For a long time, nothing that happened *before yesterday* was supposed to matter when it came to what works best in marketing and advertising. Then Google changed its algorithms. Having keywords wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all anymore. Selling in print was back. Now I read endless articles about how to write effective marketing and advertising by people who seem to think they’re discovering something new … or inventing it. They aren’t! The greats in advertising discovered these ideas and perfected them 50, 75, 100 years ago. And they still work! This blog is devoted to those amazing ad-men and ad-women and their timeless insights & techniques for using words to sell. Because no matter whether it’s on a handbill in 1900 or on a pop-up ad today, persuading using words is what all successful advertising and marketing is about. (Even videos have scripts!)
From ~ Bernice Fitz-Gibbon in Macy’s, Gimbels & Me, 1951
Why do I make such a point of the fact that little unimportant untruths in an ad hurt all advertising? Because when there is one slip or false quote, the whole thing collapses and becomes unbelievable. As when the little girl says, “Mommy is a genius. She buys me Yoo-hoo syrup.” If she stopped right there, I’d probably believe the stuff was delicious and might even buy a few bottles to worm my way into the affections of my grandniece. But when the little girl goes on to say, “Mommy buys me Yoo-hoo syrup – the chocolate energy drink that comes in no-deposit, no return bottles,” she has lost me forever.
If you know Avis is “No. 2,” so they try harder, you’re familiar with Bill Bernbach’s work and ad concepts that are still paying dividends decades after they were introduced. (Yes, it is possible!)
According to the Biographical Dictionary of Advertising, “Bill Bernbach changed the face of advertising in America.” So true!
As Advertising Age once wrote, “Bernbach’s creative philosophy is basic: Find the simple story in the product and present it in an articulate, intelligent, persuasive way. He knew an ad had to have energy if it is to make itself felt, if it is to perform the first function of any ad – to stop the reader.”
Bernbach recognized the importance of client opinion in the formulation of sales messages but “refused to pander to clients to the detriment of an ad’s message.” “The client isn’t God,” he said, “but at the same time one should respect him. He may be right.”
Bill Bernbach believed that advertising could move people. He believed “it is impossible to overestimate the intelligence of your audience.” He knew that honesty sells. And he proved over and over that capturing people’s imaginations makes it much easier to get their business.
The Take-Away: No matter how fashions change, studying the masters always pays dividends.