quality-, finish and luxury if the prospect had onlv wished to use them as a
storehouse, and not also as a showpiece. At least half of all purchases made
today cannot he understood in terms of function alone. It would be absurd for a
man to spend $5,000 for a 150-mile-an-hour sports car for functional reasons,
when he onlv uses it to drive to and from work on congested, 35-mile-an-hour
parkways. His willingness to spend this money onlv becomes rational when vou
take one further fact into consideration—that this 150-mile-an-hour top
speed, this handgear-shift, this fantastic cornering ability all give him as
their owner the role of "sportsman"—and very probably “successful sportsman”
at that. Every product can benefit from this role-giving power. But there
are many products where this ability of character-reinforce-

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ment—whether built into that product by design, bv society or by
advertising—far outweighs in sales value the built-in performance of
that product. In such products, it is the role-giving function that sells,
and not the performance. One further fact distinguishing these character
roles. Since they are not created by society but by the prospect himself, and
since they are almost never claimed openly but only hinted at. implied and
prompted, therefore they can never truly be tested or measured, and they
are ambiguous. They are subject to error. And, more important, they are
subject to fantasy. Great areas of these character roles literally exist in
the subconscious. They are never given definite words. They are not stated
or discussed, but subtly expressed in symbols and images. Only rarely
does the prospect even define them to himself. And even more rarely does
he test them against the outside world, to see if they are actually true.
Therefore, your prospect is far more reach to believe in the character roles
you assign to him, than he is to believe in either your product’s performance
claims, or the achievement roles it may offer him. If the character role is
flattering, such as “virility,” and if it is subtly expressed in a non-verbal
image-svmbol, such as a test pilot smoking a cigarette, than the prospect can
easily persuade himself that the same action, smoking, performed on the same
product, the cigarette, conveys to him at least some of the implied virility
of the genuine possessor—in this case, the pilot. There is no direct claim
made in the advertisement. No verbalization to be passed on by the conscious,
rational mind. No test situation called for where the prospect must prove that
the role is valid. Acceptance is easy painless, non-demanding. This is not
true of a performance claim, which must be justified in terms of concrete
results to our friends. Nor is it true of an achievement role, which must
stand up to the harsh reality of our position in everyday life. This superb
ease-of-acceptance, this consolation-without-cost feature of the character
role is its

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great ^trgrigth, and the reason why it should be used to supplement the
verbal claims in every ad. 2. Achievement Roles These are the status
roles . . . class roles . . . position roles that are created by every
society on earth, and offered to the men and women who can earn them. In a
civilization as complex as ours, there are literally hundreds of them—usually
expressed bv nouns, with the nouns serving as titles. For example, for
men, there are—"Executive" . . . “Home Owner” . . . “$20,000-a-year-Man”
. . . “Five Handicap” . . . “ManOn-His-Way-Up” . . . “Block Chairman”
. . . and dozens more, embracing every activity of our lives. For women, the
primary achievement role to be won is “Wife,” and from then on—"Fashion
Setter" . . . “Career Woman” . . . “Good Mother” . . . “Civic Leader”
. . . “Power-Behind-the-Throne” . . . “Patron of the Arts” . . . and on,
and on. The list, for both men and women, is endless. Each of these roles
is an achievement to be won, and held, and—most of all— displayed.
Here display is vital—because none of these achievements is obvious. Quite
the opposite, they are immaterial and invisible—mere titles, roles, bundles
of privilege. They do exist—thev are real—and once they are gained, thev
have great potential to alter our lives. But that potential must first be
translated into physical symbols of success, for everyone around us to see.
And the easiest and most universally acknowledged symbols of success in
America today are the products we can buy. Products that are purchased—not
by any stretch of the imagination for their physical function alone—but
for the definition they give us as their possessors. In America today we
are known—not only by the company we keep—but by the products we own.
The most obvious example is the newly-wed woman. Her first act in her new
role as “Wife” is to receive a physical gift,

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which has absolutely no function other than to define her—the wedding
ring in which she is married. Weeks before this, she has literally been
shedding closets-full of clothes—clothes that still fitted her physically,
but not socially—in order to replace them with a new material personality,
her trousseau. Her sheets and linens are new. Her furniture and carpeting
are new. Even the very roof over her head, todav, in our societv. must be
new. Because she is literally a new woman—her new role has transformed
her—and she must express that transformation in everything she owns.
The same principle applies to every aspect of all of our lives. Every social
role that we achieve in life is immediately translated into those possessions
which we believe express that position most clearly. And as we acquire
these possessions throughout our life. what we are doing is constructing
for ourselves a “material personality,” that we carry with us wherever we
go, and whose function it is to define us, instantly, to whomever we meet.
The “Man-On-His-Way-Up,” for example, trades in his Ford for a Buick, and,
when he becomes an “Executive,” trades in his Buick for a Cadillac. The
“Career Woman” needs an entirelv different wardrobe than the one she owned
as a “Housewife.” And when the man of the house gets a raise, the house
either grows bigger, or prettier, or more filled with status-definers of
every description—or the house itself is discarded, to be replaced by
one more befitting the new character of its possessor. How to Put These
Longings for Identification to Work for Your Product Thus products become
more than products. In addition to their physical functions, they take on
new immaterial functions as status definers. They announce our achievements,
define our role in life, document our success. All products may benefit
from this power to define. But in particular, when you have a product that
does the same job as its

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competitors, and is so priced that price is no longer a factor, then the
prospect’s choice will almost overwhelmingly depend on the difference in
role that your product offers him. And it is vour job to create this role
for him in your ad. The performance of this job—the process of building
these character and achievement roles into vour product, to be used bv
vour prospect—is the process of Identification, our second mechanism of
persuasion. And just as the wish for this identification by vour prospect
is a special form of desire—the desire, not for satisfaction, but for
recognition—so the method vou use to put it to work for your product follows
exactly the same pattern of discovery and magnification that you would use
for anv other desire. First, your job is to discover exactly what kinds of
character and achievement roles vour prospect is readv to identify with vour
product—what kind of roles he will reject for that product—and which
of the accepted roles is the most compelling. And then you must present
those chosen roles in such a wav— so vividly and so intensely—that the
role vou are projecting will become virtually irresistible. Once again,
it is vour market itself that presents vou with both your opportunities
and vour limitations. And it is vour own personal skill as a copy writer
that determines how effectively vou side-step those limitations, and how
fullv you realize the potential of vour opportunities. First of all—the
limitations. Above everything else, of course, you cannot force your market to
accept an unrealistic identification. People assign certain characteristics
to certain products. These characteristics may arise out of the product
itself—its structure or performance, its historv, its cost to produce or
sell. Or thev may stem from the role or roles that it plavs in their lives
today—or that similar products play in their lives—or that these products
plav in the lives of other people, whom thev have seen, heard or read about.
These characteristics may be true or false, superficial or

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profound, flattering or libelous. But as far as your product is concerned,
they are as hard as rock—and just as determinative. They exist. They are
facts. They cannot be changed. If you try to break through them and establish a
contradictory image, vou will learn that they form the walls of a prison. But
if you decide to build on to them—to use them as a foundation for sharper,
coordinated images, which may be even broader and more appealing—then, if
necessary, you can turn those apparent limitations into the strongest selling
points in your ad. Not every product needs this technique, of course. Speaking
in terms of identification potential, there are two kinds of products. One
is the product with built-in prestige—the sports car, the swimming pool,
the diamond bracelet. These rare and expensive products already embody the
identification appeals most Americans want. They actually symbolize these
appeals success, achievement, adventure, self-indulgence, exclusivity—so
unquestionably that they can be used to weld these same values onto other
products. But these other products—by far the overwhelming majority of the
products you will be given to work with—have no such built-in prestige. It
is up to you to create their prestige for them. And you must do this by
building on the characteristics they already possess—by using these accepted
characteristics as a bridge—between the product. . . the image it already
has . . . and the prestige-filled image that you want to wind up \vith.
We now have all the tools we need to build identification values for our
product. We realize that identification longings are a separate and immensely
powerful form of desire—a desire, not for physical satisfaction, but for
expression and recognition. These longings for identification are two-fold. We
all wish to express our character, and we all wish to gain recognition for
our accomplishments. But we cannot do this openly—verbally. We cannot go
around boasting how virile we are, or how rich we are. So we svmbolize

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these prestige claims. We express them in terms ol products— and we buy
products that express them. As Americans, living in our culture and our
century, there are certain character roles and certain achievement roles
that we value more than others. The most general and compelling of these
are: the wish to be virile or feminine—the wish to be exciting, unique,
fun-filled and adventurous—the wish to be friendly and well-liked—the
wish to be important, influential and correct— the wish to be modern and
up-to-date—and. above all, the wish to be successful, to make something
of our lives. These are the roles most Americans buv. In some splinter
markets, other, contradictory roles mav apply. But, in the mass, these are
the characteristics that will turn the prospects from one brand to another.
The Primary Image of Your Product There is a critical point that separates
the process of building identification from the process of building desire,
namely, that the product you are given has its men personality at the moment
you are given it. It has its own characteristics. And these characteristics
may contradict what most Americans want—or simply not include them—or
simply not include as many of them as you want. For example, a cigarette
is not, by itself, a symbol of success. But vou realize that if you could
make it a symbol of success, you could sell many more of them. Nor is a
piston ring, by itself, a svmbol of virility—even though that virility
image, if vou could create it, would sell manv more piston rings. And,
though household appliances are not, at first glance, symbols of femininity,
women would buv manv more of them if thev could somehow be made feminine.
How do you do this? In two steps—the first of which is to identify the
primary image that each of these products already has in the mind of your
prospects. For instance, a cigarette is

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virile in almost everyone’s mind. And a piston ring is precisionmachined and
full of mechanical beauty to almost every man. And household appliances
are time-saving, by virtue of tlie ven functions they perform. These are
the primary images of the products vou are called on to sell. These are the
accepted images that thev alreadv have in your prospect’s mind. Your job
now is to use ‘these alreadvaccepted images as raw material, as a starting
point to construct new, double, triple and quadruple images, that draw in
more of these most-wanted roles into your product-personality, and multiply
its identification appeal. You do this in two wavs: First, by changing the
intensity of your primary image. Bv emphasizing and dramatizing that primary
image, if it is alreadv acceptable. Or by toning it down, if it is negative
or neutral. For example, the male virility naturally associated witli
cigarettes is a definite sales aid, even with women. The sheer physical act
of smoking—of “playing with fire”—of “breathing fire”—has been for
centuries an assertion of manhood and of daring. But Marlboro took this
image of virilitv- and intensified i t deepened it—in three ways. First,
they presented men who were. in themselves, virile. Second, they presented
these men in situations or occupations that demand virility. And third,
thev took the further “Creative Gamble” of affixing to these men’s hands one
of the most primitive symbols of virilitv- known to history—the tattoo.
A single dominant emotion—virilitv-—symbolized three ways. The impact
of repetition reinforced through variation. Far more powerful—far more
eye-catching—far more appealing than anyone of these images could have
been by itself. So far, there has been no difference between this technique
and the intensification of desire we discussed previously. Although we are
speaking here in visual terms, the mechanics are exactly the same—the
intensification of an already-existing emo-

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tion in your prospect, through a series of reinforcing images expressing the
fulfillment of that emotion. With certain, naturally-favored products, this
process of intensification may be all that is required—though even Marlboro,
as mentioned below, goes beyond it. But—and this point is imperative—though
the process of intensifying desire for your product ends here, the process of
building the proper identification for your product—of building prestige for
that product—only- begins here. For the primary image of vour product may
not be favorable. It may be negative—contradicting the roles most people
want to play. Or it may simply be neutral—a wallflower product—offering
most people no emotional reaction at all. In both these cases, your first
suggestion may be to simply discard these primary images altogether, and
substitute more favorable ones. This has been done in countless advertisements.
And it doesn’t work—for a very simple reason. Because people just won’t
believe that a product is what it isn’t. You cannot contradict accepted
images or beliefs in advertising. This is not advertising’s role. Nor is
it really necessary. In order to overcome these unfavorable images, you
simply incorporate them in a larger, overall image—lower their emotional
intensity—and use them as readily-accepted bridges to lead your prospect into
far more compelling appeals. How to Build New Images Into Your Product This is
a single process, but it is made up of two steps. First, as mentioned above,
a change in the intensity of your primaryimage—in this case, subordinating
it even though you retain it. And second, using it as a logical link to bring
in any number of more favorable images. One of the most striking examples is
the Chesterfield ad of 1926—"Blow Some My Wax"—fully examined in Chapter 3.

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Here is pure identification advertising—dealing with an unfavorable image of
two generations’ standing—that cigarettes are a “man’s product.” Although the
objective of the campaign was to make smoking, and smoking situations, more
acceptable to women, it would have been impossible to do this bv picturing
the woman alone. The idea that women would practice this Masculine act
in private, or with each other, was inadmissible. Therefore the man must
be retained. The accepted image must be acknowledged. But he undergoes
two vital transformations. First, he is subdued. His figure is darkened,
almost blended into invisibility with the background. And his position in
the picture—his posture— the arrangement of his hands and face as the
light plavs over them—all direct the attention of the viewer past the man
himself and into the focal point of the picture, the woman sitting beside him.
Thus he becomes a mere suggestion of man, leading the viewer into a far more
appealing overall image—that of a handsome young couple, alone together
on a moonlit beach, heightened emotionally with the carefully-blended-in
suggestions of escape, intimacy, and a sense of shared daring. Because
the primary image is there—because the smoking is done by the man—the
viewer, even a well-brought up woman of the 1920s, accepts the situation. But
this acceptance, once established, goes far beyond that primary image. This
feminine viewer is also willing to accept the romance of the overall scene—
including its emotional undertones of escape from the conventional rules and
boundaries, and its feelings of relaxation and liberty. She is now willing
to project herself into this scene. And in accepting the scene as a whole,
she is finally led to accepting the climactic words, “Blow some mv way,”
as being a perfectly natural and acceptable action for her to take, with all
its implications for her conduct in the future. This, then, is the process
of identification—of building prestige for your product. To weave favorable
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images into the personality of your product, in order to reinforce and even
dominate those primary images that your product already has. There is onlv
one limit to the number, or the range of favorable images that vou can add
to that product personality. Simply that you must always include the primary
image as their base. They must emerge from that primary image, and thev
must be logically consistent with its broadest definition. For example, to
return to Marlboro, once vou have developed the primary image to its peak of
intensity then there is absolutely nothing to stop vou from weaving other
powerful appeals into this base. Connotations of success can be included
bv the model’s clothes, such as the tuxedo worn in the first ads, or bv
the possessions he holds. Adventure and excitement can be suggested by the
situation you picture him in, such as on a boat, in a plane, riding horseback,
etc. Romance bv a voung girl, mvsterv and affairs of great importance bv a
dark background or a briefcase, culture and intellectual achievement bv a
rare book or an antique telescope. As a matter of fact, many visual symbols,
bv themselves, communicate several different roles of great appeal at the
same time. For example, the single image of ownership of a fine painting
mav express, not only success, but also cultural breeding and intellectual
accomplishment. Such multi-image symbols perform two vital tasks for vour
product. They broaden the size of its market bv grafting on new emotional
appeals—social and character identifications that reach into the fringe
areas of that market—that intrigue people who would not be sufficiently
swaved bv the pure functional values of your product. And second, bv adding
in these manv-sided emotional images, thev deepen and intensify the emotional
attraction felt for your product bv all the men and women who make up that
market. Perhaps this can best be shown bv taking a hypothetical example,
of a product with strictly neutral primary images, and

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developing, and weaving together, a network of far stronger emotional images
for it. Let’s start with piston rings, and assume that a new tvpe of piston
ring has just been developed, that lasts longer and therefore saves oil and
gas. Our body copy, of course, develops this saving theme. We have exploited
the functional advantages of the product as far as possible. We are now ready
to reinforce these benefits by expanding the product’s social and character
appeals. We start by taking inventory. We have a prodiret—piston rings. It
has only a few primary images—mechanical, precisionmade, unseen. Nothing
exciting here. It also has a primary situation—replacement, and always
by a mechanic, and usually onlv when there’s trouble. These primary images
are either neutral or negative. But they’re all we have to work with. They,
and they alone, must form the foundation, must set the direction, for
every other appeal we bring into the over-all image we are constructing.
So we know that we must deal with the act of replacement, and that the
replacement must be done by a mechanic. These are our limitations—but once
we observe them, we turn them into the starting point for the true emotional
message ice want to broadcast through our ad. We take each of these primary
elements, and glamorize, dramatize and emotionalize them to the brink.
The car itself—what kind of car shall it be? Certainly not a beat-up
family sedan. Why not a Mercedes SL-300—a $12,000 sports car with its
distinctive grill-work sides, and all the emotional extras of power, speed,
skill-in-handling, plus sophistication, success and downright excitement.
Now the garage—what should it look like? A sports-car shop, of course. Neat,
clean, precise. With high-power equipment gleaming chrome and steel—hanging
on the walls, ready on the shelves, being installed on other sports models
in the background. The mechanic is not young, not old, simply mature. Rugged,

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knowledgeable, precise. He’s sure of what he’s doing—there isn’t a wasted
motion or a wasted tool anywhere about him. The owner of the car is young,
wiry, yirile, but he too has been around. (Put into words, these images
must take on a measure of disbelief, which we express by saying they’re
“corny.” However, expressed in visual terms, where they can be symbolized,
and therefore implied rather than named, they enter into our minds unnoticed,
and we accept them without question. Verbal terms—words and sentences—can
be used to imply images of identification; but these are different tvpes
of images, and must be conveyed in a different way. We will touch on this
verbal image building again, as related to excitement and mood, in Chapter 14.
The owner is not a professional driver, but he races the car for sport (we
know this bv the roll-over bar over the back of the seats). He loves this
car (its perfect shine, its gleaming chrome engine, its complete absence of
even a spot of dirt). He too is precise (the chronometer on his wrist). And
he carries his success with a complete casualness (the absence of anv
special driving outfit—just slacks and a sport shirt). And what about
the relationship between the two men? Knowledge complementing skill. The
expert in one field advising the expert in another. Comfort, understanding,
teamwork—leading to mutual achievement. And what are thev doing? Replacing
rings, of course. But not because the old rings have developed trouble
(nothing in this car would be left unchecked long enough to have developed
a flaw). But because this mechanic is installing these new rings in this car
as high-performance equipment, exactly as he would install a supercharger to
increase its horsepower. Everything about the picture—its camera angle,
its composition, its lighting, the angle of the men’s heads and arms as thev
examine the rings—develops the emotion of precision and the excitement
and drama of discovering new performance through greater and greater precision.

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It is a picture, a situation and a mood that invites participation. The
reader may not notice every emotional detail that you have developed; but
he will sense the excitement and pleasure that you have built up. He will
wish to share in this world. And he will buy the product that gives him
this world—that offers it as a bonus to all its functional and physical
satisfactions. On the Limits to the Images Your Prospects Will Identify
With I must insert a warning here. Although these identification images
are immensely powerful when used correctly, there arc also strict rules
and limits to their use. And, if they are used incorrectly, they can be
disastrous. Many campaigns have collapsed because they have asked their
market to identify themselves with an unbelievable image. For example,
the deodorant-soap campaign of several vears ago that used an elite, society
image to sell the mass market. The men and women who composed the market could
not make the jump between themselves and the characters pictured in the ad.
And they not only refused to believe the suggested identification. but the
disbelief spread to the performance claims themselves. and killed the sales.
The key to avoiding such mistakes, of course, is the structure of the word,
unbelievable. What makes an image—or a claim, or an idea—believable or
not believable? We shall discuss this question thoroughly in the next few
chapters. However, in relation to image-building, the answer lies in two
points: 1. What do people already believe about the personality of your
product? Do they believe, today, that it has the character traits that you
say it has? And—if they do—can they identify themselves, their lives,
their present position in society, or their next step up in society with
these traits? If the answer to both these questions is Yes, then you can

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use the image exactly as you’ve conceived it. If, however, either one
of the answers is No, then vou must move on to the second step: 2. What
other primary image do I have to use as a believability-bridge to connect
what my prospect already believes with what I want him to believe when he
finishes my ad? If he doesn’t believe that mv product has those desirable
character traits, then I have to start with what he already believes. I have
to use these images as a base, and build up to my desired overall image,
as we discussed before. And, in addition, if mv prospect believes that
my product does possess these target-traits, but doesn’t believe that they
relate to his life, as it exists in either the present or the future, then
again I have to use a bridge-image. I have to insert a firstseen image that
he can immediately identify with, and use that acceptable identification
as^a hook to hang my target-image on to. For example, in the Marlboro ad,
men who would never identify themselves immediately with a yachting costume
or an opera hat, accepted the image completely after it was introduced by
the acceptable virility concept of the male model smoking the cigarette.
If you demand that your prospect jump across a believabilitychasm, vour ad
will fail. If, however, you build a bridge of ideas or images across that
chasm—starting on his side—then he will let vou lead him almost anywhere.
On Saleable Identifications Springing From the Physical Product Itself We
mentioned in Chapter 2 that for the purposes of preparing an advertisement,
everv product can be considered to be two products. There is the functional
product—what the product does for the consumer. And there is the physical
product— what the consumer actually gets. In tapping mass desire, we put

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aside the physical product, and concentrated on functional performances. Now,
in searching for image-sources to build powerful identifications, we
re-examine the physical product itself lhe physical product can be broken
down into three sem lc rate areas: 1. Its appearance; 2. Its components
and structure; and 3. The technical background from which it emerged Each
one of these areas has image potential. In each one of them you may find
strong primary images that already exist Or m each one of them you may be
able to graft on related images that will greatly increase the sales of
your product For example, the appearance of’vour product. As you receive it,
that product’s appearance is probably determined by function. Lets say that
the product is mechanical, like a car In this case, its appearance will be
a combination of what it has to do (ro 1 on a highway, carry six people,
shelter them against wind and rain, etc.), and the cheapest practical way of
doing it. Out of this combination of performance and^ economy comes the raw
shell of your c a r – i t s basic functional appearance. It is at this point
that you start to build in the images. You do this in two ways. First, you
exploit the dramatic primary images that already exist in the extreme forms
of your product. For cars, for instance, you borrow from the glamour c a r s
the severe streamlining and stabilizing fin of the racing c a r – t h e hub
caps and wheel wells of the sports c a r – t h e exhaust ports and roof line
of the custom car. And you blend their feeling of excitement and power and
distinction into the family sedan But this is only the first step. Once you
have exploited the already-existing primary images in your product-if there
are any-you then begin to weave in other images that have absolutely nothing
to do with the necessary physical structure of your product. And you alter
the appearance of your product to accommodate and express these images. ’ ’

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For example, many products are chemical rather than mechanical. They are
liquids, powders, sprays, granulates, etc. Therefore their physical appearance,
to the manufacturer, is completely arbitrary. Outside of the need to hold
them together and shield them against wear, their physical package can take
any shape you wish. Here, of course, there are no primary images arising
from functional appearance at all. All the images that you wish to shape into
vour package must be borrowed. And where do you borrow them from? From the
background of your product. Or from its components. Or from the values of
society as a whole. For example, the product’s background. One of the most
brilliant packaging concepts in years was Johnson & Johnson’s Micrin. Here
was a mouth wash—a liquid—sold in drug stores and supermarkets—whose
effectiveness far exceeded any similar product ever sold before. How were thev
to convey that effectiveness to the consumer at a glance? They simply took
the physical shape of glass containers that are found only in doctors’ offices
and operating rooms, and transcribed that exact shape onto an over-the-counter
product. Use this shape to house an ice-blue liquid, that in itself suggests
medical cleanliness, and you have a product that says instantly, “This is
doctor’s-liquidNThis is medicine. This works.” Here the background of the
product is symbolized in the product’s container. So effectively that the
container itself becomes the finest image-illustration that the agency could
use in creating their ad. Where the background of your product contains
elements that inspire excitement, drama, quality or helievahilitij to your
prospect, then those elements should he expressed either in the product
itself, or in its package, or in its ad. The same hypothesis holds true for
the components that make up your product. If vour product has electronic
components, for example, it should have an electronic flavor to both its
appearance and its advertising. Shoiv the radar installations, guided mis-

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siles, jet aircraft that use the same parts. Life for the average man is dull,
completely lacking in adventure. Offer to let him participate in the frontier
explorations of our world, and vou have welded a tremendously potent appeal
onto your product’

9 THE THIRD TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: GRADUALEATION

How to Make Your Prospect Believe Your Claims Before You State Them As we
have learned before, for the purpose of persuasion, the human mind may be
divided into three dimensions—three great rivers of emotional force that
determine the reaction to your ad, and therefore its success or failure.
The first of these dimensions is Desire—want, yearning, motivation—with
specific goals and/or cures in mind—with the prospect begging to be
shown how to obtain them. It is the copy writer’s job to make sure the
path to these goals goes through the product—and to make sure that the
prospect can visualize every drop of satisfaction that their achievement
will give him. The second dimension is Identification—the need for
expression and recognition—unformulated, unspoken, at least partially
unconscious—searching for symbols, definitions and embodiments. It is the
copv writer’s job to crystallize these self-

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definitions and emboch’ them in his product—so that the product may be used,
not only as a source of physical satisfaction, but also as a symbolic extension
of the personality of the prospect for whom it is intended. Until now, this
book has been concerned with these first two dimensions. They have determined
the selection of our headline. and our illustration, and most of the content
of our ad. But—important as they are—desire and identification alone
are never enough. By themselves, they can never produce the full reaction
the copy writer must have if he is to achieve the maximum success with his
product. No matter how intense the desire. no matter how demanding the need
to identify, both these reactions must be fused with a third great emotional
force—Belief— before they can produce the final overwhelming determinant of
action—Absolute Conviction. It is this fusion of desire and belief—this
conviction—this certainty—this feeling in the prospect of being right in
his choice— of being assured of what he has been promised—that the cop,/
writer seeks as his ultimate goal. And it is to this third dimension of the
human mind—the Belief that produces this certainty—that we now turn.
What Exactly Is Belief? It is perhaps the most complex fusion of thought
and emotion in the human mind. It is, first of all, your prospects mental
picture of the world he lives in—what facts make it up, how it works, in
what direction its truths and values lie. But these accepted facts, truths,
values and opinions are only the raw material of belief. Even more important
is the vast amount of emotional security he derives from these beliefs. It is
the wonderful feeling of comfort and reassurance of living in a world that
has meaning, where there are answers to be had. where somehow the facts
all fit. A world that he can understand and depend on, that he can predict,
that will stav together and

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not blow up in his face tomorrow morning or the morning after that. Do not
be misled for even a moment. The need to believe— and the need for secure
beliefs—is just as powerful an emotional force as the strongest desire for
physical satisfaction, or the most urgent search for expression. Most adults
have done their basic learning of these beliefs when they were children. At
that time, and in that dependent stage of their lives, they laid down the
primary channels of belief that their minds would follow for the rest of
their days. They were forced to do this, in order to understand the world,
to gain its approval, to trust and master it, and to develop themselves
into self-sustaining adults. To ask them to shatter even one of these
alreadv-established lines of belief—to plunge into uncertainty again—to
be forced to reassemble their beliefs in new, untested ways—is to ask them
to become children again. And—unless they are “frightened beyond belief,”
unless their entire conceptual world has crumbled around them—thev simply
will not do it. The basic rule of belief, then, can simply be stated as
this: If vou violate vour prospect’s established beliefs in the slightest
degree—either in content or direction—then nothing you promise him, no
matter how appealing, can save your ad. But, on the other hand, and even more
important: If you can channel the tremendous force of his belief—either in
content or direction—behind only one claim, no matter how small, then that
one fully-believed claim will sell more goods than all the half-questioned
promises vour competitors can write for all the rest of their days. This
channeling of belief is so powerful that, if properlv directed, it will even
support othenvise-absurd claims. It is simply a question of whether you are
going to paddle upstream or down. Whether vou are going to work against the
tide of established belief, or with it. As far as advertising is concerned,
then, belief is immutable.

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It cannot be changed. It must be complied with at everv step. Every one of
the statements you make in vour ad must fit in with your prospects version
of “the facts” at that precise moment. It is not the function of your ad to
change those facts. But it is its function—and one of its great sources
of strength— to extend them. To build a bridge of belief between those
facts as they exist in your prospect’s mind today—and the ultimate facts
your prospect must believe if he is to accept your claims. This process of
starting with the facts that vour prospect is already willing to accept, and
leading him logically and comfortably through a gradual succession of more and
more remote facts—each of which he has been prepared in turn to accept—
is called Gradualization. It is the third Process of Persuasion. Mind you,
this process of Gradualization has nothing to do with the offering of proof,
or reason-why explanations, or testimonials or documentation. Each of these
mechanisms of belief adds to the power of your ad, and we will explore each of
them in turn in the chapters that follow. In Chapter 11, we will discuss the
verbal demonstration that your product does what you claim—Mechanization.
In Chapter 12, we will discuss the destruction of alternate ways of satisfying
that same desire—Concentration. In Chapter 14, we will discuss the offering
of authorities and proof, the reassurance that your prospect has made a wise
c h o i c e Verification. All these devices build belief. But by far the
most fundamental of all—though the most inconspicuous—is Gradualization.
For Gradualization determines—not the content of your ad—but its structure,
its architecture, the way i/ou build it.’ We have already seen that it is
the’dominating desire of your prospect that determines the content of vour
ad. It is his longings for identification and self-expression that, in most
cases, determine your illustrations. But it is the facts that he believes in
and accepts, and the way that he passes that acceptance along from one fact to

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another, that determines that ad’s development—the arrangement of your
claims and your images and vour proofs, so that there is a step-bv-step
strengthening—not only of your prospect’s desire— but of his conviction
that the satisfaction of that desire will come true through your product.
The Architecture of Belief In essence, then, the theory of Gradualization
is based upon this fact: That every claim, everv image, every proof in your
ad has two separate sources of strength— 1. The content of that statement
itself; and 2. The preparation vou have made for that statement—either by
recognizing that preparation as already existing in your prospect’s mind,
or bv deliberately laving the groundwork for that statement in the preceding
portion of the ad itself. And, because of this fact, we can strengthen the
power of each of these statements in two separate ways— 1. Bv increasing
the intensity of its content—by making greater promises, bv portraying
more dramatic images, by offering more compelling proof; and/or 2. Bv
changing the place or position or sequence in which that statement occurs
in the ad—by strengthening the groundwork for belief in that statement
by the material which precedes it—and therefore increasing the intensity
of belief given to it— the immediate acceptance of its content, without
question, when the prospect encounters it in vour ad. Make no mistake,
it is this acceptance that we are looking for. Effective advertising, like
effective literature, is built—not of words—but of reactions. We put down
on paper an architecture of words. If these words are effective, they evoke,
in turn, an architecture of reactions in our prospect’s mind. We are creating
a stream of acceptances, with a definite sequence and content and direction,
and, if we are successful, with a definite goal—the

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absolute conviction in your prospects mind that he must have your product.
This is the essence of building your ad. We now turn to the techniques of its
accomplishment. A New Definition of Awareness We now know that Gradualization
is the art of starting your ad with a statement that will be immediately and
entirely accepted, and then building a chain of subsequent acceptances upon
this first statement. The purpose of this chain of acceptances is to lead your
reader to a goal conclusion, which he will then accept, but which he would not
as readily or as thoroughly have accepted without the preliminary statements.
This quest for acceptance begins, of course, with vour headline. This
all-important first statement that you make—this meeting place between your
story and your prospect—must not only be capable of awakening interest
and desire, but of being accepted at the very first glance as being true.
Interest and believability—these are the two requirements that determine
your headline. We have already discussed these requirements in Chapter 2,
on the State of Awareness of our market. We can now redefine this State of
Awareness as readiness to accept. And we can now say—especially in the
Fifth Stage of Awareness—that the effectiveness of your headline is as
much determined by the willingness of your audience to believe what it says,
as it is by the promises it makes. This is the reason that you cannot always
use the most powerful claim in your headline. Or even the very problem that
your product solves. Because without supporting evidence already existing
in the mind of your prospect to prepare him for that headline claim, he
just won’t believe it. Either he’ll believe that it’s exaggerated or false,
or he just won’t believe it applies to him.

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In either case, too many of your prospects turn away without reading on, and
your ad fails. This fact—that your most powerful claim does not always
make vour most powerful headline—is a paradox that many copy writers
still cannot accept. Mail order advertisers, however, have a simple wav of
proving it. When a power-claim headline doesn’t work—for reasons either of
Awareness or Sophistication—they immediatelv split it against a second head,
with far fewer claims in it, but far more likely to be believed. Then they
build a beliefbridge from this second headline, to the same exact claims they
had featured in the first, but now anticipated by careful preparation every
step along the way. A Detailed Example Let us take such an ad—that we
have already glanced at in Chapter 2—and break down its structure step by
step. What we are looking for here is not content, nor promises, nor claims;
but the way these promises and claims arc arranged in the ad, to help each one
of them gain full acceptance when it is encountered in turn by the prospect.
This ad was written in 1951. Its purpose was to sell a Television Repair
Manual. Theoretically, every TV owner who was having anv trouble with his
set (and almost all of them were at that time) was a prospect. But, before
the prospect could be turned into a customer, he had to believe two things:
1. That he could save money by making his own TV repairs; and 2. That he
was capable of making them. Both these statements were matters of fact. The
average TV owner certainlv could save money if he had made his own repairs;
and about 80% of those repairs were simple enough for him to make himself.
But the overwhelming majority of prospects simply didn’t

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realize these facts. Most of them thought of themselves as nonhandymen,
even in relation to far simpler devices than a television set. And, in 1951,
the TV set was considered a complicated mechanical monster, far beyond their
poor powers to understand let alone correct. These two factors blocked the
use of the obvious powerclaim headline for this product. Such a headline was
written and tested—"Save up to $100 a Year on Your TV Repairs!"—but it
failed to make a profit. The obvious was unsuccessful. Power alone could
not move the product. Two tasks faced the copy writer in revising this
ad. First, he had to reach all his prospects in this market, and not just
those among them who considered themselves handymen. And second, he had to
convince all these non-handymen prospects that their sets weren’t really
such fragile, complicated monsters after all, and that they themselves could
easily correct most troubles that arose. Once these two statements were
believed by the prospect and only then—could the previous headline claim of
“Save up to $100 a year on your TV repairs” be brought in at full power. Let
us see, acceptance by acceptance, how this new ad built to that point: The
headline, first of all, would have to be a general statement, crystallizing
and exploiting the universal resentment against the high TV repair bills,
the $60-a-vear TV service contracts that were then in existence, and the
outright thievery that occurred in only a small fraction of the TV repair
shops, but that had stigmatized the entire industry. From there—from this
universallyaccepted resentment—the ad could then build toward the two goal
conclusions listed above. Let us see how this was done, statement by statement.
Here is the new headline: “WHY HAVEN’T TV OWNERS BEEN TOLD THESE FACTS?”

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No claim. No promise—except that of disclosure. But here is an implication of
foul plav, which echoed the existing suspicion in the TV owner himself. Here is
a crystallization and outright expression that the average owner felt toward
being taken. Facts have been withheld. This is something he can agree with!
Thus, having achieved its first acceptance by its suspicionheadline, the ad
reinforces that effect by an inclusion-question. It asks a questions which,
in form, seems to limit the market; but which, in content, actually assures the
correct answer by the overwhelming majority of it: “Was i/our set purchased
after the spring of 1947?” 95% of television owners would answer Yes. Thus
the ad has built two acceptances in its first two sentences. It has started
a Habit of Agreement in its reader. It now exploits that agreement by making
its first definite promise in the third sentence: “Then here is the full,
uncensored stonj of how yon can avoid those $15-$20 repair bills—avoid
those $30-$60 a year service fees—and still get the perfect, movie-clear
pictures you’ve dreamed about!”

H o w Belief Was Built Into the Opening This is the ad’s first claim. Its
content alone is extremelv powerful. But that powerful content—which
otherwise might drive many readers awav as being just too fantastic to
be believed— has been given extra belief—has been loaned, as it were,
extra belief—not only by the first two sentences that preceded it—but by
these deliberate constructions in the statement itself: 1. By the grammatical
construction, “Was your. . .” in the second sentence, and “Then . . .” in
the third which by its very form generates belief. It does this by implying
exclusion. It says that the promise will come true only in certain cases;
that it will only work for television sets purchased after 1947; that the
ad cannot make this promise for sets purchased earlier. Thus it adds

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credence to whatever statement follows it. Yon can feel this added
believability yourself by taking out the lead-word “Then” from the sentence
and reading it again. Immediately, it loses half its force—force added to
the content of the statement by the grammatical-bridge tying it in to the
first two acceptances. 2. The second attempt at adding believabilitv is bv
the descriptive nature of the promise. It is not onlv a promise of reward
(the money saved), but a catalog of almost-universal symptoms (repair bills
and service fees). Since the overwhelming majority of set owners are suffering
from these problems, their descriptions evoke two more “Yes—I have them”
reactions from the reader, and carry these reactions over to the save-monev
claims that immediately follow them. If these descriptions were eliminated,
the money-saving claims would be much weaker: “Then here is the full,
uncensored story of liow you can save $15-$20—save $30-$60—save $90-$
100 on your’ TY set—and still get the perfect, movie-clear pictures you’ve
dreamed about!” 3. And finally, even though the causes of the set owner’s
problems are specifically described, the cures for them are deliberately
left ambiguous. The fact that thev will save otherwise wasted money, that
they will get improved reception, is included— how they will do this
is not. The mechanism bv which these goals will be accomplished is left
out. It is left out because the reader has not yet been prepared for it. If
he were to learn, at this moment in the ad, that he had to make repairs on
his set to save this money, the average reader would turn the page. So he is
given specific symptoms, that he will agree he has, and specific savings by
eliminating them, that are certainly logical to expect. He may or may not
accept all these three claims in the sentence completely; but the strength
of their promise, the two or three or four acceptances that he has already
given, and the implied disclosures still remaining in the body of the ad,
should be enough to carry him on, to this next paragraph: "How many times
this week have you had to get up to fix

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a jumpy TV picture? . . . How many times have you had to put up with
ghosts? . . . How many times. . . ." Here again is reinforcement of
belief—the description of universal symptoms—the coaxing out of a
stream of agreements. “Yes . . . Yes . . . Yes”—he must answer if he
has had trouble with his set. A habit of acceptance is being built inside
him. Trust is being formed, layer by laver—as each question poses a test,
and each ves answer proves to the reader that the ad is talking about him.
Already the ad is beginning to weave its pattern of promise and belief and
then promise again. Now, with as many as seven or eight agreements behind
it to establish a firm foundation of belief, the ad moves on to its next
great promise: “90% Of These Breakdowns Are Unnecessary!” “All of these
breakdowns may have seemed tragic to you at the moment they happened—but
here is the real tragedy! Do you know that the same exact set that you now
have in your front room . . . has been playing in manufacturer’s test rooms
for months—and playing perfectly!” Goal Conclusions The ad is now laving
the1 basis for the first of its two goal conclusions—that TV sets are
not fragile—that they have amazing endurance if they are properlv cared
for. Only when the reader accepts this fact, can the ad go on to its second
conclusion—that whatever minor breakdowns do occur can be easily handled bv
the owner himself. But the ad is still five paragraphs awav from any mention
of the owner touching his set. First it must establish the dependability of
the set; and it does this bv two methods. At the start, in the following two
paragraphs, it gives graphic descriptions of the manufacturer’s own tests
used to establish this dependability: "These sets have been subjected to
‘Breakdown Tests’ that would seem incredible to the average owner. They have

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been tamed on for 24 hours a day—7 days a week 4 iceeks a month. Some
of these sets have been naming without a moment’s pause for as much as 17
months. "These sets have been tested against almost every conceivable type
of viewing hazard. . . up to 120 miles away from the station . . . against the
interference of an entire warehouse of electrical appliances . . . in special,
steel-ribbed buildings, which ordinarily would produce several distinct ghosts.
“And in almost every one of these cases, these sets have produced perfect,
movie-clear pictures—without major breakdowns—for as much as one full
year! Here are some of the reasons why:” Then, when the reader has fully
visualized the impact of these test reports, the ad now turns to expert
authority and logical construction to reinforce this belief. Notice in
the next fewparagraphs how the ad picks up the already-accepted condition.
“If your set were properly cared for, as these sets were . . .”, and uses that
now-established condition to prove the series of statements that follow it:
“What TV Experts Have Learned About Your Set!” “If your set were properly
cared for—as these sets were cared for in these tests—it need break down
only once during the entire year! In other words, you may actually have to
call in a repairman only once during the entire year You can save the $30-$60
’service fees you are nowpaying—and you can save most of the SI OS 15
repair bills.” “If your set was properly cared for. if can actually give you
perfect, movie-clear reception the other 364 days a year. It can give you this
perfect reception without special ’electronic equipment—without the help of a
repairman—up to 100 miles away from your station.” Notice that in these two
paragraphs, the ad returns to the claims made in the third sentence—repeats
them almost word for word—and then gives logical proof, in logical form,
for each of them. As we have pointed out before, these claims—"you can
avoid those $15-420 repair bills—avoid those $30-$60 a year service

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fees—and still get the perfect, movie-clear picture ijou’ve dreamed
about!“—were stated in the third sentence without supporting proof at that
time; but with strong implication—”Here is the full, uncensored. story
. . .“—that such proof would follow. That proof is now submitted, in an
extremely formal and logical structure. Thus the ad again weaves proof into
promise—repeating previous claims in a new context of full documentation,
where it could only suggest that they would be proven before. Notice also
that this logical proof—”If your set were cared for. . . it need break down
only once a year. . . you need call a repairman only once a year. . . you save
the service fees and most repair bills.“—is, in itself, solidly grounded
in the test-proof presented in the paragraphs before it—”being subjected
to Breakdown tests . . . against almost every type of viewing hazard . . .
and produced perfect pictures, without breakdowns, for as much as one full
year" Thus a chain of proof upon proof is constructed— each new statement
repeating the heart of the proof before it. Thus the ad has now proved—bv
using the Mechanism of Intensification—by repeating the same theme-content
seven different times in seven different wavs—that vour TV set is dependable.

The Ultimate Objective This was the first goal-conclusion. At this point the
reader is convinced that it is true. The ad is now ready to go on to prove
the second goal conclusion: that the owner can correct minor breakdowns
himself. It begins this proof in the verv next paragraph, in this way:
“And, most important, these experts have discovered that you do not have to
he a handyman or a mechanic in order to coax this performance out of your
set! Here’s why” Notice that it is in this paragraph that the entirely-new
(to the reader) assumption—that vou can fix your own minor breakdowns—is
first introduced. Yet its novelty is deliberately con-

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cealed; it is presented as though it were simply another rephrasing of the
bv-now already accepted dependability conclusion. There is therefore no
break in the logical flow of proof. Acceptance is built into this entirely
new statement in these four different ways: 1. By paragraph parallelism. By
framing the statement as the last of a series of similar paragraphs—all the
others of which have already been accepted—instead of physically setting it
off as a new point with its own sub head and a different construction, as the
reader would ordinarily expect. 2. By the lead word, “And,” a tie-in phrase,
which indicates that the sentence accompanying it is the same as those that
have gone before. 3. By immediately following “And” by a second tie-in phrase,
“most important,” which again implies that the remainder of the statement is
part of the series that has gone before. 4. And finally, by repeating the
phrase, “these experts have discovered,” which echoes the identifying subhead
at the beginning of the series, and carries on the acceptance-momentum of
the series as a whole. All these deliberate constructions combine to give
this short, but vital, transitional paragraph the acceptance, and therefore
the believability, of all the careful planning that has gone before it.
They allow the reader to make what otherwise might be a jarring transition from
already-established proof to an entirely new promise with a minimum of effort.
Now the ad builds its final step—showing that the only repairs that the
average owner will have to make are actually minor external adjustments on
his set. Notice how it integrates this newextension of its previous thought
into what has gone before bv starting with the phrase, once again, "These
experts have discovered . . . " Here are the next three paragraphs: “Five
Minutes a Week for Perfect Reception.” "These T\r experts have discovered
that ipur 7T set is a great deal like your body in this respect—that it gives

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you learning signals before it has a major breakdown. For instance, after
your set was installed, it probably played perfectly for the first week. But
then it began to suffer from the vibration, the jarring, the interference of
other electrical appliances in your home. The picture might suddenly begin to
flop over or flicker—lines may appear on your screen. "Now—and this is
important—if you had the knowledge to quickly make a few minor adjustments,
on the outside controls of your set, then you could correct those symptoms, you
could keep that set playing peifectly, and you could prevent major breakdowns
in exactly the same way they were prevented in these manufacturers’ tests.
“If you do not have this knowledge . . . if you do not make these adjustments,
then your set trill weaken, you will get a consistently bad picture, and
you will have to call a repairman.” The second goal-conclusion of the ad
has now been reached. At this stage of the copy, the reader now knows:
f. That his set is dependable enough to ayoid major breakdowns during by far
the greatest majority of the time he will playit; and 2. That if he obtains
the proper knowledge, he can correct minor breakdowns himself, and help
prevent the gradual formation of major breakdowns, by making a few simple
adjustments to the outside controls of his set. Therefore, the stage has now-
been set for the final conclusion—the pay-off conclusion—a conclusion
with all the inevitable logical force of a syllogism—that: 3. The owner
should obtain this knowledge—make these minor adjustments himself—and
therefore save the money he is paying today for sen-ice contracts, and save
by far the greatest majority of the money he is paying for repair bills.
Here is how this final conclusion is phrased by the copy: “It’s as simple
as that. You pay a repairman—not for his work—but for his knowledge. If
you had that knowledge yourself—then you would not have to pay him at all.”

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A Restatement of Our Basic Theory We have taken a great deal of space to
analyze, in exact detail, one ad, and the structure of believabilitv that
underlies the effectiveness of its claims. We have done this for two reasons:
1. To show how the goal-conclusion—the introduction of the product claim
itself—may be made far more effective if it is delayed till the prospect has
been prepared to accept it. And 2. To show how this full acceptance—this
willingness to believe without question-can gradually be built up, layer
by laver agreement by agreement, by use of the proper structure.’ ’ Let us
now state formally some of the rules we have dis covered in this analysis,
and some of the devices vou can use time after time, to create the maximum
structural believabiliti, tor each of your advertisements. Here are the basic
principles: Gradualization is the art of stating a claim in such a wav that
it will receive the greatest possible acceptance and/or believabilitv from
your prospect. Belief ultimately depends upon structure. Just as desire
depends upon promise, so belief in that promise depends upon the amount
of preparation that promise has been given before vour reader is asked
to accept it. One fully-believed promise has ten times the sales power
often partially-believed promises. Most copy writers try to strengthen ads
by piling promise upon promise. What thev usually get for their troubles
is greater sales resistance from their prospects and trouble from the
E T C . They could far better invest the same time in strengthening the
believabilitu-structure of the original justifiable promise. Now, how do
you strengthen this believability-structure* What are the devices you can
choose from to add believabilitv to any promise, in any ad?

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Here are at least a few of them. Once vou get the feel of using them,
you’ll probably develop a whole armorv of vour own. 1. The Inclusion
Question Designed to permit immediate identification with vour storv.
To show the prospect that you’re talking about him—not about someone else
who would answer No to the question. Therefore, once he’s identified with
the questions—once he’s made his first agreements with you and placed
himself in the Yes-answer group— then your recommendations will have
special meaning for him. This is perhaps the most direct wav of building
agreement at the beginning of the ad. It’s used everv day. For example,
in this advertisement—highly successful—for a book called The Art of
Selfishness: ASK YOURSELF THESE NINE QUESTIONS 1. Do you find it increasinglv
difficult to cope with the world around you. . . . 2. Is your business or
career a source of annoyance and frustration. . . . 3. Are you tormented
by inadequacies, fear and embarrassments in your sex life. . . . And so on.

2. Detailed Identification Another device used at the beginning of the ad, to
establish immediate, and deep, agreement between the reader and the copy. Here,
instead of asking questions to set up your Yes-train, you detail symptoms or
problems that are your prospect’s reasons for desiring your product. Thus,
again, your reader knows that vou are talking about him—that vou “have
been there vourself”— and therefore that your recommendations will help
answer these problems, his problems, that you have catalogued so well.

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For example, in this ad for a course to improve the prospect’s child’s grades
in school: Let me explain. I don’t care whether your child is six years old
or twenty—boy or girl—in grade school high school or college. It makes
no difference how badly that child is doing in school today—how difficult
it is for him to concentrate . . . how poor his memory mav be . . . howmuch
a prisoner he is of crippling mental habits . . . how terrified he mav be
of mathematics, or grammar, or social studi es, or even the hardest science
course. Of course, here—as in the Inclusion-Question—vour copv must be
accurate. You must know enough about the reader’s problems to make every word
you write ring true. If vou don’t, you’ll shatter your believability-net,
and he’ll simply’ turn the

page. So—before you write—research. Learn to know vour customer. This
is alwavs the essential first step, in anv kind of copv

3. Contradiction of Present (False) Beliefs Again, used at the beginning of
the ad. And again used to prepare a foundation for strong claim-statements
that the reader might never accept raw. Here, you come bluntly out and say,
“I know you think this is true; but I’m going to show YOU it’s false.”
Best used, of course, in conjunction with strong authority strong enough to
contradict present (unpleasant) beliefs, and get away with it. For example,
in an ad for cosmetics invented by a famous plastic surgeon: From this moment
on, forget everything you have ever heard or read about what age “must do”
to your appearance. Forget anything you have ever believed about how “old”
you must look at thirty . . . forty . . . fifty . . . or even sixty. . . .

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Here vou are not looking for agreement as much as you are for a loosening
of previous beliefs. You are saying that the old limitations are passing,
and your next paragraph should be your first introduction of your positive
claims, in somewhat the same way that this ad goes on: Because—starting
with this moment—you are about to enter into a new world of beautv! A
world where ordinary fruits are transformed into anti-wrinkle cosmetics.
Where a. . . . And so on.

4. The Language of Logic So far, the devices we have discussed have been
used to build belief at the beginning of vour ad—to serve in the crucial
transition from vour headline to the stream of intensified promises that
vou are going to use to close the sale. We have discussed the process
of intensifying desire in Chapter 7. We now turn to the simultaneous,
and equally important, task of maintaining belief in each new statement
as you present it. Here again, your objective is to build belief at the
same exact time that vou build desire. To do this, you interlace each new
promise tcith language-signals that show that it logically follows from
everything that has been proved before. And that it therefore can be believed
without hesitation. What are these language-signals? They are, of course,
the vocabulary of logic. They are the words we use when we reason: when we
argue; when we prove our point in anv discussion, and force others to agree
with us that we are right. They are among the most powerful words in the
English language—for the verv simple reason that they give the flavor of
conviction to the promises into which we weave them. These words have been
used for centuries in court, in politics,

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in science—even in detective stories—to that reason has been evitably
follows from

that most-loved form of American fiction, show others that proof has been
offered. used, that one statement logically and inanother.

Therefore, after centuries of conditioning, the words themselves—regardless
of the content of the statements to which thev are attached—now carry
conviction. Therefore, thev should be woven throughout your ad, wherever
thev logically apply. For example, let’s look at some individual lines,
in a number of different ads. Let’s see how each of these words (which
I’ll italicize) gives a tone of reason and logic to those sentences in
which they’re incorporated. For example, in the famous Sherwin Codv ad:
Why do so many find themselves at a loss for words to express their meaning
adequately 0 The reason for this deficiency is clear. . . . Most persons do
not write or speak good English simply because thev have never formed the
habit of doing so. . . . Or, in this ad for a book on how to manage difficult
people: Take, as an example, the man who hahitualhj refuses to follow your
instructions. There is a basic, underlying reason for this. Mr. Given shows
you how to find that reason and then explains the means of correcting it. The
whole solution can be surprisingly easy once you hate realized the underlying
causes. . . . Or, for a book on learning how to learn: . . . but simply
by putting your LOCKED-UP LEARNING POWERS to work—today—as easily and
logically as this. . . . ’ " ’ And so on. There are dozens of such phrases
for vou to use. Among them are: “This has been proved In/ thousands. . . .”
“Sound impossible? Not at all. It’s actually simple. . . .”

as

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“Here’s whtj. . . .” “And, most important of all. is the fact that. . . .”
“Therefore . . .” “This was, without a doubt, the most thorough. . . .”
“Thev discovered—in case after case—that. . . .” This, again, is the
language of logic. It is a language equally as filled with emotion as the
language of desire. Interwoven into your promises, so subtly that the reader
never even notices that it is there, it gives vour claims the invaluable
air of conviction.

5. Svllogistic Thinking Now we go from the language of logic to the mechanisms
of logic. This is the role that reason plays in your ad. This is the moment
when you prove that your product works, through the mechanism of logical
reasoning. For example, in one of the most successful automotive accessory
ads of all time, the copywriter wanted to prove that his spark plug was
superior to the ordinary plug—even though it costs twice as much. Since
the point of difference was simply that his plug delivered a larger spark,
the copywriter built up his case in this way: Your car runs because gasoline
is fed into the cylinders where a spark causes it to fire. This action
causes the gas to explode . . . this explosion pushes down the piston.
Now here is the important thing to you. The larger the spark is, the more
powerful the explosion. The more powerful the explosion, the more power you
get from your gasoline. Poor explosion means wasted gas—loss of power,
poor getaway, bad starting, a sluggish car. Good explosion means more miles
per gallon—more horsepower; a more exciting car to drive! Notice the
power of these three simple paragraphs. Power derived as much from their
underlying formal structure as from

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their claims. One statement inevitably leads into another. Evenword is
logical. There is a constant process of equation: spark to power, power to
performance. Size equals power—and his plug delivers the largest size.
Such structure—and the copv based on such a structure— develops the
feeling of inevitability. The reader feels that the product must work. He
has not onlv been told it works; he has been shown proof that it works.
Such structure—though hidden behind the words it clothes itself in—is
actually a physical entity. You can seek it out of hundreds of ads, if you
look beneath the words themselves. You can trace it, codify it, and then repeat
it. Once learned, it becomes a powerful tool in selling hundreds of products.
We will explore these structures in more depth in the next two chapters—on
Redefinition and Mechanization. 6. Other Belief Forms Once you grasp the
fundamental idea that form—structure— determines believabilitv, then
all sorts of opportunities open up to you. You realize that simply by the
arrangement of i/our claims, you can add to their believabilitv. For example:
Contingency Structures—such as “If. . . then . . .”, or “Wis your…then….”
Repetition of Proof: Echoing—such as "These experts found. . . . These
experts found. . . . These experts found. . . . " Promise—Belief—Promise
Variation. Where every sentence of promise is followed (ideally) with another
of proof, or verification, or documentation. So that the reader never has
the breathing space to question. Paragraph Parallelism. Where the same
word structure used in an accepted statement is then picked up exactly,
and used to borrow acceptance for a fresh claim.

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There are manv more, of course. Some are words, some are chains of reasoning,
some are merelv the physical arrangement of the copy on the page. All have
the same objective. To gain continued acceptance. To prevent rejection. To
build conviction. Belief is the goal. Now let us look at some other methods
of reinforcing it.

10 THE FOURTH TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: REDEFINITION

How to Remove Objections to Your Product Time and time again, you are going
to have to sell a product that has built-in handicaps. That— along with its
promises and its functions—also has certain aspects to it that actually
repel the prospect. No product, of course, is perfect. If only for the
reason that he must pav money for what you have to sell, your prospect
starts with a basic minimum of resistance against buying your product.
But this resistance is intensified by certain drawbacks in some products,
often to the point where—unless you take definite action in your ad to
redefine them—these drawbacks will actually kill your sale. Let us now
look at the three general categories of drawback, and then at the three
types of redefinition that eliminates them. First, of course, there is the
product that is (or that sounds) too complicated—too hard to use. 153

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Second, there is the product that is not important enough— whose basic
appeal doesn’t have a statistically broad enough market. And third,
there is the product that just costs too much. Its price is so much above
the price of other products in its class that people simply turn away when
it’s mentioned. It’s amazing how many products fall into one or all of these
categories. Fortunately, the same mechanism—redefinition—helps you deal
with all three. Redefinition is the process of giving a new definition
to your product. It says that the product is this rather than that. Its
objective is to remove a roadblock to your sale—if possible, before the
prospect even knows it exists. Perhaps the classic case of redefinition
is that of Lifebuov soap in the Thirties. Lifebuoy was a good soap that
did a good cleaning job. But it had one overwhelming drawback—a horrible
medicinal odor. Since the odor couldn’t be removed without removing the
cletamng power, the problem became one of redefinition. Put simply: how do
we change this odor from a liability into an asset? The answer, of course,
was the famous B.O. campaign. The prospect’s attention was focussed on the
odor of his own bodv— an odor which he was told would drive away people
(and which does). He was then told this odor must be eradicated—not with
an ordinary soap, which was not powerful enough to do the job but with a
soap with the odor-destroying power to make a longshoreman acceptable at a
society ball. Lifebuov was this superpowerful soap. And the overwhelming
proof—that von could smell the moment you opened the wrapper—was the
strong medicinal odor built into every cake. This is the simplest, and
often the most effective kind of redefinition. A simple concept-judo. A
complete reversal. Turning a liability into an asset, with a single idea.
Wherever you can use this flip-flop method, do so. But most

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lOO

problems of redefinition are more complicated, and demand more complicated
means of dealing with them—using many of the devices we have just examined
in the process of Gradualization. Let us now turn to these devices, and
see how they can present an entirelv different image of the product to the
prospect than vou would have imaginetl, had you not thought them through
beforehand. 1. Simplification Our first category is the overcomplicated
product—the product that sounds too hard. To see how to replace this image
with a more favorable one, let’s look again at the Television Repair Book
ad that we discussed in the last chapter. As vou remember, the original ad
for this product failed because it promised “Do your own TV repairs” in its
headline. This was considered too difficult by the average set owner (even
though the ad said “It’s easy, its simple, it’s quick” in the next paragraph).
Therefore—since the ad confronted the prospect with the fact that he
would have to make repairs before it made those repairs easy and simple and
quick—he simply- turned the page and tuned the ad out. The second ad did
not discuss repairs. It discussed breakdowns and expenses. And, as we have
seen, it spent its first several paragraphs showing that these breakdowns and
expenses did not have to occur at all, if the sets were given the proper care.
Up to this point, the ad has talked about the prospect’s world—and compared
it with a far more promising world where expert care produces trouble-free TV
viewing. Now the two worlds must be joined through the product. This joining
is called by the pitchman, “the turn.” It is a transition of great delicacy. It
must be accomplished without a jar. In this ad, it begins in this paragraph:
And most important, these experts have discovered that vou do not have to
be a handyman or a mechanic in

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order to coax this performance out of vour set! Here’s why. . . . We have
already seen how the repetition ( . . . these experts have discovered . . . )
and the paragraph parallelism tie this statement into the stream of belief
that has been built up before it. Now, however, we are going to look at this
same paragraph from another point of view—to see how it provides the first
step in eliminating any fear of making your own repairs. Notice, of course,
that the very fear of the average owner. that he is not a repairman, is here
brought out in the o p e n specifically stated—but now framed as a promise.
Notice too that there is no mention of the word, “repair,” at this point. It
is still too early at this point. Though the average owner might be willing
to accept the idea that he could “coax” better performance out of his set,
it would still be too much to ask him to believe that he could make repairs
on that set at this point. This leads to the final step. The ad must now
redefine what the reader thinks of when he hears the word “repairs.” It
must now lay a new foundation of feet—showing that almost all the repairs
the owner will have to make are actually only minor external adjustments.
It now proceeds to do this, in the following three paragraphs which we have
already studied in the last chapter, and which we will now look at again
to see the second process of p e r s u a s i o n redefinition—which is
also occurring in them. Here are the paragraphs again: Five Minutes a Week
for Perfect Reception. These TV experts have discovered that vour TV set
is a great deal like vour body in this respect—that it gives you warning
signals before it has a major breakdown.’ For’instance, after your set was
installed, ’it probably plaved perfectly for the first week. But then it
began to suffer from the vibration, the jarring, the interference of other
electrical appliances in your home. The picture might suddenly begin to flop
over or flicker—lines may appear on vour screen.

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Now—and this is important—if you had the knowledge to quickly make a
few minor adjustments, on the outside controls of vour set. then vou could
correct those symptoms. you could keep that set playing perfectly, and you
could prevent major breakdowns in exactly die same way thev were prevented
in these manufacturers’ tests. If you do not have this knowledge . . . if
you do not make these adjustments, then your set will weaken, you will get
a consistently bad picture, and you will have to call a repairman. Now,
what occurs in these four paragraphs is actually a redefinition of the term,
“repairs” in the reader’s mind. This is done in three separate, but integrated,
wax’s: 1. By immediately comparing the television set to the human body,
and therefore minor maladjustments in the set to warning signals given off
bv the body before it becomes seriously ill. By “making this comparison,
the copy relates the intricate, technical working of a television set to
something as commonplace and familiar as the running nose that warns you
of an approaching cold. Because of this comparison, some of the mystery of
the set is explained away; and the owner gains a new feeling of confidence
in dealing with it himself, as something he understands. And, at the
same time, this comparison distinguishes between the relatively rare major
breakdowns, and the far more frequent minor maladjustments, which he can now
treat himself as easily as he’d take a cold tablet to stop his running nose.
2. ’By continuously describing these minor maladjustments as ’warning signals”
and “symptoms” rather than “breakdowns” or “repairs.” This makes them sound
easily corrected—-before real trouble, which might require technical skill
and complicated tools, can develop out of them. 3. And finally, by stating
outright that these minor adjustments can be corrected by “making a few minor
adjustments, on the outside controls of your set.” Therefore, “repairs”
are redefined as “adjustments.” Troubles on the TV screen are redefined as
’warning signals" or "symp-

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toms." And “repair calls” or “breakdowns” are carefully segregated into the
least-likely-to-occur 5% of all possible TV troubles. Therefore, with this
redefinition in mind—with this reorganization of facts accomplished by the
copy—there is no longer any reason for the average set owner not to make
his oivn minor adjustments, rather than pay a repairman to make them for him.
The objective has been accomplished. The ad can now go on to specifically
state how much monev the owner will save by making these adjustments—and
where he can buv the book that tells him how. In exactly the same way,
whenever there is a process which is difficult. . . whenever there is a
product which is hard to use, or difficult to apply—the copywriters first
task is to simplify that application in his prospect’s mind. This holds
especially true for new inventions which actually simplify processes which
formerly were too difficult for the average prospect. A new breakthrough is
not merely accepted because its manufacturer says so. Its claims for ease
and simplicity must be proved, in the ad, or the reader will simply shrug
his shoulders and say “it’s just another copywriter gone wild.” Such a
situation is one of the most frustrating experiences you can have. Here is
a product which vou know is far easier to use than anything ever introduced
in this field before—because you’ve used it! But no matter how loud you
scream EASY in your ads, people just seem to ignore vou. What do you do? The
answer is twofold: 1. Redefine (as this chapter shows vou). 2. Mechanize the
new simplicity (as you’ll see in the next chapter). Remember, innovation
without acceptance is valueless. The more people know that something is
difficult, and the more revolutionary (and therefore different) your product
is—the more resistance you will meet from them in accepting it. You must,
therefore, lay a base for acceptance by redefining the entire field for them,
before vou bring in vour product.

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Let’s look at one more example of such breakthrough advertising, and see the
solutions the copy offered that made the product a success. One of the great
ads of all times, of course, is the Sherwin Codv ad. Though most advertising
men are familiar with the ad, they do not realize that the course itself
was a tremendous departure for the times—far easier and simpler than
anything else that had gone before. But the prospects for such a course
were absolutely convinced that good English was too hard for them. They had
tried to learn it before, and had failed. Therefore, any new course that
could be successfully sold to them would have to redefine English for them
. . . redefine mistakes in English for them . . . and certainly redefine
the process of turning; bad English into good English for them. The Codv
ad is a masterpiece of Gradualization. It should be memorized—not merely
studied—by every copywriter. However, within it, in four paragraphs, is
contained another masterpiece of breakthrough redefinition—from hard to
easy with a few simple ideas—that goes like this: Onlv 15 Minutes a Day.
Nor is there verv much to learn. In Mr. Cody’s years of experimenting, he
brought to light some highly astonishing facts about English. For instance,
statistics show that a list of sixty-nine words (with their repetitions)
make up more than half of all our speech and letter-icritin<i. Obviously,
if we could learn to spell, use and pronounce these words correctly,
we would go far toward eliminating incorrect spelling and pronunciation.
Similarly, Mr. Cody proved that there were no more than one dozen fundamental
principles of punctuation. If we mastered these principles, there would be no
bugbear of punctuation to hamper us in our writing. Finally he discovered
that twenty-five typical errors in grammar constitute nine-tenths of our
everyday mistakes. When one has learned how to avoid these twenty-five

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pitfalls, how readily one can obtain the facility of speech which denotes
the person of breeding and education! When the study of English is made
so simple, it becomes clear that progress can be made in a very short time.
No more than fifteen minutes a dav is required Thus the complicated becomes
simple—the hard becomes easy. This is the first use of Redefinition. Now
let’s look at the second:

2. Escalation H e r e you are dealing with a product which works, and which
is acknowledged to be easy enough to use—but which simply does not have
an appeal broad enough to assure it of a mass market. Your job here is to
escalate your product. To give it more importance in your prospect’s eves.
You do this again by Redefinition. You broaden the horizon of benefits
of the product. You redefine the role that the product pla\ s in the
prospect’s life. You widen the area of reward that your product yields to
the prospect—showing him that it enters into dozens of vital situations
every day, paving off for him wherehe might least expect it. For example,
let’s look at another ad for another English course forty years later. By now
people are not as sensitive to their punctuation or grammar. Now the negative
aspect has lost its appeal; people want good English as a persuasion tool to
win over other people. So good English must cease to be an end in itself. It
must be redefined, to become instead a means to a more important end—one
which is desired by far more people. And, since the positive aspect must
now be dominant, that part of good English which lias the greatest value
for persuading people—vocabulary— must now be featured.

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Here is the ad: Revolutionary new Word Power Machine makes you a master of
English overnight. Automatically gives vou a power-packed vocabulary—
to make your ideas crackle with excitement . . . to hold others spellbound
with the power of vour speech and your written word. Automatically spots
embarrassing errors in grammar, spelling, pronunciation vou didn’t even know
you were making. Clears them up at once. Frees vour mind from worrv . . . lets
you feel at ease in am- company . . . gives vou the blazing new self-confidence
vou need to make anybody like you—to win people over irresistiblv to your
point of view. . . . This approach redefines the benefits of the product,
shifting them from a less desirable area to one that will generate more
sales appeal. But this use of escalation—to increase benefit appeal—is
only one of the ways it can serve vou. Another is to increase the importance
of the product—showing that something the prospect wants very much hinges
directh upon the performance of your product. For example, in an ad for
spark plugs, this fact was pointed out to the reader: Yes. You pay $2,000
. . . 83.000 . . . $4,000 for your car. And a single 99c part robs i/ou
of the real power and enjoyment that car should give you. Or here, in an
advertisement for a speed math course: If you want to get ahead f a s t
. . . if vou want a position of real importance and responsibility—then
a knowledge of this kind of super-fast, super-accurate mathematics is ’AN
ABSOLUTE NECESSITY for your future! Or escalation can be used to show the
prospect that your product is not something to be put to work just once or
twice a

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week—but that it will be needed, and used, by him almost e v e n waking
minute. Here’s how this was done, in a single sub headline, in an ad for a
course on handling people: Your Entire Life is Spent Trying to Get Others to
Do What You Want—Without Fricti Oil: You must agree with this statement. And
therefore you must redefine the importance to yourself of a technique which
allows you to accomplish the all-pervading task more easily, more effectively
and more rapidly This is the second use of Redefinition—escalation. Now
let’s look at the third.

3. Price Reduction Here you have the product which, quite simply, costs too
much. Your job is to make that price seem less. You do it by a very simple
act of redefinition, like this: Why does the product cost too much? Because
it’s being compared icith other products in the same field. And how do you
whittle away, psychologically, at this price? Bij switching the comparison,
and relating it to some other, more expensive standard. For example, here is
an enormously successful mail order ad for spark plugs, which sold for $1.49
each, or one and a half times the standard for the field, and twice as much
as the discount price. Did the copywriter therefore sav that “Thev mav cost a
little more, but they’re worth every cent of it.” Of course not. He made them
cheap, and he did it in these two paragraphs of psychological redefinition:
Up to now these extraordinary SA FIRE INJECTORS were practically made by
hand and would have to sell for as high as $5 each. But we knew that 30 or
40 dollars was more than the average driver could afford—so we decided to
get the price down so low that these injectors would pav for themselves 12
times in one year of driving. So here is

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inv astonishing proposition. If you will check your cars performance before
and after you install your SA Fire Injector System and then tell your friends
and neighbors about them, here is what I am prepared to do for TOIL You can
have a set of SA FIRE INJECTORS for the year and model of your ear for only
a fraction of their value. If you act now they are only SI.49 each. . . .
Do you see how he does it? Do you see how many times he does it in these two
short paragraphs? As a last review of redefinition—because its techniques
are so important to you—let’s just list the individual phrases that
build up. again and again, the feeling of value and bargain. Here they
are. Did vou catch them all? "practically made by hand . . “would have to
sell for as hi^h as So each . . .” “30 or 40 dollars . . .” (Notice that
he repeats the hand-made price twice. First he gives it to vou per plug;
and then jor the entire set. Thus the new comparative price is reinforced;
you practically wince at the $40 figure since vou want the plugs by this
time. And you’re going to feel pretty good when he brings in the now-lower
figure in the next paragraph.) “pet the price down so low . . .” (Here is
the magic word, “low”; now legitimatized in your exes by the description of
the hand-made set in the phrases that preceded it.) “that these injectors
would pay for themselves 12 times in one year of driving. . .” (Not only
value, but reward. Not only low-priced, but gas-saving. And again, the
comparison to a higher figure—this time the money you’ll save on gas.)
“astonishing proposition . . .” (Now the price becomes so low that the
mere statement of it may cause you surprise. It may sound slightlv cornv
as we dissect it here, but it is incredibly effective in the context of the
ad. And most of it—perhaps all of it—is never consciously noticed by the
prospect. He simply realizes that he feels that a bargain is being offered
to him.) "If you will check your car’s performance. . . and tell your

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friends and neighbors about them . . ." (The introduction of a condition—an
action you must perform—in order to get the nowlow price. Used before in
the last chapter in a different context: here we see how the same device
works again to substantiate. with equal power, the feeling of value.)
“prepared to do . . .” (Again the connotation of favor, of allowance,
of discount.) “You can have . . .” (Not, “You can buy.” He is letting vou
have the plugs at the low price. Again, he is doing vou a favor. You are
getting a bargain.) “only $1.49 each . . .” (The classic modifier. The tenth
bargainphrase in these two paragraphs.) Notice how similar Gradualization
and Redefinition are. Notice how each operates below the surface of the
conscious mind. Gradualization by its structure—by its arrangement of
facts and phrases. Redefinition by its rearrangement of perspective. Each is
an extremely subtle and powerful wav of building belief. Each deserves much
more study than we can give it in this book. Let us now turn to some equally
powerful but more apparent mechanisms that also build belief.

11 THE FIFTH TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: MECHANIZATION

How to Verbally Prove That Your Product Does What You Claim As we have
observed repeatedlv, good advertising copy exists simultaneously in two
different places. Part of that copy is words on a page. Or sounds carried by
radio waves. Or pictures and sounds coming out of a television set. But the
other part of that copy—the crucial part—takes place in your prospect’s
brain. It is the series of reactions—planned reactions and anticipated
reactions—that your copy causes in his mind and his emotions. Actually,
when your prospect reads your copy, he is engaging in a silent dialogue with
you. You are feeding him ideas and images and emotions, in a planned pattern;
and he is feeding back to you reactions to these ideas and images and emotions.
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That they will be controlled reactions. That he will see the images you are
projecting. That he will understand and agree with the ideas that you are
advocating. That he will share the emotions you are suggesting he feel, and
even embellish and intensify them. But also, at the same moment, vou must be
fact that—included among these reactions—are also inevitable anticipations,
or demands, or questions on you must answer these questions or vour copv will

aware of the a number of his part. And fail.

What are these demands he is going to make from time to time on your
copy? Basically they fall into three classes: 1. Demands for more information,
more image, more desire. You have whetted his appetite; now you’ve got to
satisfy it. He is saying to vou: “Tell me more.” 2. Demands for proof. He
knows he wants it; now he wants to know that it’s true. He is telling you:
“Oh veah? Who savs so?” 3. Demands for a mechanism. He knows he wants the end
result; now he wants to know how you’re going to give it to him. He is saying:
“How does it work?” To write good copv, you have to play a dual role. At
the same time, you have to be copywriter and prospect. You have to develop
an almost foolproof sensitivity to these inevitable reactions. You have to
know the exact point that they are going to come in. You have to anticipate
them. You have to switch copv direction, fill in the wanted material, at the
precise point that your prospect loses interest in one theme and demands the
other. This is one of the most difficult parts of writing copv, and the exact
spot where many good ads break down and lose their prospect. And—since such
anticipation points occur several times in a single ad—you will find yourself
working over the same paragraph of “unimportant” copy hour after hour. All
vou know is that at this point something went wrong—at this point vour
prospect is dissatisfied. We will discuss these problems of copy direction
. . . anticipation points . . . etc. in Chapter 14, on Interweaving. At this

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point, however, let’s look more eloselv at the third demand: the demand
for Mechanism.

Verbal Proof This is the vital question: “Hoiv does it work0” Your prospect
is asking you here to give him a mechanism. He likes what vou promise—he
wants what vou promise—but he has to be convinced that your product can
aetuallv give it to him. You have to demonstrate vour product, in words,
logically, so that he can understand exactly H O W it gives him the end result
you promise. Since the beginning of advertising, of course, the eopv that
furnishes this information—that provides this mechanism—has been called
“Reason YVhv” copv. Claude Hopkins was its master. But there have been
few great selling ads of anv period that do not use it to convince their
prospect that their product actually works. In fact, the basic question vou
must ask yourself, about this device, when you sit down to write a piece of
copy, is not, “Should I use it?” Or “Should I build a mechanism into this
copv?” But simply: “How much?” How much mechanism does this copv need? This,
of course, depends—as so many other things in vour cop}’—on the State of
Awareness of your prospect. Is he familiar with the mechanism by which this
product works? Does he accept it? If so, then this part of your job is done
for vou. Other advertisers have spent their money to make this mechanism
familiar to vour prospect.

Stage One: Name the Mechanism You ma}’ now take advantage of their investment
bv simply naming the mechanism, and going on to beat them with your price
or other features. For instance, in the conventional camera ad, to back the

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headline claim, all that you’d have to do is name your mechanisms, like
this: TAKE FOOLPROOF PHOTOS WITH THE XENOPHON 1750 With Electronic Light
Setter. . . Push-Button Zomar Lens . . . Magazine Load . . . Only $135.
Here, the three mechanisms which insure the perfect pictures are simply
named, and not described at all. The prospect is already familiar with the
way they work from the other ads he has seen, and any further detailing of
their nuts and bolts would simply bore him. Therefore, you name them in as
bold type as possible, and go on to compete with your price. Most catalog
copy and retail copy needs to assume only this abbreviated form. It deals
with products which are already known, and whose mechanisms are already
understood and accepted. Therefore, any further wordage on these points
would only be wasted. But now we come to that vast array of products whose
mechanism cannot simply be named. Why? For two basic reasons: Stage Two:
Describe the Mechanism 1. Because the prospect doesn’t understand their
mechanism And 2. Because everybody else has the same mechanism, and the same
promise, and the same price. And the market is getting tired, and you need
a new way to compete. Let’s look at the simplest case—case #1—first:
Here your mechanism is not so well known, or not known at all, and you can’t
simply name it. You have to go into more detail; you have to describe it.
So you have the classic situation of Promise—Reason Whv. You build a
strong, quick promise—and then you follow up with the reason why you can
deliver that promise.

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This one-two punch of promise and reason whv is as old as advertising
itself. Here, for instance, is how Rinso used it in 1926. First thev give
the promise, like1 this: Who else wants a whiter wash—with no hard work?
How would vou like to see vour wash come out of a simple soaking—whiter than
hours of scrubbing could make it! Millions of women do it everv week. Thev’ve
given up washboards for good. ThevYe freed themselves forever from the hard
work and reddened hands of washdav. Now thev just soak—rinse—and hang
out to drv! In half the time, without a hit ol hard rubbing, the wash is
on the line—whiter titan ever! Notice how the original promise in the
headline has been taken and intensified in these first thi’ee paragraphs
of copv. The promise is repeated, in different words and from different
perspectives, over and over again in those first three paragraphs. But notice
too that—as the copv builds desire—it also builds a growing reaction on
the part of the woman reading it. This reaction can be expressed in one word:
“Hoic?” This promise sounds better and better . . . it begins to sound too good
to be true . . . now she needs reassurance fast. So the whiteness claims
stop. The copv shifts direction—and now begins to sell the mechanism, like
this: Dirt floats off—stains <jo. The secret is simplv Rinso—a mild,
granulated soap that gives rich, lasting suds even in the hardest water.
Just soak the clothes in the ereamv Rinso suds— and the dirt and stains
float off. Rinse—and the wash is spotless. Even the most soiled parts need
onlv a gentle rub between the fingers to make them snowv. Thus clothes last
longer, for there’s no hard rubbing against a board. Notice, first of all,
that this mechanism—the suds that float off dirt—is sold just as hard as
the whiteness storv it is brought in to prove. The first rule of mechanism
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scientific discourse. You must never allow it to become dull, or merelv
factual. You must load it with promise, load it with emotion. Every word in
good copy—including mechanism copy— sells. Only in these paragraphs,
the copy is selling a secondary claim (dirt floating off) that proves the
primary claim (a whiter wash). But still—it sells. Secondly, of course,
you’ll immediately notice how simple the mechanism is in this 1926 copy,
as compared with the same field today. In those days it was enough to
mention the facts that the suds floated off the dirt; the reader accepted,
as an evident truth, the fact that they would do so. Today, of course,
in our much more sophisticated and exploited market, she would no longer do
so. Todav vou would need far more mechanism. You would have to explain more,
promise’ deeper, perhaps even invent a miracle ingredient to do the work
for vou. Stage Three: Feature the Mechanism Which brings us to case #2 and
the difficult problem of what to do when vour market is highly sophisticated
. . . when promises sound alike . . . when price competition becomes suicidal?
This takes us back to Chapter 3, where we discussed marketsophistication
from another perspective. Here we discovered that mechanism—strong
mechanism—saleable mechanism—is not onlv a way to build belief, but may
actually become so important to the success of your product that you must
put it into the headline. These headlines are all mechanism headlines:
FLOATS FAT RIGHT OUT OF YOUR BODY.” “FIRST WONDER DRUG FOR REDUCING.”
RUN YOUR CAR WITHOUT SPARK PLUGS.” “SHRINKS HEMORRHOIDS WITHOUT SURGERY.”
TOMMY ARMOUR SAYS SMACK HELL OUT OF THE BALL WITH YOUR RIGHT HAND.”

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And hundreds more. Even/ one of them offers i/oti a new way to get what
i/ou’ve been wanting. A NEW7 WAY: a new mechanism; a new chance to satisfy
your desire—even if everything else vou’ve tried has failed vou. Mechanism,
therefore, can he inside vour ad, to prove vour main claim, or on top of
the ad. elevated bv the state of your market to becoming the main claim.
If people assume that thev know how vour product works. or if vour claim is
so new that thev don’t care, then all the mechanism you need can be summed
up in a word or a phrase. If people are not quite sure how it works,
describe the mechanism—in selling language—until thev have enough
reason-whv to believe vou. If you have, however, an exceptionally strong
or dramatic mechanism, or if you want to establish definite superiorih" to
other competing products, then sell hell out of that mechanism. We’ll see
some expert examples of how to do this in our next chapter, on Concentration-
when we’re sliown how to compare your product with the rest of vour field.

On the Importance of Mechanism When You Want to Convince Your Reader
That You’re Giving Him a Bargain One of the sad truths of our time—and
profession—is that our readers do not always beliexe the truth when we tell
it to them. Everv copy writer has had. at one time or another, a perfectly
marvelous product that just couldn’t be sold—because people wouldn’t believe
that it could do what he knew it could do. In the same way manv manufacturers,
and their agencies, are startled when thev cut a price—advertise the
reduction—and see no increase in sales. What happened? No one believed
them. A price cut—like a product advantage—is only as good as vour words,
and vour strategy, makes it.

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Price cuts must be justified. There must be a reason for them. A mechanism
behind them. Without such a mechanism— without such a reason-why you should
give this bargain—you are going to get only a fraction of its real sales
power. The great master of price-cut mechanization was Robert Collier. His
book—The Robert Collier Letter Book—is one of the great classics of
copvwriting know-how. Here is just one example of how Collier made his
price-cuts, not only believable, but dramatic: Before the Price Goes Up!
Dear Sir: A short time ago one of the old, reliable mills that makes the
finer qualities of woven Madras for shirts began sending out S.O.S. calls.
They had kept their plant going steadily for months, thinking that the usual
demand would easily take care of their excess output. But, with the weather
so generally unseasonable, the usual demand didn’t materialize. And there
thev were, heavily overstocked—and needing money. If we would take all
their surplus stock of the finer grades of woven Madras, amounting to a
quarter of a million yards, they offered to let us have them at wav below
any price we had ever paid for shirtings in all our years in business—at
far less than they could make the materials and sell them for today. We took
them—the whole quarter-million yards—at a tremendous savings in cost. . . .
A Bargain You May Never Get Again. . . . Let me point out the difference
between this logical. carefully-prepared introduction to the price slash,
and a simple. bare announcement of that slash. Here, the copy writer not
onlv emphasizes bargain over and over again, but brings in qualiti/ as a
counter-desire time after time. He thus uses a mechanism within a mechanism:
(1) the unseasonable weather causing (2 1 the factory to become overstocked
resulting in the primary markdown—to build belief upon belief.

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Here the copv starts with the mechanism, and onlv goes into the bargain claims
six paragraphs later. Again, he has taken the Creative Gamble: in this case,
that he could hold the reader’s interest for those six paragraphs. And. because
of this gamble, lie reaps ten times the believabilitv for e v e n word he
said about the bargain-value of his offer from that point on.

12 THE SIXTH TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: CONCENTRATION

How to Destroy Alternate Ways for Your Prospect to Satisfy His Desire As vou
know, in the final analysis, no successful copy ever sells a product. It sells
a way of satisfying a particular desire. And its power to sell ultimately comes
from the intensity of that desire. If the desire is commercial—that is,
if it is shared by masses of people, and if each of these people want that
satisfaction enough to pay the price required for a mechanism to satisfy
it—then it is highly probable that many firms will try to deliver that
mechanism, or product, to them. The almost universal condition of commercial
life is competition. No one who sells am’thing, of course, can avoid it. As
you write, one eye is fixed on your market, and the other on your competitors.
We have described in this book several different ways of

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beating competition. Let’s stop for a moment and review them: First, of
course, is superiority of product. This is the ultimate weapon in the war
for the consumers dollar. If you produce the best product, your advertising
has a hundred times the chance of success than if you produce only a fair
product. Most great ads have been associated with great products. Most great
copy claims come from the assembly line. If vours does not. if your copy
is better than your product, then send it to vour client instead of your
prospect, and tell him to make it a reality. But even the best product
needs equally as effective cop\ to induce people to try it. Otherwise,
the excessive cost of getting the first purchase may drive the product off
the market, before the repeat sales can build up high enough to earn- it
through. So we come to our second weapon to beat competition—superiority
of promise. A stronger promise, that evokes more desire. A wider promise,
that causes more people to buv. A more believable promise, that brings
in the skeptics as well as the susceptible. This entire book has been
a blueprint for developing such promises. Third, we have the weapon
of product-role. The role the product allows its consumer to plav. The
personality, the identification, the prestige, the status, the excitement vou
can bring out of your product, or graft onto it. Fourth, we have response
and reaction as a competitive force—the ability to one-up the competition:
to escalate claims when necessary; to shift mechanisms; to invade new markets.
And fifth—the technique we will discuss in this chapter—is direct attack.
Direct attack—the mechanism of Concentration— differs completely from the
other four methods we have discussed above. All these techniques have the
common element of ignoring the competition. They concentrate on your storv,
,/our proniises^/o//;benefits, your product. They act as though’there is
no other winpossible of gaining the satisfaction your prospect desires.
Therefore, they are most effective when vou dominate a

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field, when vour primary problem is to protect your customers’ lovalty against
the claims of your competitor, or when your story is so powerful, so different,
or so fresh that the competition has nothing to match it. In these cases, it’s
better not to give him the prestige of attack, not to mention his claims or
his product, even invidiously, in the space which costs you such a dear dollar.
But in many other cases—especially where your advertising budget is much less
than his—especially where the bulk of your prospects are already customers of
his—your first problem may be to crack his image, to shatter their loyalty,
before you can rechannel their desire around to vou. What Concentration Is
But this process of Concentration—this careful, logical, documented process
of proving ineffectual other ways of satisfying vour prospect’s desire—is
much more than mere attack. If you can only attack another product—without
showing at the same time, by comparison, how your product provides what the
other lacks—then say nothing at all! Never attack a weakness unless you
can provide the solution to that weakness at the same time! The reason
for this is simple. Your prospect knows that your attack is biased. If,
therefore, you are attacking another product onlv for your own good—in
other words, to win the sale by disparaging your competitor—what you will
probably evoke in his mind is skepticism and dislike, and very little else.
But—and this is the critical point in this process—if you can show your
customer that this attack is for his own good, in his sendee, because your
product will eliminate this weakness, then you have a sales story he will
accept. Then you will make him question even the most ingrained loyalty.
Concentration, therefore, is the process of pointing out weaknesses in the
competition . . . emphasizing their disservice to your prospect . . . and
then proving to him that your product gives him what he wants without them.

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Notice that all the techniques that we have developed in the last few chapters
are used here. Intensification to show the penalties of continuing with the
old product. Gradualization to show the logical cause of the weaknesses and
how thev can now be cured. Mechanization to prove that your product removes
the weakness. And so on. Concentration is therefore a complicated process,
taking up sizable space to do its job properlv, and combining almost every
trick you have learned in this book. To see how incredibly effective it
can be, however, let us look at two masterful examples. The first is our
spark plug ad again. As vou remember, in copy, the copy writer has told
his prospect that he can run car without spark plugs, that he can get more
gas mileage more power if he puts “fire injectors” into his car instead of
old-fashioned plugs. Now he goes on to: 1. Provide the mechanisms which
prove his own claim; and 2. To destroy the prospect’s confidence in plugs
forever, in this brilliant piece of interweaving copy: the his and the

MECHANICS AND ENGINEERS READ THIS CAREFULLY And for you mechanics and
engineers let me tell vou why fire injection must give vou these results.
A spark plug jumps a spark of electricity across an air gap. This is the
most wasteful and power consuming wav to get electricity from one place to
another and it limits the size of the spark. Afire injector fires on the
surface of an electrical conductor This is the most efficient wav to get a
big powerful spark into your cylinder. On ordinary spark plugs the air gap
between the electrode and the firing point is always getting bigger because
the electrode is always burning awav. This means vou have misfiring which
means loss of power plus wasted gas plus raw gas to damage the cylinders
and piston rings. On fire injectors there is no air gap and no electrode to
burn away. That means maximum gas explosion which means full

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power, full economy and no raw gas to wash away the oil protection from
cylinder walls and pistons. A spark plug accumulates filth and carbon
because oi inefficient firing. This means vou need regular cleaning,
setting and expensive replacement! A fire injector never needs cleaning or
setting. It actually- “breaks in” and becomes more efficient with use. It will
actually outlast your car, delivering maximum efficiency without servicing or
replacement. A spark plug gives you a thin skimpy spark that actually blows
out under pressure of less than 120 pounds. A fire injector gives you a heavy
powerful flame that will not blow out at pressures far heavier than those
created bv even the highest compression engine. . . . With ordinary spark
plugs you are using, or should he using premium gas which costs from 4 to 8
cents more than ordinary gas, and despite this you’re getting inefficient,
wasteful gas consumption. With fire injectors regular gas will give you
up to 8 more gas miles per gallon, up to 31 more horsepower, plus easier
starting in all weather. Add these savings together and see for yourself whv
I sav that fire injectors will pay for themselves every single month that
you drive your car. Ordinary spark plugs have to he replaced regularly.
In some of the new high-compression cars, a set of plugs will burn up in a
couple of months. Afire injector installation is guaranteed for the life of
your car without cleaning, servicing, or replacing. These are some of the
reasons that the U.S. Air Force pays premium prices for surface supported
injectors for their aircraft and why vou will ultimately find fire injectors
in all automobiles. . . .

Let’s See How He D o e s It I hope that by now you have spotted many of the
techniques he uses to gain his effects . . . to build the overall power of
this sequence. Let’s just check off a few of them right now: First, of course,
is the interweaving contrast. A weakness in the operation of the spark plug
is pointed out, and then immedi-

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ately counteracted by the benefit the injector gives you. Bad— good;
bad—good; bad—good: this is the underlying structure of this sequence.
But this is only one use he makes of parallelism. He repeats words to
contrast the inherent weakness of the plug with the inherent strength of the
injector. "A spark plug jumps a spar*. "Afire injector fires on. . . . "
Spark is a weak word; fire is much stronger visually And he later intensifies
this contrast of image by saying: "A spark plug gives you a thin skimpy spark.
against "A fire injector gives you a heavy, powerful flame " You can picture
the difference. Throughout the copy, definition and re-definition take place.
Spark firing is the “most wasteful and power consuming way” as opposed to
“the most efficient way to get a big powerful spark.” Misfiring means “loss
of power plus . . . ,” while maximum gas explosion means full power, full
economy. . . ." (Notice the parallel sentence structure here sharpening the
contrast.) And, in a beautiful image, the fire injector actuallv “breaks
in”—a masterpiece of redefinition by analogy. Of course, almost every
benefit has its documentary- mechanism. The air gap in ordinary plugs gets
bigger “because the electrode is burning away.” The spark plug gets dirtv
“because of inefficient firing.” And so on. Let me point out again the general
structure of this sequence It is: * Bad. Good. Bad. Good. Bad. Good.
And so on. It thus offers repeated, direct, one-for-one contrast. It explores
a number of performance factors of vital interest in the prospect—showing
the bad and then the good side of each of them.

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A Second Strategy This is one way of accomplishing your Concentration. But,
of course, it is not always feasible, because the points you wish to contrast
mav not be so easily and clearly broken down, one bv one. You may be dealing,
instead, with a time sequence—a recurring, unpleasant experience with which
the prospect is familiar, and which you wish to sharpen before you provide
him with the antidote. In this case your Concentration copy would adopt a
different structure. Something that looks more like this: What happens to
you now. with the product or products you are using presentlv. What will
happen when vou switch to the new product. Here is such a structure, for
an ad selling a reducing pill. Let’s look first at the negative copy: For
years doctors have known that ordinary reducing plans—that vou pay S5,
$10 and even 815 for in the stores— are completely passive! That they
depend strictly on your own will power—on vour ability to starve that
fat off your bodv. All that these ordinary reducing plans are able to give’
vou . . . for vour $5 or 810 or S15—are HUNGERAPPEASING PRODUCTS—pills,
powders and liquids that do nothing more than swell up in your stomach—that
do nothing more than “dull” your hunger a little. But not one of these
products could do anything to ACTIVELY help you reduce your weight. To take
the strain off that starvation diet. To actually help vou BURN UP that uglv
fat. . . OXIDIZE that fat. . . MELT IT AWAY— FOREVER! So what happened? If
you were overweight, you struggled to do the job of reducing BY YOURSELF! You
took vour hunger-appeasing pills religiously. You pushed away the foods vou
love. You spent week after week of torture. And finally, if vou were lucky;
you carved off 5, 10, or even 12 precious pounds. And then your will power
snapped! You broke your terrible diet. You discovered that your little pills
were use-

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less to keep you away from the foods vou loved. And the fat flowed
back—heavier and uglier and more deadhj than ever before! Again, let’s
glance at the means the writer used to get his b total effect. In the first
and second paragraphs—Definitions and Redefinition. Ordinary reducing
plans are passive. They depend on vour own will power. They can do nothing
to actively bum up fat. And in the third paragraph, the equating of taking
ordinarv reducing pills with “doing the job of reducing yourself.” ^ Next,
logic—cause and effect. Given the acceptance of these definitions by the
reader, the third and fourth paragraphs become a logical necessity. This tone
of cause and effect is conveved in the phrase: “So what happened?” Now, of
course, the third and fourth paragraphs condense an experience which is all
too common to everv woman who has ever tried to reduce. She has lived through
this herself, time after time. She recognizes each of the symptoms. And so
she finds herself nodding her head, agreeing with each in its turn, building
up a stream of acceptances which carries more and more conviction as she
finds her own experiences more and more thoroughly described. And then,
at the climax, in the last line of the fourth paragraph, the destniction of
the old methods of reducing is complete. Notice the use of the word “And”
to tie this final indictment in structurally with the stream of sensory
experiences that have gone before it. There is no doubt that the fat has come
back again in this woman’s life—if it hadn’t, she wouldn’t have read this
much of the ad. But here the inevitable implication buried in a sentence with
which no woman could disagree—is that it icas the failure of the pills that
caused the failure of the diet. Thus the stage is set for the hero-product
to emerge. It has already been foreshadowed in the second paragraph—in the
negative accusations that these ordinary methods can do nothing “actively”
to “burn awav” fat.

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Now the copv goes on, from failure to promise, like this: And so vou tried
another passive plan. And another. And another. And then if vou were like
the men and women whose fantastic case histories w ere reported by leading
medical journals—perhaps vou went to vour doctor and asked him for an easy
way out—without torture—and without sliding hack! These doctors had the
answer in a tiny grey pill—and a common-sense plan. In their hands—so tinv
that thev could balance it on the tip of their little finger—was perhaps
the greatest weapon ever discovered against deadlv, excess fat. It was a
miraculous compound called LECITHIN—brandnew—whose amazing fat-dissolving
properties had been discovered bv a Nobel prize winner—the co-discoverer
of insulin. . . . Because this product was perfectly safe—and as easy to
take as an aspirin—main had used it themselves when they wanted to lose
weight. . . . Thev were not given am starvation diets . . . thev never
experienced a single hungry moment . . . they reported, in case after case,
that thev felt more pep. more energy, more youth and vitality than thev had
known in years! And then, dav after dav faster and easier and safer than
thev had ever known before, the ugly excess fat around their bodies melted
awav! While thev were eating three delicious meals a dav, thev were shedding
as much as 5 pounds a week. While thev were feasting on mouth-watering
steaks. . . . And so on. Right back into Intensification copy, with its
strong picture-image sell. Here are vour contrast—vour mechanization—your
documentation—your reference to authority—and then your return to promise,
in the form of case history, which now has many times its original power,
based on both the elimination of alternate channels of fulfillment, and the
strong supporting mechanism which documents its claims.

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One Final Word on Concentration I have purposely chosen extreme examples to
illustrate each mechanism. These copy blocks are longer than Concentration
need logically be. The same effect may be boiled down into two or three
sentences, or even a single phrase, as in this classic headline: “SHRINKS
HEMORRHOIDS WITHOUT SURGERY.” Here is contrast—implied weakness in other
products—compensating promise in vour own. Again, it is not the content,
nor is it the length of copy used in a mechanism that makes it effective. It
is simply and solelv the problem it solves for you in the development of
your copy— by the emotional reaction it produces on your reader when he
encounters it. If, in this case, vou have caused him to question a habit . . .
shift a lovalty . . . take a chance on your product—you have done your job,
no matter how few or how many words vou have used to do it.

13 THE SEVENTH TECHNIQUE OF BREAKTHROUGH COPY: CAMOUFLAGE

How to Borrow Conviction for Your Copy We have now discussed five separate
wavs to build believabilitv into vour copv. I do not think we should leave
this subject without at least mentioning one other, entirely different,
approach—that oi borrowing believabilitv from all the places in our society
where it is stored up. The process bv which vou do this is quite simple. As
vou know, people do not bin’ a newspaper, or a magazine, or anv other medium
of communication for its ads at all. They buv this publication—or thev turn
on their radio and television set—to keep in touch icith the world around
them; to learn what’s happening, and whv it’s happening. To be entertained,
or enlightened, or simplv kept up to date. Now, when a person chooses one
of the publications (and for a moment we’ll disregard radio and television),
he does so because he believes that that publication is telling him the truth.
He has faith in that publication. He believes in it. 185

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And, as long as he has faith in that publication (as any space buyer can
tell you) it remains an excellent medium for advertising—because some
of his trust carries over from the editorial pages to the advertising
pages. He simply assumes that his publication wouldn’t carry the ad if
it weren’t true. And, on the other hand, when he loses faith in that
publication, the effectiveness of its advertising just goes to pieces. If he
no longer believes in the publication, he won’t believe in the advertising
it carries. This factor—the believability in the medium itself—I think
is a far more important consideration in buying space than mere circulation.
All this is of vital interest to the space buyer, of course, but we have
to go a step further. You see, not only does this reader come to believe in
the publication which he buys repeatedly, but after a while he becomes used
to receiving his tmth couched in the style and format and phraseology of
that particular publication. In other words, a conditioned reflex has been
formed here. The man believes in the publication. The publication phrases
its material in a certain way. After a while, that phraseology begins to
carry an aura of truth all by itself no matter what material it embraces.
Thus, you have waiting for your ad—if it is adapted the right way—a
stored believability. A believability reflex. Which you can tap by adopting
this particular publication’s phraseology when you address its audience.
Let’s Look at a Few Examples I’ll try to show you the three different ways you
can borrow this built-up believability: First, of course, and most obvious,
is Format. Each publication has its own look. You have your copy. Your job
is to merge both of them into a combination that will: 1. Allow the reader
to enter into your ad with the least possible mental shifting of gears from
“editorial” to “advertisement.”

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Vr> I

2. Carrv along the greatest possible amount of believability through every
sentence of the ad. I have not discussed layout in this book, because I
do not believe layout is nearly as effective as copy in determining the
results of your ad. Here, however, layout is important. A single change in
format can add 50% to your readership, and your results. Your job here,
once again, is to approximate as closely as possible the format of the
medium in which you are advertising. This means, ideally, letting them
set vour ad . . . using their kind of headline-to-body-copy transition
. . . using their illustrations, their sub heads, their break-up of space.
On the following pages are two ads for the same book on handling people. The
first is an all-purpose, house-set magazine ad that was shotgunned over
twelve or fifteen media. It was mildly successful. The second is the
same ad. adapted feature for feature for the Wall Street Journal. It was
enormously successful—so much so that it has been repeated i at the time
of this writing) nineteen times, once a month, with no drop-off in pull.
Let’s look at the changes that give this adapted format such continued
believability: 1. The headline, set by the journal in journal type. There
is no difference between this old-fashioned, upper-and-lower-case headline
and any other headline in the editorial content of this issue. Therefore,
it does not immediately signal the reader: “This is an ad: beware!” To have
made it bolder, or more modern, or in all caps, would simply diminish its
effectiveness. 2. The sub headlines—two of them, one following directly on
the other. Verv Nineteenth Century, really. Abandoned years ago by 99% of all
American newspapers. But the Journal uses it, and therefore the ad uses the
same treatment. And the very fact that it is so unusual, and so old-fashioned,
makes its adaptation that much more belief-carrying in this context.

1S9

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3. The two bars One of those small would lose some of sphere (believabilitv,
adaptations.

directly above and below the first sub head touches that defines
individualitv. The ac its atmosphere without them. And atmotrust) is what
you’re seeking with these

4. The placement of subheads to the extreme left of the column. Another minute
detail. Bad lavout according to the a^encx art director. But again, in perfect
harmony with the format of the editorial content. 5. The line drawing of the
author. An uglv rendering. Far less attractive than the photograph of the same
man in the magazine ad. And yet the Journal does not use photographs of the
men they picture in their editorial columns. And so this ad must do the same,
even at the cost of harrowing screams of pain from its authors (until they see
their rovaltv checks). Thus, what has been done by these adaptations, is that
a corny, old-fashioned, rather ugly advertisement has been developed for this
specific medium—which has about twice the believability, twice the pulling
power, and twice the staving power of the same exact copy and illustration
presented the massproduced wav. Is it worth the extra cost? Yes. Should it
be done for each important medium in turn? Yes. Why? Because in so doing,
you are tapping the ingrained trust that the reader has for each medium in
turn, and channeling at least part of it, unconsciously, onto vour product.
This, then, is the first method of borrowing this built-in believability:
adopting format.

The Second Way to Borrow Believabilitv The second—slighth- less specific—is
adopting phraseology. This method stems from the fact that certain media,
or classes of media, use certain stereotyped phrases over and over again,
which after a while take on a believabilitv of their own.

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In newspapers, to take the most obvious example, there is usually an issue
date, a city of origin, and perhaps a by-line. Each of these news-indicators
may be picked up by the copv writer to add believability to his opening,
as in this extremely successful example: SKIN SPECIALIST DEMONSTRATES

HOW TO RINSE AWAY YOUR BLACKHEADS Bv Claire Hoffman New York, N.Y.—A leading
doctor today showed an audience of men. women and skintroubled teenagers how
to clean oily skin and shrink enlarged pores with a lO-minute home medical
treatment he has perfected. . . ." And so on. The news tone has been set
by the opening phrases. The entire remainder of the copy has been given the
atmosphere of a report rather than a sales story by these first few sentences.
The same principle can be used for each of the other classes of media vou
employ. In direct mail, look for the key correspondence your prospect receives
that are opened instantly without exception. Some examples would be refund
checks, government correspondence, dividend notices, confidential reports,
high-priced newsletters, etc. In radio and TV, adopt the news format and the
news phraseology’. Even, if possible, adopt the news "sound"—the clipped
phrase of the newscaster, the insider tone of the analyst, the documentary feel
of the news, hand-held camera. Study the channels of communication that people
believe in. Adopt their tone, their feel, their style, their sincerity. Make
your ads blend in, so there is no jarring transition. Camouflage them.

Believability-Borrowing Strategy #3 In a later chapter, we’ll deal with
mood directly. However, as the last method of borrowing believability,
I want to mention

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two mood adaptations that rightly belong j„ this discussion. We’ve seen
that you borrow vour publications format and your publications phraseology
or stvle. These two methods ol adding confidence to your copy depend directly
on the particular medium you are using at am particular moment. You pick up
that publications appearance and idiom, as it were, because people have come
to contrast that editorial manner of presentation with ••advertising
language" in general and because they automatically trust the first, and
automatically approach the second with an ingrained skepticism. In other
words, advertising language, which is .mite naturalK biased language and
emotionally-charged language, tends to produce a counter-reaction in its
prospects bv its verx appearance. To overcome this instant and automatic
skepticism—besides borrowing our host publications idiom—we also have two
other idioms which allow us to escape the hard-sell" stereohpe. The first
is Understatement. Simplicity. A lack’of color words. Fewer adjectives than
the reader would expect \o superlatives. Short sentences, that fall rather
than rise in tone at their end. For example, take any Volkswagen ad. Count
the number of nouns per sentence, and compare it to the number of adjectives
See how the ad kids itself—never takes itself too seriously Notice how
it makes its point quietly, and them stops. Even how the extremely short,
extremely simple
sentence structure adds to the reeling of sincerity.
Here is a complete Volkswagen ad. which features one superiority of the car
over competitive models. Could ,,ou have told the storv as well, ex-en if
you used ten times as many words? You never run out of air You also won’t
have am worries about draining or Hushing the radiator in spring. Then-
is no radiator. " Or hoses. Or water pump. Or rust.

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And so there are no worries about anti-lreeze in the fall or cracked blocks
in the winter. If vou feel that vou owe vour Volkswagen engine a little
something special every spring and fall, you can do this much. Just run it
once around the block and let it air itself out. This is great copv because
of its simplicity and its image and its sell, all of which interact to give
a very powerful argument to anvone looking for a new car. Also, I’d suggest
that vou study any of the old Claude Hopkins ads, or John E. Kennedy if’rom
the old Lord & Thomas days) to get the same power of sincerity without
the limiting whimsy. Or the great radio and TV pitches of the Fifties.
There is little advertising being written this way, and its very raritv makes
it even more effective. It will not solve every selling problem, but where
it is effective—especialh* in continuous campaigns—it is very effective
indeed. The second mood vou mav employ to break away from the “advertising”
stereorvpe is what 1 call Deadly Sincerity. This is the technique of leaning
over backwards to point out the flaxes in an offer, so that the benefits,
when you bring them in, will be believed that much more deeply. Since this
is not done in ordinary advertising—since ordinary copv does not knock its
product as well as praise it—it carries great emotional impact, especially
in highly-competitive fields. Here is an example, for a book on getting
ahead on your job, which had to run after a hundred books on the same subject
had already appeared in the same publication: TO THE MAN WHO WILL SETTLE FOR
NOTHING LESS THAN THE PRESIDENCY OF HIS FIRM And who is willing to make the
incredible sacrifices necessary to get there in the shortest possible time.
Here is the most realistic handbook ever written for vou—and vou alone.

LU4

S E V E N T H T E C H N I Q U E OF B R E A K T H R O U G H COPY: CAMOUFLAGE

This is a private advertisement. It is not meant for ninety-nine men out of
everv hundred. These men do not have the drive—the impossible pride—the
absolute compulsion to succeed that this advertisement demands . . .
And so on. You can see immediately, in the first few paragraphs of this ad,
how the tone of utter frankness is set. The use of such “non-advertising
phraseology” as “incredible sacrifice”. . . “impassible pride”. . . “absolute
compulsion”. . . “this advertisement demands” set the ad off from the others
around it—give it an air of unpredictability that induces the reader to
go on. In our next chapter when we discuss Reinforcement, we shall see how
this tone of complete fairness, and even criticism, can make a comparatively
minor claim take on immense emotional impact. But for now it is sufficient to
point out that this is one more way to break out of the hard-sell stereotype,
and gain almost the same type of believability that would be given to a
factual report.

14 THE FINAL TOUCHES

Let’s now review what we’ve done up to this point, and the last few problems
that we have to consider. We started this book with the idea that there
was a definite technique that could produce better headlines than the ones
you were using yesterday. And. since the headline is so vitally important to
the success or failure of vour ads, we devoted the first part of our book to
this creative search. Then, in the second part, we investigated the equally
important problem of how to exploit that headline. How to lead the prospect
from the feeding of interest and curiosity that your headline had aroused
in him, into a constantly mounting conviction that this product has what he
wants, and that it is absolutely capable of giving it to him. You use body
copy to accomplish this second objective— perhaps a lot of it, perhaps
very little. In either case, we’ve examined the three interlocking paths by
which this effective demand is created: first, the intensification of desire;
then the creation of an acceptable product personality- or role with which 195

196

T H E FINAL T O U C H E S

the prospect will want to identify; and then the rather abstract structure
underlying your copy arrangement that produces believability of vour story.
So now we Ye seen how to reach out to your prospects mind on all three
emotional lex-els: Desire . . . Identification . . . and Belieyabilirv. Now,
as our last problem, we have to put all tliese elements together. We haxe to
take all these promises, these images, these devices, these structures—and
weave them together into one cohesive unit, that holds your prospect’s
attention from beginning to end. In other words, having broken down the ad to
analyze the elements that make it work—we now have to deal with the reverse
problem: tying it together once again. We have several additional devices
that help us do this. We Ye already touched on them in passing in previous
chapters. Now let’s examine them more closely see what makes them operate.
formalize them into working rules. Like this:

Verification—How to Offer Authorities and Proof Now, of course, comes the
most obvious kind of believability copy. Your proof: your statistics; your
tests; vour testimonials: your authorities; vour trends; vour documentation;
vour seals of approval; your awards won. Any fact at all that vou can use,
anywhere in the copy, to show that your product does what vou saxit does.
The key words here are anyichere in your copy. Because, as I hax-e tried
to shoxv in the last four chapters, the placement of your proof is as
important to its overall effect as the content itself. I can’t tell you
anything about gathering proof that xour oxxn research department doesn’t
knoxv a hundred times better. Or, if you have no research department, that
good hard digging won’t give you. There are no special rules to phrasing
proof—except, perhaps,

T H E FINAL T O U C H E S

1^’

to keep it as short as possible, as dramatic as possible, as specific as
possible. And, above all. remember that proof copy, like every other word in
vour ad, is selling copy. It cannot merely offer proof alone. It must offer
the kind of proof that makes the prospect hungry to read everv word of it. and
it must make him want the product more and more at the end of every line.
Fine. But the next question is: where do you place the proof in your ad? At
what point or points will it be most effective? And, next, how manv different
proofs or tests or testimonials or what have vou should you include in the
ad? When do you put them in. and when (if ever’ do you leave them out? When
do thev make the ad too heavy? When do they make it dull 0 When do thev make
it too much to be believed? We have been discussing these questions, though
not in this context, for the last four chapters. For the last four chapters
we have been discussing the placement and structure of claims, of promises. We
have found that the more you prepare for those claims, and the more agreeable
vou have made your reader to accepting them, the more powerful they become.
The same exact rules hold for vour proof. Proof—like claims— is most
effective ichen the reader unconsciously demands it, and when he is reach/
to accept its content as necessary and logical. This is the rule. As simple
and concrete as this. All the rest is application. We’ve gone over, quite
carefullv, the four processes that determine position in vour ad. They are,
once again: 1. Gradualization—the development of a stream of acceptances
from vour reader to vour statements, leading finally to an inevitable demand
on the part of that reader for your product. 2. Redefinition—the removal
of preconceived objections on the part of vour prospect toward your product,
by providing him with a new definition of that product. 3. Mechanization—the
verbal proof that your product works—that it does what vou sav it does.

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THK FINAL T O U C H E S

4. Concentration—the verbal proof that other alternate pre rod nets do not
do this essential function as well. Now, every one of these processes is
effective, not onlv in increasing the believability of vour claims, but also
in increasing the believabilitv of vour proof. And, in exactly the same wav,
in everv one of these processes, there is a place for your proof to appear
where it will do twice as much good for your copy as it would aimvhere else.
For example, go back and look at the Concentration copv in the spark plug
ad that we analvzed in Chapter 12. Here was a point-after-point comparison
of the weaknesses of spark plugs contrasted with similar strengths in fire
injectors. At the end of this sequence, the writer had built up tremendous
believability. He could have done manv things with that believability. He could
have switched it into an immediate restatement of his main claims. He could
have channeled it directly into asking for the order. He could have gone into a
monev back guarantee, etc. Instead, he chose to pile proof upon believabilitv
in this wav: “These are some of the reasons that the U.S. Air Force pai/s
premium prices for surface supported injectors for their aircraft . . . .”
And, in so doing, strengthens the power of both the believability copy that
went before, and the authoritv-reference that now follows. Thus, and we’ll
take this up in greater detail in the Reinforcement section that follows,
in copy 1 + 1 can often equal 10. By adding one powerful piece of copv—at
preeiselv the right moment—to another, you can get an overall effect far
greater than these two pieces of copy would ever produce, if thev were just
spread out all over the page. Position increases power. We continue to find
new examples ot this ever\- time we explore another copv process. And how
about the other three processes? How does vour proof interact with them?

T H E FINAL T O U C H E S

199

Well, take Gradualization. Study the TV Repair Manual ad again. Notice
the exact point that the ‘“manufacturers test rooms” are brought into the
copy—at the very moment that the reader is begging for some sort of solution
to the problems that the copy has intensified over and over again. Here,
at this point, the reader is searching for an answer. Here the exact same
proof which might be merely dull statistics if it were presented earlier,
suddenly takes on a sharpened drama— because the reader now is fully aware
of its importance, and is ready to explore every word. Again, I must repeat
that the main problem with documentation is that it is inherently dull. Your
job, therefore, is to add excitement to it. You have to stage it. You have
to develop a drama, in your readers mind, into which your documentation
enters as the hero. In which statistics suddenly become charged with
emotion—because you’ve made them the solution to whatever stands between
your reader and the satisfactions that he craves. I could go on, and give
examples of the interaction of proof and each of the remaining mechanisms,
but I think you would gain far more bv doing it yourself. Instead, let me sum
up by saying this: Documentation is any sort of proof—statistics, facts,
tests, etc.—that your product works. Mechanization on the other hand
(in case there may be a confusion in your mind) is the verbal and logical
demonstration, and thus also proof, that vour product works. Mechanization
does not necessarily have to incorporate any outside documentation at all to
prove its point—it does this on the strength of its logic and its structure
alone. Verification—which is different from both of them—is the process
of arranging your documentation within your copy so that it gains the greatest
immediate acceptance from your reader, and has the greatest emotional effect
on him. Thus, I would suggest that you stop thinking of placing your

z u u

T H E FINAL T O U C H E S

documentation only in the headline of vour ad, or in the subhead, or in a
separate box labelled. “Here’s Proof.” I would suggest instead that you
start thinking of documentation as one more element (along with promises,
belief-words. momentum-builders, image-sharpeners, emotion-definers, and
all the rest which we’ll explore before we finish) to be interwoven together,
side by side—so that, combined, thev give vou far greater emotional power
and believabilitv than anv one of them could separately.

Reinforcement—How to Make Two Claims Do the Work of Four The first rule
of all copy, of course, is that it produce an emotional impact. As we have
seen, over and over again, even in believabilitv copy, even in documentation,
every icord must carry image, picture, feeling. Now. the wonderful thing
about emotional writing, of which copy is one form, is this: That if you
employ it skillfully, then the impact of one emotion, plus the impact of a
second emotion, will often add up—non-mathematically—to the impact of
FOUR emotions. In mathematics, one plus one alwavs equals two—never more.
In emotional writing, one plus one can often equal ten. In other words, two
emotional images, joined together in the right waycan often have TEN TIMES
the impact that either of these images has hi) itself. For example, in the
classic Avis campaign, the main theme was “We try harder.” Good by itself;
but nowhere near as powerful as it became when it was reinforced by the
reason why Avis tries harder: “We’re only second.” These two separate ideas:
(1) We’re second; (2) Therefore. we try harder.—when they are combined,
take on a joint impact far greater than you could ever logically expect if
vou simply examined each one of them by itself. In fact, we can even define
one type of creativity as the

T1IK FINAL TOVCHKS

201

ahiliitj to combine separate images into a new uiiiti/ that is much more
powerful than the mere logical sum of Us parts. This is how new words are
horn. As well as new phrases. slogans, concepts, ideas. And. ot course,
headlines. Your job—and it’s a tough one is to do just this, image bv
image, throughout the entire !>od\ cop\ ol vonr ad. For example, in the
ad lor "the man who will settle for nothing less than the presidency ol
his firm’’ that we quoted in the last chapter, this sequence occurs: This
is John Horn’s first book, lie is not an accomplished writer, and it has
Haws. II \OII read tor stvle. or for literarv quality this is not \oiir book.
Bui there are jxirajraphs in liu\ hook—ideas in this hook—whole chapters
i>i this lnuik licit in here nerer seen put down on paper liejore’ \ud dial
mai/ open doors to (/on—tomorrow—thai olhrru i\< might take a lifetime
of waiting for i/ou to walk through! Notice how the startling frankness
of the first paragraph, which goes out of its wav to call the reader’s
attention to flaws in its product, serves as an intensifying contrast to the
positive claims of the second paragraph- making them far more believable
and therefore far more powerful to the reader who is now convinced that he
is receiving a fair report on this book. It is the juxtaposition ol these
two paragraphs—one following right on top of the other
- that makes their
combination so effective. Copvwriting. in nianv phases, is the search for
such juxtapositions. The last five chapters have been full of examples of
them. I suggest that vou go back and read these examples again, and underline
the combination points—and junctures—where one claim blends into another,
and either sharpens it, pours strength into it. or makes it more believable.
So. one wav vou tie vour ad together is to constantly build one claim on top
of another— -alwavs seeking to make each stronger and more believable bv
the combination.

202

T H E FINAL T O U C H E S

This same principle applies in a smaller way in our next device.
Interweaving—How to Blend Emotion, Image and Logic Into the Same Sentence
Let me mention at this point a thought that has probably occurred to you
several times over the past few chapters: The big trouble with analysis of
the kind we’ve been doing in the second part of this book is that after a
while it begins to sound quite mechanical. You’ve probably thought that I’m
suggesting that you abandon any kind of creative flow, and work like a sort of
phrase-carpenter. Here you put in a promise; there vou nail on a believability
sentence; then cover both of them with a good strong identification.
This is what it sounds like because it takes so long to identify each one
of these devices and show vou how to work them. Because of this need for
analysis—which always requires that vou cut individual elements out of the
“life-flow” of a growing ad— it sounds like you should actually be conscious
of each device as you are using it to write that ad—even going so far as to
name the device as vou weave it in. I don’t think I have to tell you that this
mechanical approach is not my idea, and that it won’t work. What I’m trying
to do is exactly the same procedure that a golf pro uses when he wants to
improve your game. He doesn’t just let you go out and plav. He stops you,
makes you notice your hands, rationalize your grip. shift your fingers,
get used to the new feel of the club as you lift it this new way, and then
take a few practice swings—all at the same time that he’s telling you why
you’re doing it this way. When you’re swinging for the first few times, this
new wav. you feel pretty awkward, and you’re conscious of everv muscle in
your arms. That’s why he has you keep swinging—through one bucket. . . two
buckets . . . ten buckets of balls. Pretty soon, though, those arm muscles
are going to feel comfortable in that new swing. And you’re going to lose your

T H E FINAL T O U C H E S

203

conscious awareness of them. At that point, what was mechanical before becomes
intuitive now. But it’s a new kind of intuition—far more, skillful and
effective than you had before. This is the kind of intuition I’m trying
to build in vou. I’m trying to take you from Creatix itv #1 to Creativity
#2. Both are intuitive states, where you write from the full depths of
vour emotions as well as your mind, and when 1 vou are no more conscious
of the mechanisms and devices that vou are employing to gain your effects,
than you are of the movements of vour fingers on the typewriter kevs. But,
to get you from State #1 to State #2. 1 have to bring all these details to
consciousness—and make vou awkward in a new and more effective wav than
vou were when vou first learned to write copy—so that you can take these
insights and techniques and bury them inside your own talent—so that vou
can automatically employ them, without thinking about them at all. when vou
want to express most powerfully vour ideas, vour emotions and vour sales
philosophy. This whole process of “New Awkwardness leading to NewAbility”
is seen quite clearly in the very simple technique of Interweaving, which I
learned from a brilliant man bv the name of Walter S. Campbell. Every copy
writer should read Campbell’s book, Writing NonFiction (The Writer, Inc.,
1961). In the next chapter I’ll list other books you should have. But this is
certainly one of the important ones that you can probably master in a weekend.
Campbell is talking about reporting and not copy writing, but the structural
principles are the same. He savs that even in the most factual reporting,
no sentence can be effective if it contains only the facts alone. It must
also contain emotion, evaluation, impact—if those facts are to be given
meaning and importance to the reader. The same is true for every sentence
you write of copy. That sentence should contain not only promise . . . not
only image not only logic—but as much of all three as possible.

204

THE FINAL TOl’CIII>

Weave together your promise, vour logic, vonr emotion, vour image. Pack
vour sentences full of every one of them. Make them blend into each other,
till its almost impossible to pull out the individual threads of the rich
pattern of conviction and desire vou’re weaving. For example, go back to
the fire injector ad in Chapter 12. and see how promise is interwoven
in e v e n sentence of the believabilitv copy where the injectors are
being contrasted with the old-fashioned plugs. In these two sentences,
for instance: “With ordinary spark plugs you are using, or should he using
premium gas (disadvantage) which costs from 4 to 8 cents more than ordinary
gas (disadvantage), and despite this (disadvantage you’re getting inefficient
(disadvantage), wasteful (disadvantage 1 gas consumption (disadvantage).”
Ill this first sentence, which is part of a logical sequence offered as
proof of superiority through comparison of performance characteristics,
the copv writer has managed to insert six disadvantage-images for the reader
to remember the next time he considers buying ordinary plugs. Now the copv
writer goes on to his contrasting sentence about the injectors: “Willi fire
injectors regular gas (promise) will give i/ou up to 8 miles more per gallon
(promise), up to 31 more horsepower (promise), plus easier starting (promise)
in all weather (promise).” Five promises in this second sentence. The
packing in of image upon image to build an overwhelming effect. Or, as an
even more complicated example, involving the interweaving of almost everv
copv element in the book, let’s look at this sentence: "And, most important,
(a mood-builder, indicating the value to the reader of the promises which are
about to follow) these experts (reference to authority to build believabilitv)
liave discovered (more believabilitv through the use of the scientific idiom)
that i/ou do not have to he a handyman (the core-promise 1

T H E FINAL T O U C H E S

2()o

or « mcc/wmr (restatement of the core-promise) in order to coax (promise
of ease) this performance (promise, condensing all the claims of superior
reception that have already been detailed in the previous copy) out of i/our
set." Now, is this done consciously 1 /Not at all. But the copy writer
knew the principle of i n t e r n e t in-r . . . |1U(I experimented with
it before . . . and had it stored axvax in Ins unconscious as one more tool
to be used—intuitiyely-to urain the effect he wanted, at the exact moment
he needed it. Try it yourself. See how mam different emotions you can pack
into a single sentence . . . paragraph . . . sequence. See how much richer
and more powerful xour cop\ becomes. How much more you can say in the same
space. H.m xou be-m to build reinforcement-multiplied i m p a c t – i n t
o more and more of your copy

S e n s i t i v i t y – H o w to Give Your Reader What He D e m a n d s Step
In Step Throughout the Copy Now; if you continue to pile promise upon promise,
identification upon identification, documentation upon documentation element
upon element, where do you stop, Where does it become too much? Where does
the reader become satiated or bored and want to go on to a new image or new
promise, or even the close? At what point are you starting to oversell? How do
uou catch yourself, and switch off? We have already touched on this problem
before in Chapter 11. I suggest that vou reread that discussion now. even
though we re going to expand on it at this point. Here you are reiving on
your own powers of empathy You must be, at the same time, not only the writer
of your ad but its reader. You must anticipate that point in the copy flow—
as it is transformed into a series of impressions in your readers m i n d
where he is going to sax-: “I’ve read enough about this. Give me this instead.”

206

T H E FINAL TOUCHED

And then vou must shift the direction of the copv to meet his new direction
of interest. In other words, what we are talking about now is the overall
structure of your ad. Not a sentence, or a paragraph, or a sequence: but
the architecture of the ad as a ichole. Every ad has an architecture,
as I’m sure YOU know. This is the over-all pattern of the ad, including
when and where and how mam- times you shift from one t \ p e of copy to
another. It is the ability to recognize these shift points, and to change
when YOU encounter them from—sa\-—promise copy to mechanism copy to
documentation copy to promise copy again, that makes vour ad stick together,
or fall apart. This is an almost impossible skill to communicate, since it
relies so much on the feel of each individual situation. However. I can show
it to YOU after it’s occurred, in a series of four ads on the same general
type of product—books—and how each differs from the others in the way
large blocks of copy elements are blended in and out of the oyer-all sell.
As IYe said before, I use mail order as m\ example because mail order is
the longest general form of copy, because it usually sells the hardest, and
because the techniques I’m talking about are usually outlined most clearly in
this type of copy. Let’s look at our four ads, and see how each approaches
the basic task of selling a similar product in a different way and with a
different blend of elements:

Sample Ad #1 This is the friend-winning ad we looked at in our last
chapter. IYe indicated each major block of copy, in sequence, by a letter
of the alphabet; and each of the shift points b\- a number. I am using
as examples all direct-promise headlines. The promise in this headline is
almost universal (A): that vou can make anybody like YOU. (See page 208.)
Instead of intensifying the promise immediately, however, as

T H E FINAL T O U C H E S

207

many other ads in this category have done, this copv starts out by restating
the original headline promise (making anybody like you becomes popularity)
and by defining the previously unrecognized fact that this popularity can
be taught. (B). Why was this done? For two reasons: (1) because this novel,
almost paradoxical redefinition iCan popularity be purchased?) established
an immediate point of difference between this book and the dozens of similar
titles that had come before it always a critical problem. And (2> because this
ad’s subject was a teacher, and the ad’s whole believabilitv rested upon the
fact that so many large and respected corporations had paid this man so much
money to reach these techniques to their employees. This is established by
the ads first shift point and first transitional sentence (1). This has hern
proved by . , . leads directlv into the first documentation block (.’•. in
which the corporations are named. Thus we have the developing pattern of the
ad as: Promise Definition Documentation . . . Right up to the next transition
sentence (2), which brings in the first detailed promise block iD). and which
then echoes again the documentation (E) and price comparison. Now, after
a brief transitional promise (F), the ad defines again the importance of the
over-all promise (G), backs it up with a third restatement of the documentation
(H), and then states directly the price comparison and monev-back guarantee
(I). Then, with the classic transition (3), it goes on to devote the rest of
the ad to a detailed cataloguing of the promise (f). A recitation of promises
that are far stronger now—because of the preparation of definition and
documentation that has been laid for them, than they would have ever been
had thev simply been put at the beginning of the ad without such preparation.

IO

1

The B o o k That Took Forty Y e a r s t o Write in the entire United States,
only one man teaches these techniques. His name is Paul P. Parker, L.L.D. He
has concentrated his entire lifetime in one fietd—discovering the best
methods of winning people over to your way of thinking, without anugomring
them. Or. Parker believes that that* methods are

How to Reach People Who Really Count

1

How to present your ideas to superiors in a way that automatically wins
acceptance. How to overcome favoritism. How to handle objections. Stop
people from saying no. Make it eaty for them to say y e s . How lo make a
compliment twice as elfec-

{

It I» estimated that Dr been paid over a million do the executives of such
out porations as National Cash Sears, Roebuck & Co., The & Pacific Tea Co.,
North Am tion, Inc., General Motors C Kodak Co., Crane Co.. DuPo tal Bakeries,
General Mills Co., Borden Dairies, CocaCo., StAndnrd Oil fA, Gor

210

T H E FINAL T O U C H E S

Incidentalh’, notice how the negative promises (K), and the full list
of documentation (L), have been placed out of the main stream of the ad
where they can be read, or not read, by those that are interested in them.
Sample Ad #2 An ad for a book on improving the power of vour mind. Again the
promise-headline (A), intensified by—this time—an elaboration of this
promise (B). (See page 212.) Now, using its first transitional sentence
(1), the ad moves into two paragraphs of negative © and positive (D)
redefinition. And then, with a single transition-word {Simph/—2), again
elaborates the promise, making it stronger and stronger and more and more
detailed, and at the same time giving it the believabilitvtone of definition.
This definition-tone is unchanged throughout (F), where promise is again
interwoven with fact, leading immediately into a transition (3) in which the
tone is that of proof, but the content is straight promise (G). Then this
proof is connected (4) with the entire promise catalog (H) which fills the
rest of the ad. This ad—enormously successful—is one of the best examples
of interweaving we have. There is so subtle a blending here of definition,
documentation and promise, that everv word of the copy soon takes on the aura
of pure fact. Sample Ad #3 Now we move on to the straight-promise ad. This
is the rock-em, sock-em type, dominated by promise and mechanismpromise,
which gains its power from the sheer momentum and relentlessness of its
claims. (See page 216.) It again starts with the over-all promise (A),
which it immediately follows up with a second, elaborating promise (B).

T H E FINAL T O U C H E S

211

Then it moves directly into its fundamental definition ©, which it
equates in a’ single phrase (then t/oti could—I) with a greatly detailed
promise (D), and then follows up with a beautifully condensed paragraph
which consists of a transition in (2) to a restatement of its fundamental
redefinition (E). and out again (3) to the remainder of the ad. (F>. which
is sheer promise and promise-mechanism from then on. Here, documentation
is disregarded entirely. The full weight of the sale depends on the power
and momentum of the promisetrain.

Sample Ad #4 And finally, we have a beauty book. Here, the main promiseheadline
(B) is preceded by the critical authority-reference (A) which: first, sets it
apart from the other similar products it must erase from the prospects mind:
and second, brings in immediately the key persuader of its author. (See
page 220.) © block, while promise copy, also serves the simultaneous
purpose of being a momentum-builder—a technique we will discuss in a moment.
Using the different type faces and sizes as transitional elements, the copy
then introduces its crucial concentration copy (D), in which it redefines
what the woman can now expect from her appearance, and in which it outdates
other approaches to giving this fulfillment to her. After

block.

(1)

Because… comes

the

first

promise-elaboration

But there is no piling up of claim upon claim here. There is too much ingrained
skepticism in this prospect—too much awareness of other, previous claims
that have disappointed her in the past. This skepticism must be anticipated,
and answered. This is done, first (F) by agreeing with it, and then (G)
bv shifting the entire story onto the doctor for twelve paragraphs—bv far
the longest reference to authority of any of our four sample ads.

213

214

T H E FINAL T O U C H E S

Then a transition (2) back to promise (H), which fills out the rest of the ad.

See How the Structure Differs Let me say this. Although I have not
pointed out everv transition, nor everv blending of different tvpes of
copv, I have, 1 hope, given you enough material to see clearlv how ads
differ in overall structure, as they differ in content, as the demands of
their material differ. They range from the simplest promise-elaboration
(example 3), to the most subtle blending of all the various elements of
desire, image, proof, definition and what have vou (example 2), to the
most complicated promise-and-proof. . . promise-and-proof reinforcement
(example 4). Each problem demands a different structure. Each signals.
as you write it, that here—at this precise point—your copy has left
your reader. You have gone on straight when lie wants to turn left. You are
piling on promise after promise, when lie no longer believes you. You are
burving him under a sea of statistics, when he is convinced you are telling
the truth, and wants you to make those delicious promises all over again.
This is what you feel when you are writing the ad. Probablv a kind of
irritating confusion. A blockage. A sense that the copv has suddenly
gone dead, and all you are writing now is words. So you stop, and think,
and look for a new direction. I hope. in this section, that I have given
you a faint indication of what some of these directions might be. What,
on the other hand, can vou learn from analvzing the structure of your ads
(or other writers’) after vou have finished them? Primarily—what kind
of ad you have written. Is it straight promise? Too much documentation? Too
little definition of the new world of possibilities vour product has created?
Does it still sound too much like evervone else’s copv. Or

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product? Could you put another brand-name on it, and not make any difference?
Have you left anything out? Will this bare promise earrv the sale? Or could
you increase its impact bv paving its wav with some mechanism or believabilitv
copv? How about a proof section? A use photo? A fuller description of the
wav it works? Mind you, this is not content alone that ice are discussing.
If you take the same content, and give it a new structure, you are going to
create a new ad. Trv it. See for yourself. If vou’re stuck sometime, throw
awav vour headline, throw awav vour rough copy flow, and start off again ISO
degrees away from where you started before. I want to repeat this again:
A new structure is a new ad. It brings out new ideas. Gives vour promises
new sharpness, new flavor, new believabilitv and even begins to create
whole new sections that you never dreamed were there in the product before.
So we’ve come full circle. You start vour ad bv creating your headline. You
develop your copv storv from that headline. But if the copv story doesn’t
develop—if vou gradually find that the headline isn’t really that good
after all—then perhaps the very elements that are begging to come out
of your 6-point type should be at the top of your ad. This is what makes
this copv writing so interesting. You’re always being surprised—with ideas
from the most ungodly places. Just make sure you’ve got vour eves open wide
enough to catch all of them. Momentum—How to Draw Your Reader Deeper and
Deeper Into Your Copy There are two other devices we should discuss. Both of
them help tie your ad together, though that’s not their primary function.
The first is Momentum. How to draw your reader into vour copy . . . keep
him reading . . . making sure he doesn’t quit vou in the middle.

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Copy’s first job, of course, is to be read. If its not read, it can’t sell. And
if you take some time to make your points—to intensify your desire, to build
and rebuild vour believability, to reinforce one claim with another—then
you’d better make darn sure that you’ve put plentv of momentum-builders into
vour copv There are two types: 1. Actual momentum phrases; and 2. Incomplete
statements, or teasers, that draw the reader further into the copy in order
to complete them. The first type, the momentum-phrases, are time-honored.
They are used in almost any sort of persuasive or educational writing. You
insert them in your copy primarily in your transitionsentences, to keep
interest from flagging, to indicate to vour reader the general type of
material that’s going to follow. They are “addy,” but they work. Here are a
few examples, taken from the four book ads we looked at in the last section:
“They paid up to $22.50 a person to learn priceless techniques like these:”
“You can learn them all, in your own home next weekend, without risking a
penny. Here’s how” “Here is the information you will find in this hook.”
“Let me explain.” “All I ask from you is this.” “What you are going to do,
in the very first hour that you receive the book, is this.” “And yet it’s
only the beginning.” “THEN put this simple trick to work for uou—that
VERY SAME HOUR” “For example—” “Read the thrilling answer below.” “. •
. to start with . . .” “Just wait till you try this.”

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And so on. These are actual invitations to read on. H YOU write long copv, thev
should be spotted throughout it. The second category of momentum-builder is
much more subtle, and giyes YOU thousands of waYs to keep drawing vour reader
along after vour developing thought. It’s based on the simple principle that
if YOU make a statement that interests vour reader, and if vou purposelv
and skillinllv do not complete that statement, so that there is a question
of how it can be done, then he will read on to find out more. In other
words, YOU are continuallv throughout the copv: 1. Creating interest in
a specific point; 2. Raising a question in his mind about that point; and
3. Implying an answer to that question later in the copv. Here are some
examples of this technique: “And YOU will do it often using nothing more
than ordinarv tap water, vour own ten fingers, and the contents of vour
garden and vour refrigerator.” “But now. when vou turn on the ignition,
a modem miracle of engineering science comes to life underneath your hood!”
“Yes! Here at last is the Engineering Miracle vou Ye been hearing rumors about
for months. The fantastic PowerBooster that Continental millionaires use to
soup up the performance of .812,000 cars! The revolutionarv new GasSaver
that actuallv gives compact-car economv to Fords. Chevrolets, Plvmoutbs
and dozens of other American cars now driving in Europe! The sixtv-second
attachment that HAD TO BE BANNED from the great European raceways—because
it gave so much added power, so much added efficiency to any car that used
it—that the officials were forced to rule that it gave these cars an UNFAIR
ADVANTAGE over those drivers who couldn’t obtain it!” “How to Grow Thousands
of Flowers—Without Dirtying Your Hands.” "Here it is at last. Authoritative
medical proof that men in their forties and fifties and sixties can enjov a sex

220

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life in many ways as satisfying as when thev were in their twenties—if they
are only shown how to combat the hidden forces within their minds and bodies
that literally drive them into impotent" “Caught! 120 Fish in One Hour!”
“Just picture the scene as these college horticulturists began this amazing
flowering test of roses. For here gathered in a test field were all the
highly-prized queens of rosedom . . . rose blends that today sell for as high
as 83.75 for a single plant. Row upon row of roses . . . prize-winners in
international competition . . . the best the world has to offer . . . AND THEN,
NEARLY-WILD STARTED TO BLOOM!” And so on. The objective here is to keep lite
reader going— for one more sentence, one more paragraph, one more sequence.
Notice, of course, that every one of these examples not only produces momentum,
not only raises questions in the reader’s mind that he virtually must read on
to answer—but is also, at exactly the same time, loaded with sell. Again,
interweaving—making each element in the ad accomplish two objectives. No
waste words.

M o o d — H o w to Pack Your Copy With Drama, Excitement, Sincerity or Any
Other Emotion You Wish Now we come to the matter of words—and the color
which words create. I have given you dozens of different examples in this
book of selling copy. All these examples had certain elements in common—they
were strong, successful, convincing and so on. But, at the same time, each
of these copy blocks differed from the others in one immediately apparent
way—in the mood that each set, simply by the rhythm and words that the
copy writer used to express his thoughts. Words and rhythms. They are to
the copy writer what line

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and color are to the painter. They set the mood of your story— carry the
emotion so subtly that vour reader never really realizes where the excitement
or the image or the conviction is actually coming from. For example, here
are several of the passages we’ve looked at before. Now let’s italicize the
mood-builders within them, that make each so different from the others:
Objective: to emphasize color, beauty, excitement, visual image: And
when that third precious ingredient reaches those buds—then that very
morning vou will open the door to vour house—AND YOU WILL BE BLINDED BY
THE EXPLOSION OF COLOR THAT GREETS YOU IN YOUR GARDEN! . . . You will see
rose bushes weighted down bymasses of blossoms, of a richness and perfume and
color you have never imagined before! You will walk past solid, blazing rows
of chrysanthemums so thick that you can’t even see a leaf in between. . . .
Notice that you don’t even distinguish many of the separate images until they
are called to vour attention. Notice also that some of the words are primarily
visual image-sharpeners (weighted down . . . solid, blazing rows . . . so
thick you can’t even see a leaf in between). While others convey, not image,
but emotion (precious . . . that very morning . . . blinded . . . greets
. . . you never imagined before). These words are emotion-definers. They
tell the reader what to feel about the images and ideas you are presenting
to him. Their very essence is that they are so subtle that he does not see
them . . . that thev do not call attention to themselves, but simply flavor
and evaluate the images your copy is forming in his mind. Certain classes of
readers will notice these emotion definers. When they do, your copy becomes
either questionable or corny to them, and vou have lost them. Therefore,
vou have to know always whom you are writing for. What their level of
sophistication is—in tone as well as product-awareness. And vou may have to

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change your tone when you take the same ad from one class of media to
another—down as well as up. Of course, when everybody sees vour emotion
words, then you’ve got a bad ad, and you’d better rewrite, fast. And don’t
forget the rhythms. Read the ad out loud. See how you can almost scan it,
as though it were close to blankverse. This richness of rhythm parallels
the richness of image— helps build the excitement and sensuousness
of the mood. Now let’s look at another piece of pounding copv, and see
how words and rhvthms add to the power and momentum that are put behind
its staccato stream of claims: "This letter says that if you could onlv
liberate the exact same talent and intelligence and abilitv that vou have
tied up inside you today—then you could: "read anything you wish, twice
as fast as vou can read it t o d a y . . . " "absorb facts like a sponge,
and repeat them almost word for word years later . . . "flash through
math, business, financial problems that have you stopped cold todav. . .
“hold people spellbound with the power of vour speech and your written word
. . . “out-think others when you have to. tower over them in judgement,
outshine them completely in imagination . . .” Here again, there are two
types of emotion-definers. The power words (liberate . . . hold spellbound
. . . out-think . . . tower over . . . outshine completely), which build a
subconscious current of potency that permeates each individual claim as it
occurs in the copy. And the frankness, man-to-man, lets-let-our-hair-down
tone-builders (this letter says . . . tied up inside vou . . . like a sponge
. . . stopped cold) that say silently that there’s no nonsense here, no
high-faluting phrases—just common-sense which can be absorbed bv anvone.
And, of course, the machine-gun rhvthm. Short, choppy sentences. Verb
. . . verb . . . verb. Claim . . . claim . . . claim. Pro-

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225

pelling the reader through the copy. Piling promise upon promise, image upon
image in an attempt to overwhelm him. Notice especially the vast difference
between these two highly-successful pieces of copy. Their vocabulary, the type
of emotions they strive to arouse, the images they use, the models of speech
they borrow, the length of sentence and paragraph, the ratio of adjectives to
nouns and verbs, etc. We could go on, of course. Go back to the Volkswagen
copy, and see how the emotional tone of sincerity is conveyed by the absence
of adjectives, in all the places you’d ordinarily expect to find them. As
well as whimsey. a continuous self-kidding, which builds, first, a sort of
corporate affection, and then trust. Try the fire injector ad again. Notice
how the long, rather clumsv sentences give a feeling of ingenuousness and
reason to the copy Try to read them out loud. You can’t. They don’t scan;
they have no definable rlrythm: they don’t look like a “copy writer” wrote
them at all. And, of course, there is the same straightfrom-the-shoulder
phraseology, to reinforce this feeling of honest appraisal. All this,
I repeat, is done unconsciously. You do not see it unless vou look for
it. And sometimes you have to dig very deep indeed to get every piece of it.
Mood-building is deliberate on the part of the copywriter— unnoticed on the
part of his reader. As with so much of the rest of the ad, it lies underneath
the surface, to do its work imperceptibly.

EPILOGUE A COPY WRITER’S LIBRARY

I have now given you what I’ve learned about writing copy. It has taken many
years to learn it— three more to set it down to my own satisfaction. I
hope it will help vou in the onlv way that really counts: to do a better
job and make a little more money. There are, of course, manv many men in
this industry who know far more about these techniques, and who can produce
far better copy than I. Mv excuse for writing this book is that they don’t
seem to have included—at least to my present knowledge— manv of the
specific techniques which I’ve discussed with you here. Some of them’ have
written books on the subject—great books—and I’d like to list them here
for you. I think you should buy and read, every one of them, and then thumb
through them again everv year or so, just to catch what you may have forgotten.
Here they are: Indispensable, of course, is Julian Watkins’ great anthology:
The 100 Greatest Advertisements, Moore Publishing, 1949. 227

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E P I L O G U E —A COPY W R I T E R S LIBRARY

Claude Hopkins wrote a great book, My Life in Advertising, Harper,
1927. Make them dig it up for you. And see if vou can’t get some of the
old Hopkins ads. John E. Kennedy (not F.) wrote a little pamphlet manv
years ago called Intensive Advertising, which has just been republished
by Printer’s Ink. Get it. It’ll be the most profitable evening’s reading
you’ve ever done. J. K. Lasker, who worked with both these great writers,
never wrote anything himself. But he did give a series of talks before his
staff one week, and Printers Ink has again captured them. They’re called The
Lasker Story. Robert Collier’s Letter Book is published bv Prentice-Hall.
It’s a gold mine. David Ogilw wrote Confessions of an Advertising Man,
which you can buv as a paperback. Charming and wonderfully profitable.
Rosser Reeves’ very short book, Reality in Advertising, is published by Knopf,
and must be read several times before vou get everything out of it vou should.
Milton Biow’s book, Butting In, is marvelous in the first half, repetitive
in the second. And don’t forget Campbell’s book, Writing Non-Fiction. Or
those by Caples. Young, Glim and Bedell. Or the motivation research books
bv Dichter and Martineau. Or the great book on layout, Visual Persuasion,
bv Baker. Then there are the books on American society’ todav—bv Mills,
Riesman, Fromm, Kardiner and all the rest. And the articles on the emerging
trends in the media. And the media themselves. And of course—your primarv
source—the ads themselves. Keep reading. Keep analvzing. Keep writing. Keep
looking for the new idea—the million dollars hidden somewhere in that
typewriter of yours. Always shoot for the moon—it’s one of the few real
thrills left today!

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