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Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

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ogilvy on advertising david ogilvy summary

Book Review:

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy is an advertising classic. This book was recommended to me by so many people and for good reason.  Ogilvy, known as the father of modern advertising and the founder of one of the biggest advertising agencies in the world, shares decades’ worth of advice ranging from how to produce advertising that works, how to get clients, how to run an advertising agency, and so much more.

Book Summary:

The following summary from Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy is meant to be concise, reminding me of high-level concepts and not trying to recreate the whole book. This summary is basically a bunch of notes and lessons paraphrased or quoted directly from the book and does not contain my own thoughts.

I have to mention that I found a lot of difficulty in summarizing this particular one as there are so many valuable gems. Ogilvy put everything he knows on advertising in this one book.


• I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.

• Consumers still buy products whose advertising promises them value for money, beauty, nutrition, relief from suffering, social status and so on. All over the world.

• Research shows that commercials with celebrities are below average in persuading people to buy products.

• Research suggests that if you set the copy in black type on a white background, more people will read it than if you set it in white type on a black background.

How to produce advertising that sells

• Most people believe that all advertising increases sales to some degree. This is a myth. The wrong advertising can actually reduce the sales of a product.

• You don’t stand a tinker’s chance of producing successful advertising unless you start by doing your homework.

• First, study the product you are going to advertise. The more you know about it, the more likely you are to come up with a big idea for selling it.

• Your next chore is to find out what kind of advertising your competitors have been doing for similar products, and with what success. This will give you your bearings.

• Now comes research among consumers. Find out how they think about your kind of product, what language they use when they discuss the subject, what attributes are important to them, and what promise would be most likely to make them buy your brand.

• Now consider how you want to ‘position’ your product. This curious verb is in great favor among marketing experts, but no two of them agree what it means. My own definition is ‘what the product does, and who it is for.’

• You now have to decide what ‘image’ you want for your brand. Image means personality.

• The personality of a product is an amalgam of many things – its name, its packaging, its price, the style of its advertising, and, above all, the nature of the product itself.

• Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the brand image. It follows that your advertising should consistently project the same image, year after year.

• It pays to give most products an image of quality – a First Class ticket. This is particularly true of products whose brand-name is visible to your friends, like beer, cigarettes, and automobiles: products you ‘wear.’ If your advertising looks cheap or shoddy, it will rub off on your product.

• You can do homework from now until doomsday, but you will never win fame and fortune unless you also invent big ideas. It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.

• Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret.

• No idea is big unless it will work for thirty years.

• It will help you recognize a big idea if you ask yourself five questions:

  1. Did it make me gasp when I first saw it?
  2. Do I wish I had thought of it myself?
  3. Is it unique?
  4. Does it fit the strategy to perfection?
  5. Could it be used for 30 years?

• Sometimes, the best idea of all is to show the product – with utter simplicity. This takes courage because you will be accused of not being ‘creative.’

• Whenever you can, make the product itself the hero of your advertising. If you think the product too dull, I have news for you: there are no dull products, only dull writers.

• I never assign a product to a writer unless I know that he is personally interested in it. Every time I have written a bad campaign, it has been because the product did not interest me.

• When faced with selling ‘parity’ products, all you can hope to do is explain their virtues more persuasively than your competitors, and to differentiate them by the style of your advertising.

• In the past, just about every advertiser has assumed that in order to sell his goods he has to convince consumers that his product is superior to his competitor’s. It may be sufficient to convince consumers that your product is positively good. If the consumer feels certain that your product is good and feels uncertain about your competitor’s, he will buy yours. Just say what’s good about your product – and do a clearer, more honest, more informative job of saying it.

• If you are lucky enough to write a good advertisement, repeat it until it stops selling. Scores of good advertisements have been discarded before they lost their potency.

• Millions are spent on testing individual commercials and advertisements, but next to nothing is done to analyze the results of those tests in search of plus and minus factors.

• Harold Sykes measured the readership of advertisements in newspapers. He reported that ‘editorial’ graphics were consistently high performers.

• Photographs with an element of ‘story appeal’ were far above average in attracting attention. This led me to put an eye-patch on the model in my advertisements for Hathaway shirts.

• Clients sometimes change agencies because one agency can buy circulation at a slightly lower cost than another. They don’t realize that a copywriter who knows his factors – the triggers which make people read advertisements – can reach many times more readers than a copywriter who doesn’t.

• It is remarkable how little the plus and minus factors have changed over the years. With very few exceptions, consumers continue to react to the same techniques in the same ways.

• For all their research, most advertisers never know for sure whether their advertisements sell. Too many other factors cloud the equation. But direct-response advertisers, who solicit orders by mail or telephone, know to a dollar how much each advertisement sells. So watch the kind of advertising they do.

• I am convinced that if all advertisers were to follow the example of their direct response brethren, they would get more sales per dollar. Every copywriter should start his career by spending two years in direct response.

• The Benton & Bowles agency holds that ‘if it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.’ Amen.

Jobs in advertising – and how to get them

• At the start of your career in advertising, what you learn is more important than what you earn.

• Copywriters may not be the most visible people in agencies, but they are the most important.

• The hallmarks of a potentially successful copywriter include: Obsessive curiosity about products, people, and advertising. A sense of humor. A habit of hard work. The ability to write interesting prose for printed media, and natural dialogue for television. The ability to think visually. Television commercials depend more on pictures than words. The ambition to write better campaigns than anyone has ever written before.

• Most good copywriters fall into two categories: poets and killers. Poets see an ad as an end. Killers as a means to an end. If you are both killer and poet, you get rich.

• The chief role of account executives is to extract the best possible work from the other departments of the agency. They are in daily touch with clients.

• If you want to start your career as an account executive, I repeat the advice I offered in my Confessions. Set yourself to becoming the best-informed person in the agency on the account to which you are assigned. If, for example, it is a gasoline account, read books on oil geology and the production of petroleum products. Read the trade journals in the field. Spend Saturday mornings in service stations, talking to motorists. Visit your client’s refineries and research laboratories. At the end of your first year, you will know more about the oil business than your boss, and be ready to succeed him.

• You will never become a successful account executive unless you learn to make good presentations. Most of your clients will be corporations, and you must be able to sell campaigns to their committees.

• Do not make the common mistake of regarding your clients as dopes. Make friends with them. Buy shares in their companies. But try not to become entangled in their politics.

• Always tell your client what you would do if you were in his shoes, but don’t grudge him the prerogative of deciding what advertising to run. It is his product, his money, and ultimately his responsibility.

• In your day-to-day dealings with clients and colleagues, fight for the kings, queens, and bishops, but throw away the pawns. A habit of graceful surrender on trivial issues will make you difficult to resist when you stand and fight on a major issue.

• Don’t discuss your clients’ business in public places. Keep their secrets under lock and key. A reputation for leaking can ruin you.

• Learn to write lucid memoranda. The senior people to whom they are addressed have more homework than you do. The longer and more turgid your memos, the less likely they are to be read by executives who have the power to act on them.

• To get a job in the Research Department of a good agency, you probably need a degree in statistics or psychology. You also need an analytical mind, and the ability to write readable reports. You must also be able to work sympathetically with creative people, most of whom are stubbornly allergic to research. Above all, you must be intellectually honest. A researcher who injects bias into his reports does awful damage.

• I have never worked in the media department of an agency, but observation of those who have been successful in this field leads me to think that they need an analytical mind, the ability to communicate numerical data in non-numerical formats, stability under pressure, and a taste for negotiation with the owners of media.

• The most difficult job in an agency is Chief Executive Officer. He or she must be a good leader of frightened people. She must have financial acumen, administrative skill, thrust, and the courage to fire non-performers. He must be a good salesman because he is responsible for bringing in new clients. He must be resilient in adversity. Above all, he must have the physical stamina to work 12 hours a day, dine out several times a week, and spend half his time in airplanes.

How to run an advertising agency

• Running an agency requires midnight oil, salesmanship of the highest order, a deep keel, guts, thrust, and a genius for sustaining the morale of men and women who work in a continuous state of anxiety.

• Make it fun to work in your agency. When people aren’t having any fun, they don’t produce good advertising. Kill grimness with laughter. Encourage exuberance. Get rid of sad dogs who spread gloom.

• Agencies are breeding-grounds for sibling rivalry. Giving out the titles reminds me of Louis XIV: ‘Every time I give someone a title, I make a hundred people angry and one person ungrateful.’ What can you do to keep sibling rivalry under control? You can be fair, and you can avoid playing favorites.

• In most agencies, there are twice as many account executives as copywriters.

• Success in running an agency depends on your ability to hire men and women of exceptional talent, to train them thoroughly, and to make the most of their talents.

• The most difficult people to find are those who have the capacity to become good copywriters. I have found that they always have well-furnished minds. They give evidence of exceptional curiosity about every subject under the sun. They have an above-average sense of humor. And they have a fanatical interest in the craft of advertising.

• It is a tragedy of the advertising business that its best practitioners are always promoted into management.

• Never hire your friends. I have made this mistake three times and had to fire all three. They are no longer my friends.

• Never hire your client’s children. If you have to fire them, you may lose the client.

• Never hire your own children or the children of your partners. However able they may be, ambitious people won’t stay in outfits which practice nepotism.

• Think twice before hiring people who have been successful in other fields. I have hired a magazine editor, a lawyer, and an economist. None of them developed an interest in advertising.

• Never hire your clients. The qualities which make someone a good client are not the qualities required for success in the agency business.

• The hothouse atmosphere in agencies can cause outbreaks of psychological warfare to rival university faculties. I know of seven ways to squelch them:

  1. Fire the worst of the politicians. You can identify them by how often they send you blind copies of their poison-pen memos to their rivals.
  2. When somebody comes to your office and denounces his rival as an incompetent rascal, summon the rival and make the denouncer repeat what he has just told you.
  3. Crusade against paper warfare. Make your people settle their fights face to face.
  4. Start a luncheon club within the agency. It turns enemies into friends.
  5. Discourage poaching.
  6. Don’t play favorites.
  7. Don’t play politics. If you practice the fiendish art of divide et impera, your agency will go up in smoke.

• Insist that your people arrive on time, even if you have to pay them a bonus to do so. Insist that telephones are answered promptly.

• Be eternally vigilant about the security of your clients’ secrets.

• Sustain unremitting pressure on the professional standards of your staff. It is suicide to settle for second-rate performance. Above all, insist that due dates are kept, even if it means working all night and over the weekend.

• It is a good idea to start the year by writing down exactly what you want to accomplish and end the year by measuring how much you have accomplished.

• It does an agency no good when its leader never shares his leadership functions with his lieutenants. The more centers of leadership you create, the stronger your agency will become.

• Marvin Bower, who made McKinsey what it is today, believes that every company should have a written set of principles and purposes.

• Any service business which gave higher priority to profits than to serving its clients deserved to fail.

• The average profit in agencies is less than 1 % after taxes. If you chisel on service, you can make more than that, but your clients will leave you. If your service is too generous, your clients will love you, but you will go broke.

• Size and profit are not the same thing. In 1981, Ogilvy & Mather made more profit than an agency which bills twice as much.

• Agencies add new services the way universities add new courses. Nothing wrong with that if you also discontinue services which have outlived their relevance.

• You will have to choose between the traditional commission system and the newer system of fees. The fee system has four advantages:

  1. The advertiser pays for the services he wants – no more, no less.
  2. Every fee account pays its own way. Unprofitable accounts do not ride on the coat-tails of profitable accounts, which is the case with the commission system.
  3. Temporary cuts in clients’ budgets do not oblige you to cut staff.
  4. When you advise a client to increase his advertising, he does not suspect your motive.

• Five tips:

  1. Never allow two people to do a job which one could do.
  2. Never summon people to your office; it frightens them. Instead, go to see them in their offices, unannounced.
  3. If you want to get action, communicate verbally. If you want the voting to go your way at meetings, go to the meeting.
  4. It is bad manners to use products which compete with your clients’ products.
  5. Never allow yourself the luxury of writing letters of complaint.

How to get clients

• The easiest way to get new clients is to do good advertising.

• During one period of seven years, we never failed to win an account for which we competed, and all I did was to show the campaigns we had created. Sometimes, I did not even have to do that.

• At the meeting when you make your presentation, don’t sit the client’s team on one side of the table and your team opposite, like adversaries. Mix everybody up.

• Rehearse before the meeting, but never speak from a prepared text; it locks you into a position which may become irrelevant during the meeting.

• Above all, listen. The more you get the prospective client to talk, the easier it will be to decide whether you really want his account.

• Tell your prospective client what your weak points are before he notices them. This will make you more credible when you boast about your strong points.

• Don’t get bogged down in case histories or research numbers. They put prospects to sleep. No manufacturer ever hired an agency because it increased market-share for somebody else.

• The day after a new business presentation, send the prospect a three-page letter summarizing the reasons why he should pick your agency. This will help him make the right decision.

• If you are too feeble to get accounts under your own steam, you can buy them – by buying agencies.

• Watch out for credit risks. Your profit margin is too slim to survive a prospective client’s bankruptcy.

• Never pay a commission to an outsider who offers to introduce new business.

• Avoid clients whose ethos is incompatible with yours.

• Beware of ventures which spend little or nothing today but might become major advertisers, if all goes well.

• The differences between agencies are less than they like to believe. Very often, the decisive difference in new business contests is the personality of the head of the agency.

• I have resigned accounts five times as often as I have been fired, and always for the same reason: the client’s behavior was eroding the morale of the people working on his account. Erosion of morale does unacceptable damage to an agency.

• If you get an account which also advertises in overseas markets, you stand a good chance of getting it around the world. I call this the domino system of new business acquisition.

• When you are head of an agency, you know that your staff looks to you to bring in new business, more than anything else. If you fail to do so over an extended period, you sense that you are losing their confidence, and are tempted to grab any account you can get. Don’t. Above all, don’t join the melancholy procession of agencies which always accompanies a dying brand on its way to the cemetery.

• It is important to know how your agency is regarded in the marketing community. Don’t trust your own ears; you will only hear favorable opinions. It is safer if you can afford it, to have a research organization conduct an impartial survey.

• If you aspire to build a portfolio of accounts in a wide variety of industries, you must be able to produce different kinds of advertising. It follows that you should recruit people with a wide range of talents. An agency should be like an orchestra, able to play anything from Palestrina to Jean-Michel Jarre with equal virtuosity.

• It is very difficult for small agencies to get big accounts. They cannot afford the range of specialized departments which big accounts require – regional offices, research, sales promotion, direct mail, public relations, and so on. The other side of the coin is that the bigger an agency grows, the more bureaucratic it becomes.

• It puzzles me why so few agencies advertise themselves. Direct mail is probably the most efficient medium for your house campaign. If you can scrape up the money, use space advertising as well, but don’t start it unless you mean to do it consistently.

An open letter to a client in search of an agency

• If you have decided to hire a new agency, permit me to suggest a simple way to go about it:

  • Don’t delegate the selection to a committee of pettifoggers.
  • Start by leafing through some magazines. Tear out the advertisements you envy, and find out which agencies did them.
  • Watch television for three evenings, make a list of the commercials you envy and find out which agencies did them.
  • You now have a list of agencies. Find out which are working for your competitors, and thus unavailable to you. By this time you have a short list.
  • Meet the head of each agency and his Creative Director. Make sure the chemistry between you and them is good. But don’t ask to meet the working-level people who would be assigned to your account. You might find them congenial, but have no way of judging their talent. Or you might find them repulsive – some of the most talented people are.
  • Ask to see each agency’s six best print ads and six best television commercials.
  • Pick the agency whose campaigns interest you the most.
  • Ask what the agency charges. If it is 15 %, insist on paying 16 %. The extra one % won’t kill you, but it will double the agency’s normal profit, and you will get better service.
  • Insist on a five-year contract. This will delight the agency – and protect you from being resigned if one of your competitors ever tries to seduce them with a bigger budget.
  • Once a year give your agency a formal report on its performance. This will serve as an early warning of trouble which, if ignored, could end badly for all concerned.

• One of the biggest corporations in the world allows five levels to chew up its advertising. Each level has the power to veto, but only the Chief Executive Officer has the power of final approval. Don’t strain your agency’s output through more than two levels. Even the best copywriters are preternaturally thin-skinned. When you have to reject their work, do it gently, and praise them to the skies when they perform well.

• If your account is too small to interest a good agency, find an experienced copywriter who has retired and pay him to do your advertising. He will enjoy getting back into harness and welcome the money.

Wanted: a renaissance in print advertising

• On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 % of your money.

• The headlines which work best are those which promise the reader a benefit – like a whiter wash, more miles per gallon, freedom from pimples, fewer cavities.

• Headlines which contain news are sure-fire. On the average, ads with news are recalled by 22 % more people than ads without news. If you are lucky enough to have some news to tell, don’t bury it in your body copy, which nine out of ten people will not read. State it loud and clear in your headline. And don’t scorn tried-and-true words like amazing, introducing, now, suddenly.

• Headlines that offer the reader helpful information, like HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE, attract above-average readership.

• When you advertise in local newspapers, you get better results if you include the name of each city in your headline. People are mostly interested in what is happening where they live.

• I advise you to include the brand name in your headline. If you don’t, 80 % of readers (who don’t read your body copy) will never know what product you are advertising.

• If you are advertising a kind of product which is only bought by a small group of people, put a word in your headline which will flag them down, like asthma, bedwetters, women over thirty-five.

• On the average, long headlines sell more merchandise than short ones.

• Specifics work better than generalities. When research reported that the average shopper thought Sears Roebuck made a profit of 37 % on sales, I headlined an advertisement Sears makes a profit of 5 %’. This specific was more persuasive than saying that Sears’ profit was ‘less than you might suppose’ or something equally vague.

• When you put your headline in quotes, you increase recall by an average of 28 %.

• Some copywriters write tricky headlines – double meanings, puns and other obscurities. This is counter-productive. In the average newspaper, your headline has to compete with 350 others. Readers travel fast through this jungle.

• Some headlines are ‘blind.’ They don’t say what the product is, or what it will do for you. They are about 20 % below average in recall.

• Since headlines, more than anything else, decide the success or failure of an advertisement, the silliest thing of all is to run an ad without any headline at all – ‘a headless wonder’.

• My favorite headlines For lanolin as a cure for baldness: Have you ever seen a bald-headed sheep? For a pile remedy: Send us your dollar and we’ll cure your piles, or keep your dollar and keep your piles.

• A picture, they say, can be worth a thousand words. The cowboy photographs for Marlboro, and Elliott Erwitt’s photographs in the ads for Puerto Rico and France are examples.

• Here are 15 ways to make your illustrations work for their living:

  1. The subject of your illustration is all important. If you don’t have a remarkable idea for it, not even a great photographer can save you.
  2. The photographs which work hardest are those which arouse the reader’s curiosity.
  3. When you don’t have a story to tell, it is often a good thing to make your package the subject of your illustration.
  4. It pays to illustrate the end-result of using your product.
  5. When I arrived on Madison Avenue, most advertisements were illustrated with drawings. Then it was found that photographs attracted more readers, were more believable, and better remembered.
  6. The use of characters known to people who see your television commercials boosts the recall of your print advertisements.
  7. Keep your illustrations as simple as possible, with the focus of interest on one person. Crowd scenes don’t pull.
  8. Don’t show human faces enlarged bigger than life size. They seem to repel readers.
  9. Historical subjects bore the majority of readers.
  10. Do not assume that subjects which interest you will necessarily interest consumers.
  11. My brother Francis once asked a Cockney editor of the Daily Mirror (London) what kind of photographs most interested his readers. He answered, ‘Babies with an ’eart-throb, animals with an ’eart-throb, and what you might call sex.’
  12. When I worked for Dr. Gallup, I noticed that moviegoers were more interested in actors of their own sex than actors of the opposite sex. People want to see movie stars with whom they can identify. The same force is at work in advertisements. When you use a photograph of a woman, men ignore your advertisement.
  13. Advertisements in four colors cost 50 % more than black-and-white, but, on the average, they are 100 % more memorable.
  14. I cannot resist the temptation to quote a verse which gives valuable advice on illustration: When the client moans and sighs, Make his logo twice the size. If he still should prove refractory Show a picture of his factory. Only in the gravest cases should you show the clients’ faces.
  15. When you advertise products for use in cooking, you attract more readers if you show a photograph of the finished dish than the ingredients.

• ‘Nobody reads body copy.’ True or false? It depends on two things. First, on how many people are interested in the kind of product you are advertising. Second, on how many people have been enticed into your ad by your illustration and headline.

• When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing each of them a letter on behalf of your client. One human being to another, second person singular.

• You cannot bore people into buying your product. You can only interest them in buying it.

• It pays to write short sentences and short paragraphs and to avoid difficult words.

• Copy should be written in the language people use in everyday conversation.

• Don’t write essays. Tell your reader what your product will do for him or her, and tell it with specifics.

• Write your copy in the form of a story, as in the advertisement which carried the headline, ‘The amazing story of a Zippo that worked after being taken from the belly of a fish.

• I advise you to avoid analogies. Gallup has found that they are widely misunderstood.

• Stay away from superlatives like ‘Our product is the best in the world.’ Gallup calls this Brag and Boast. It convinces nobody.

• If you include a testimonial in your copy, you make it more credible. Readers find the endorsements of fellow consumers more persuasive than the puffery of anonymous copywriters.

• Sometimes you can cast your entire advertisement in the form of a testimonial.

• Testimonials from celebrities get high recall scores, but I have stopped using them because readers remember the celebrity and forget the product. What’s more, they assume that the celebrity has been bought, which is usually the case. On the other hand, testimonials from experts can be persuasive – like having an ex-burglar testify that he had never been able to crack a Chubb safe.

• Most copywriters believe that markdowns and special offers are boring, but consumers don’t think so. They are above average in recall.

• Always try to include the price of your products. When the price of the product is left out, people have a way of turning the page.

• I believe that all copy should be signed by the agency. This is never done in the United States, on the ground that manufacturers buy space to advertise their products, not their agencies. Short-sighted. My experience suggests that when agencies sign their ads, they produce better ones.

• All my experience says that for a great many products, long copy sells more than short.

• I believe, without any research to support me, that advertisements with long copy convey the impression that you have something important to say, whether people read the copy or not.

• An advertisement’s chance for success invariably increases as the number of pertinent merchandise facts included in the advertisement increases.

• I must warn you that if you want your long copy to be read, you had better write it well. In particular, your first paragraph should be a grabber.

• It is no bad thing to learn the craft of advertising by copying your elders and betters.

• Readers look first at the illustration, then at the headline, then at the copy. So put these elements in that order – illustration at the top, headline under the illustration, copy under the headline.

• More people read the captions under illustrations than read the ’body copy, so never use an illustration without putting a caption under it. Your caption should include the brand name and the promise.

• Advertising people have an unconscious belief that advertisements have to look like advertisements. They have inherited graphic conventions which telegraph to the reader, ‘This is only an advertisement. Skip it.’

• There is no law which says that advertisements have to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract more readers. Roughly six times as many people read the average article as the average advertisement.

• Are two-page spreads worth the cost? They cost twice as much as single pages, but seldom get twice the readership, or pull twice as many coupons.

• It pays to make your poster what Savignac called a ‘visual scandal.’ But don’t overdo the scandal or you will stop the traffic and cause fatal accidents.

• Your poster should deliver your selling promise not only in words but also pictorially. Use the largest possible type. Make your brand name visible at a long distance. Use strong, pure colors. Never use more than three elements in your design.

• If it falls to you to produce advertisements for the subway, it may help to know that the average rider in the New York subway will be exposed to your advertisement for 21 minutes, which is long enough to read quite a long message. Only 15 % of passengers carry anything to read. The other 85 % have nothing to do but read your copy.

• In olden days, before people could read, manufacturers used trademarks to identify their brands. If you saw a tiger on a bottle of beer, you knew it was Tiger beer. Many companies, unaware that consumers are no longer illiterate, still use graphic symbols to identify their brands and insist on them being displayed in their advertisements. They add to the gadgetry which clutters up layouts, and proclaim ‘this is only an advertisement’. Readership of the advertisement is reduced.

• Good typography helps people read your copy, while bad typography prevents them doing so.

• Advertising agencies usually set their headlines in capital letters. This is a mistake. Professor Tinker of Stanford has established that capitals retard reading. They have no ascenders or descenders to help you recognize words and tend to be read letter by letter.

• The eye is a creature of habit. People are accustomed to reading books, magazines, and newspapers in lower case.

• Another way to make headlines hard to read is to superimpose them on your illustration.

• Another mistake is to put a period at the end of headlines. Periods are also called full stops because they stop the reader dead in his tracks. You will find no full stops at the end of headlines in newspapers.

• Serifs exist for a purpose. They help the eye pick up the shape of the letter. Piquant in little amounts, sanserif in page-size sheets repels readership as wax paper repels water; it has a sleazy, cloudy look.

• If you have to set very long copy, there are some typographical devices which increase its readership:

  1. A subhead of two lines, between your headline and your body copy, heightens the reader’s appetite for the feast to come.
  2. If you start your body copy with a drop-initial, you increase readership by an average of 13 %.
  3. Limit your opening paragraph to a maximum of 11 words.
  4. After two or three inches of copy, insert a cross-head, and thereafter throughout. Cross-heads keep the reader marching forward. Make some of them interrogative, to excite curiosity in the next run of copy.
  5. When I was a boy, it was common practice to square up paragraphs. It is now known that widows – short lines – increase readership.
  6. Set key paragraphs in boldface or italic.
  7. Help the reader into your paragraphs with arrowheads, bullets, asterisks and marginal marks.
  8. If you have a lot of unrelated facts to recite, don’t use cumbersome connectives. Simply number them – as I am doing here.
  9. What size type should you use? 11-point is about right.
  10. If you use leading (line-spacing) between paragraphs, you increase readership by an average of 12 %.

How to make TV commercials that sell

• I will start by telling you about ten kinds of commercials which are found to be above average in their ability to change people’s brand preference and three kinds which are below average.

Above average
  1. Humor.
  2. Slice of life. In these commercials, one actor argues with another about the merits of a product, in a setting which roughly approximates real life.
  3. Testimonials.
  4. Demonstrations which show how well your product performs are above average in their ability to persuade.
  5. Problem solution. This technique is an old as television. You show the viewer a problem with which he or she is familiar, and then show how your product can solve it.
  6. Talking heads. This is the derisive name given to commercials which consist of a pitchman extolling the virtues of a product.
  7. Characters. In some commercials, a ‘character’ is used to sell your product over a period of years. Provided they are relevant to your product, characters are above average in their ability to change brand-preference.
  8. Reason why. Commercials which give the viewer a rational reason why they should buy your product are slightly above average.
  9. News. Commercials which contain news are above average. Products, like human beings, attract most attention when they are first born. For an old product, you can create news by advertising a new way to use it, like using baking soda to keep refrigerators smelling sweet.
  10. Emotion. Researchers have not yet found a way to quantify the effectiveness of emotion, but I have come to believe that commercials with a large content of nostalgia, charm and even sentimentality can be enormously effective.
Below average
  1. Testimonials by celebrities.
  2. Cartoons can sell things to children, but they are below average in selling to grown-ups.
  3. Musical vignettes.

• Sixteen Tips:

  1. Brand identification. Research has demonstrated that a shocking percentage of viewers remember your commercial, but forget the name of your product. Here are two ways to register your brand name: (a) Use the name within the first ten seconds. (b) Play games with the name. Spell it. When you advertise a new product, you have to teach people its name on television.
  2. Show the package. Commercials which end by showing the package are more effective in changing brand preference than commercials which don’t.
  3. Food in motion. It has been found that food in motion looks particularly appetizing.
  4. Close-ups. It is a good thing to use close-ups when your product is the hero of your commercial.
  5. Open with the fire. You have only 30 seconds. If you grab attention in the first frame with a visual surprise, you stand a better chance of holding the viewer.
  6. When you have nothing to say, sing it. There have been some successful commercials which sang the sales pitch, but jingles are below average in changing brand preference.
  7. Sound effects. While music does not add to the selling power of commercials, sound effects – such as sausages sizzling in a frying-pan – can make a positive difference.
  8. Voice-over or on-camera? Research shows that it is more difficult to hold your audience if you use voice-over. It is better to have the actors talk on camera.
  9. Supers. It pays to reinforce your promise by setting it in type and superimposing it over the video, while your soundtrack speaks the words.
  10. Avoid visual banality. If you want the viewer to pay attention to your commercial, show her something she has never seen before.
  11. Changes of scene. Hal Riney uses a great many scenes without confusing people, but I can’t, and I bet you can’t either. On the average, commercials with a plethora of short scenes are below average in changing brand preference.
  12. Mnemonics. This unpronounceable word is used to describe a visual device repeated over a long period.
  13. Show the product in use. It pays to show the product being used, and, if possible, the end-result of using it.
  14. Everything is possible on TV. The technicians can produce anything you want.
  15. Miscomprehension. If you want to avoid your television commercials being misunderstood, you had better make them crystal clear.
  16. The great scandal. Television programs cost about $4 a second to produce, but commercials cost $2,000 a second. The easiest way to reduce the cost of a commercial is to cut actors out of the storyboard.

• Studies conducted by Ogilvy & Mather found that commercials which name competing brands are less believable and more confusing than commercials which don’t.

• Radio has become the Cinderella of advertising media, representing only 6 % of total advertising in the United States. There is no research to measure the efficacy of the commercials, so nobody knows what works. A pilot study I commissioned suggests four positive factors:

  1. Identify your brand early in the commercial.
  2. Identify it often.
  3. Promise the listener a benefit early in the commercial.
  4. Repeat it often.

• In my opinion – and it is nothing more than that – the first thing your radio commercial has to do is to get people to listen. Surprise them. Arouse their curiosity. Wake them up. Once they are awake, talk to them as one human being to another. Involve them. Charm them. Make them laugh.

• Because radio is a high-frequency medium, people quickly get tired of hearing the same commercial. So make several. Compared with television, radio commercials cost almost nothing to produce.

Advertising corporations

• If well planned and executed, corporate advertising can be a profitable investment. Opinion Research Corporation has found that people who know a company well are five times more likely to have a favorable opinion of it.

• Corporate advertising can improve the morale of your employees; who wants to work for an outfit that nobody has ever heard of? It can also make it easier to recruit better people, at all levels. And, I believe, it can make your corporation a more seductive suitor in takeover bids.

• Most corporate campaigns are short-lived because they don’t start with any clear objective, and because research is not used to track their progress.

• Many corporate campaigns fail because they are under-funded. Companies which spend millions on advertising their brand names are curiously stingy when it comes to their corporate campaigns.

• Another common mistake is to confine the campaign to magazines and newspapers. When you add television, tracking studies record a dramatic increase in penetration.

• Whatever you do, for goodness sake, don’t change the name of your corporation to initials.

• In recent years corporations have been using advertising in attempts to influence public opinion on such issues as energy, nationalization, and foreign imports. The trouble is that very few readers believe what corporations say.

• Advertising whose purpose is to influence public opinion is more likely to be successful if it follows these principles:

  • If the issue is complicated, and it almost always is, simplify it as much as you reasonably can.
  • Present your case in terms of the reader’s self-interest.
  • Disarm with candor. ARMCO had a reputation as the worst polluter in Houston. They tackled the problem with advertising that told how they had changed their ways.
  • Give both sides of the issue.
  • Know who your target is.

• Most advocacy campaigns are too little and too late. They are addressed to the wrong audience, lack a defined purpose, don’t go on long enough, are weak in craftsmanship, and advocate a hopeless cause. So they fail.

• Advocacy advertising is not a job for beginners.

How to advertise foreign travel

When you undertake to advertise a foreign country, you have to be prepared for a lot of political flak.

• Sometimes you will find it advisable to change the image of the country you advertise.

• While most advertising for countries should be designed to plant a long-term image in the reader’s mind, there are occasions when it can be used ad hoc, to solve temporary problems.

• Perhaps the most important factor in the success of tourism advertising is the subjects you choose to illustrate. My advice is to choose things that are unique to the country concerned. People don’t go half the way around the world to see things they can equally well see at home.

• People dream about visiting foreign countries. The job of your advertising is to convert their dreams into action. This can best be done by combining mouth-watering photographs with specific how-to-do-it information.

• When you are advertising little-known countries, it is particularly important to give people a lot of information. In a two-page newspaper advertisement for Singapore we told readers about what to wear, the weather they could expect, the language, the food, costs, every mortal thing.

• Patterns of travel are peculiarly subject to fashion. The Virgin Islands may be all the rage one year, Hawaii the next. Try to put your country on the map, with headlines like ‘Suddenly Everyone is Going to Ruritania.’

• Tourism advertising works well in magazines, but it can work even better on television.

The secrets of success in business-to-business advertising

• An advertisement, however efficient, can seldom close a sale itself. Its function is to pave the way for salesmen, by pre-selling your product and attracting leads.

• By and large, the advertising techniques that work in this kind of advertising are the same as the techniques that work in consumer advertising – like promising the reader a benefit, news, testimonials, and helpful information.

• Make sure that what you promise is important to your customer.

• Make your promise specific. Instead of generalities, use percentages, time elapsed, dollars saved.

• Testimonials work well, as long as they come from experts in reputable companies.

• Demonstrations are most effective when they compare your product’s performance with your competitors’.

• News works well. It appears that readers scan the advertisements in technical journals looking for new products.

• Information that is useful to the reader in his job can also be effective, provided the information involves your product.

• Layouts should be simple, avoiding the arty devices dear to second-rate art directors – like type which is too big to be readable, eccentric designs and headlines at the bottom of the page.

• Body copy is seldom read by more than 10 % of the readers of a publication. But that 10 % consists of prospects – people interested enough in what you are selling to take the trouble to read about it. What you say to them determines the success of your advertisement.

• When you advertise bubblegum or underwear, there isn’t much to say, but a computer or a generator calls for long copy. Don’t be afraid to write it. Long copy – more than 350 words – actually attracts more readers than short copy.

• In business publications, four-color ads cost only a third more than black and white, but they attract twice as many readers. Four-color is a good buy.

• Captions should appear under all your photographs. Twice as many people read them as read body copy. And use your captions to sell. The best captions are mini-advertisements in themselves.

• Some products used by business cannot be sold in 30 seconds. In such cases, I advise you to sacrifice frequency to delivering a thorough sales message.

• Many small business-to-business advertisers shy away from television because commercials cost so much to produce, but inexpensive commercials can be highly effective – if they come directly, to the point and offer something of genuine interest.

• There is no such thing as a commodity. All goods and services are differentiable.

• The most successful commodity products differentiated themselves in one of two ways: either by low cost or by having the best reputation for quality or service.

• McGraw-Hill reports that nearly all inquiries come from people who have a specific need or application in mind, and a substantial percentage of them buy within six months of their inquiry.

• Always put a toll-free number in your advertisements, to make the inquiry as fast and as easy as possible. Include a business reply card and a coupon requesting more information. This combination guarantees you the greatest number of productive inquiries. In addition, close your body copy with your offer, your address, and phone number. The average business publication is read by three readers besides the subscriber. If the first reader cuts out the coupon, the others cannot respond to the offer without the second address.

• Analyse your inquiries and the action they produce. This will enable you to answer your boss’s inevitable question: ‘What tangible results am I getting from my advertising?’ Here are three ways to analyze inquiries:

  1. Survey a sample of inquirers. Do they intend to buy your product? To bide their time until a salesman calls? Or simply to keep your product in mind for the future?
  2. Question the salespeople who follow up the inquiries. Did the inquiry lead to a sale? Was this account a new prospect? How did the salesman rate this prospect – a one-time sale, a growth account, a dead end?
  3. Relate inquiries to the media that produced them. This can help you fine-tune your media selection.

• An effective strategy in business advertising is to show the reader how he can calculate the money your product would save him.

• Many business purchases require approval from top management as well as the purchasing agent. Top managers may not respond to, or even understand, the details that are important to the specifiers. They are only interested in the broad benefits – particularly cost savings.

• It sometimes pays to run separate campaigns – one addressed to top management, the other to the specialists who read trade publications.

Direct mail, my first love and secret weapon

• Advertisers who distribute their products in the normal way, through wholesalers and retailers, have great difficulty in isolating the results of their advertising from the other factors in their marketing mix, but direct-mail advertisers can measure the results of their mailings to the dollar.

• You can test every variable in your mailings and determine exactly its effect on your sales. But because you can only test one variable at a time, you cannot afford to test them all.

• Next to the positioning of your product, the most important variables to be tested are pricing, terms of payment, premiums and the format of your mailing.

• When your profit margin allows, it pays to offer a free premium. Always test different premiums. One of the most effective is cash prizes in sweepstakes.

• Sweepstakes, premiums, free offers, and low prices will build up your initial response, but the customer who is attracted by these devices is not always the customer who turns into a long-term buyer.

• Asking for the full price and cash with the order will reduce the number of people who respond. But it may turn up more customers who are likely to stay with you over the years. Only testing will tell. The more you test, the more profitable your direct mail will become.

• Once you have evolved a mailing which produces profitable results, treat it as the ‘control’ and start testing ways to beat it.

• Sometimes an expensive control can be made less expensive without reducing your orders. You can test a smaller mailing piece, or eliminate the personalization, or print your brochure in two colors instead of four, or eliminate the brochure altogether.

• Successful mailings do not always depend on premiums, brochures, and other such paraphernalia. I have seen letters produce satisfactory results all by themselves. But they have to be long letters.

• Good photographs of your product cost more than bad ones, but they also sell more. When you want to show something that cannot be photographed, like cutaways of the inside of your product, use a drawing.

• Long copy sells more than short copy, particularly when you are asking the reader to spend a lot of money.

• Cross-heads give breathing space to your copy, and make it more readable. They should be written in such a way that skimmers get the main points of your sales story.

• Winston Churchill said, ‘Short words are best, and the old words when short are best of all.’ This applies in spades to mail order copy.

• Readers often skip from the headline to the coupon, to find out what your offer is. So make your coupons mini-ads, complete with brand name, promise and a miniature photograph of your product.

• Many readers tell themselves they will mail the coupon ‘later,’ but never get around to it. One survey showed that twice as much response is lost in this way as is received by the advertiser. Here are four ways to keep your prospects on the hook:

  1. Limited edition.
  2. Limited supply.
  3. Last time at this price.
  4. Special price for promptness.

• It used to be thought that the more cluttered your layout, the more you would sell. My observation has been the opposite. Tidy, well-organized layouts actually increase coupon returns.

• Watch the media your competitors use, in particular the media they continue to use. Watch for editorial changes in magazines. They may attract your kind of reader, or may drive them away.

• Go easy on two-page spreads. They cost twice as much as single pages, but seldom produce twice as many orders. Test different units of space, like a page and a business reply card versus a page alone. Although the card may double the cost, it can sometimes generate four times as many orders as the page alone.

• When you advertise repeatedly in the same magazine, response rates almost always drop. In some magazines, your ad may make a profit six times a year, while you may be able to use other magazines twelve times before they become unprofitable.

• It may surprise you to know that the right kind of television commercial can persuade people to order products by mail or telephone – mostly telephone. The ‘right kind’ are those which set up a problem and demonstrate how your product can solve it; give a money-back guarantee; include the price; and ask for the order, explicitly and urgently.

• The demonstrations should promise not one benefit, but several. (This runs counter to the Procter & Gamble formula.)

• You must allow 20 seconds to give information on how to order. This is long enough to give your toll-free telephone number and post office box number, complete with supers; and to repeat the charge-free telephone number at least twice.

• Most advertisers measure their purchases on television time by cost per thousand viewers reached, but you should measures them by the number of orders you receive each time a station broadcasts one of your commercials. Then, eliminate the time periods and the stations that don’t pay off.

• The better the program on which your commercials appear, the fewer sales you make. When viewers are bored by an old movie, they are more likely to pick up the telephone and order your product than when they are riveted by an episode of Dallas.

• Remember, there is no correlation between the size of your audience and the number of orders you receive.

Advertising for good causes

• Before you rush off to your favorite charity and volunteer to raise money by running advertisements, I must warn you that it is rare for any advertisement, however powerful, to bring in enough direct contributions to pay for the cost of the space. What advertising can do, is to ‘sensitize’ the market, thus making it easier to raise money by more personal methods of solicitation.

• It is difficult to persuade people to give money to a charity unless they know something about it.

Competing with Procter & Gamble

• Your chances of competing successfully against this juggernaut will be improved if you understand the reasons for its overwhelming success, so I am going to tell you what my partner Kenneth Roman has learned about them:

  • First, P&G is disciplined. Their guiding philosophy is to plan thoroughly, minimize risk, and stick to their proven principles.
  • To get a broad trial quickly, they distribute home-delivered samples on a massive scale.
  • They never enter small categories unless they expect them to grow, and they set out to dominate every category they enter.
  • By building huge volume, they achieve lower manufacturing costs than their competitors, and this gives them higher profit margins or permits them to sell at a lower price.
  • They often enter more than one brand in a category, and allow each brand to compete with its sibling – with no holds barred.
  • They use market research to identify consumer needs. Says Ed Harness, their former Chairman, ‘We are forever trying to see what lies around the corner.…We study the consumer and try to identify new trends in tastes, needs, environment and living habits.’
  • Most important of all, they have a way of creating products which are superior to their competitors’. And, by blind in-home tests, they make sure that the superiority is apparent to the consumer.
  • When they launch new brands, they advertise them heavily, and they support their successful brands with large budgets
  • Their test-marketing is unbelievably thorough – and patient. They tested Folger’s regional expansion program for six years before moving into the East.
  • They use research to determine the most effective strategy, and never change a successful strategy. Their strategies for Tide, Crest, Zest and Ivory Bar have not changed for thirty years.
  • They always promise the consumer one important benefit. When they perceive that there is an opportunity to increase sales by promising more than one, they sometimes run two campaigns at the same time – often in the same medium.
  • They believe that the first duty of advertising is to communicate effectively, not to be original or entertaining, and they measure communication at three stages: before the copy is written, after the commercials are produced, and in test markets.
  • All their commercials include a ‘moment of confirmation’. They show a woman squeezing the Charmin and attesting to its softness. They show a housewife observing that Era gets out grease spots.
  • In 60 % of their commercials, they use demonstrations.
  • Their commercials talk directly to the consumer, using language and situations that are familiar to her.
  • They go to great pains to communicate the brand name, verbally and visually. Most of their names are short and simple.
  • Their commercials deliver the promise verbally and reinforce it with supers. And they usually end with a repetition of the promise. They tend to use a lot of words, sometimes more than a hundred in a 30-second commercial.
  • When Procter & Gamble uses a continuing character to sell a brand, he or she is always an unknown actor or actress, never a celebrity.
  • Less than half their commercials include a ‘reason why’. They have come to think it sufficient to show consumers what the product will do for them, without explaining why it does it.
  • Very often they also show the users of their products deriving some emotional benefit. Like ‘You’ll be more appreciated if you use Dash.’
  • They use television techniques which have been proved to sell – however much their agencies may regard them as old hat. Notably slices of life, user testimonials, and talking heads.
  • Until 1976, Procter & Gamble eschewed music, but they are now using it, albeit in only 10 % of their commercials. And they now use a touch of humor in some of their commercials.
  • While their commercials are often extremely competitive, they do not spend their money naming competing brands. They refer to ‘the other leading detergent’.
  • Once they have evolved a campaign that works, they keep it running for a long time, in many cases for ten years or more. But they continually test new executions of the ongoing strategy.
  • Once they establish an advertising budget, they continually test higher levels of expenditure.
  • Only 30 % of their budgets go into prime evening time. The rest is divided between daytime and fringe. Instead of using 30-second spots exclusively, they have been using an increasing number of 45s, finding that the extra 15 seconds allows for better ‘situation development’ and ‘viewer involvement’.
  • Almost all P&G brands are advertised throughout the year. They have found that this works better than ‘flighting’ – running them six weeks on, six weeks off. It also provides considerable cost savings.
  • Their Achilles’ heel is their consistency. They are always predictable. It helps to win battles when you can anticipate the enemy’s strategy.

• The best of all ways to beat P&G is, of course, to market a better product. Bell Brand potato chips defeated P&G’s Pringles because they tasted better. And Rave overtook Lilt in less than a year because, not containing ammonia, it is a better product.

18 Miracles of research

• Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.

• Hire people who are better than you are.

• Here are 18 of the miracles research can perform for you:

  1. It can measure the reputation of your company among consumers, security analysts, government officials, newspaper editors, the academic community.
  2. Using mathematical models, research can estimate the sales of new products, and the advertising expenditures required to achieve maximum profits.
  3. Research can get consumer reactions to a new product when it is still in the conceptual state.
  4. Once a product is ready for market, research can tell you how consumers rate it compared with the products they are now buying. If they find your product inferior, send it back to your Research and Development people.
  5. Research can tell you what formulation, flavor, fragrance, and color will appeal to most consumers.
  6. Research can find out which of several package designs will sell best. While you’re about it, find out if people can open your package.
  7. Research can help you decide the optimum positioning for your product.
  8. Research can define your target audience. Men or women. Young or old. Rich or poor. Education. Lifestyle. Media habits.
  9. It can find out what factors are most important in the purchase decision, and what vocabulary consumers use when talking about your kind of product.
  10. Research can determine what ‘line extension’ is likely to sell best.
  11. Research can warn you when consumers show signs of finding an established product less desirable than it once was.
  12. Research can save you time and money by ‘reading’ your competitor’s test markets – even his cost of goods and profit margin.
  13. Research can determine the most persuasive promise. Advertising which promises no benefit to the consumer does not sell, yet the majority of campaigns contain no promise whatever (That is the most important sentence in this book. Read it again.). The selection of the promise is the most valuable contribution that research can make to the advertising process. One method is to show the consumer a number of promises, telling him or her that each promise is for a new product. The consumer is asked to rate the promises for importance and uniqueness. Another technique is to write two advertisements for your product, each with a different promise in the headline. At the end of the copy, you offer a free sample of the product. You then run the advertisements in a newspaper or magazine, in such a way that half the circulation gets one headline, and the other half gets the other headline. The headline which draws the more applications for a sample wins the test. Try to find a promise which is not only persuasive but also unique.
  14. Research can tell you which of several premiums will work best.
  15. Research can tell you whether your advertising communicates what you want it to communicate.
  16. Research can tell you which of several television commercials will sell the most. Celebrity commercials, for example, usually score above average on recall and below average on changing brand preference.
  17. Research can tell you how many people read your advertisements, and how many remember them. Gallup invented a method of measuring readership. He interviewed representative samples of readers, took them through the newspaper and had them point to the things they had read.
  18. Research can settle arguments.

• There are two vital questions that research cannot answer: Which campaign will make the biggest contribution to your brand over a period of years? Here you still have to rely on judgment. What price should you charge for your product?

• Given sufficient training, any intelligent person can learn to conduct surveys, but getting people to use the results requires salesmanship of a high order.

• Surveys can produce reliable results with amazingly small samples. When, however, you are looking for trends over time, you had better use larger samples to be sure that any changes are statistically significant.

• Respondents do not always tell the truth to interviewers.

• If you’re doing research among children, you need to know that they understand only the simplest questions, and cannot easily articulate their replies. They also tend to say what they think you want them to say. Here are three procedures which work reasonably well:

  1. Group dynamics. You show your commercial to a group of children and then get them to play games, like talking to a friend on a play telephone about your commercial. Or you get them to imitate the characters in the commercial. This procedure reveals misunderstandings and negative reactions.
  2. Communication discrepancy. This procedure is for somewhat older children. You show them your commercial and ask them what it told them about the product, and what they liked about it. Then you show them the product itself and ask what they like about it. By comparing what they said about the commercial and what they say about the product itself, you find out whether your commercial does your product justice.
  3. Prize pad test. You give children a pad on which four toys are illustrated, including the one you are advertising, and ask them to circle the toy they would like you to give them. Then, after showing them your commercial, you say that some of the children forgot to put their names on the pad, which is probably true. You hand out new pads and again ask them to circle the toy they want. By comparing the votes, you get a measurement of your commercial’s persuasion.

• I have seen ideas so wild that nobody in his senses would dare to use them – until research found that they worked.

• Research is often misused by agencies and their clients. They have a way of using it to prove they are right. They use research as a drunkard uses a lamppost – not for illumination but for support.

What little I know about marketing

• You can judge the vitality of a company by the number of new products it brings to market.

• Why do eight out of ten new consumer products fail? Sometimes because they are too new. More often new products fail because they are not new enough. They do not offer any perceptible point of difference – like better quality, better flavor, better value, more convenience or better solutions to problems.

• It helps if the point of difference goes hand-in-hand with a chord of familiarity that links the new product to the consumer’s past experience – a disposable diaper, a light beer, a diet cola, a paper towel.

• When you want to name your product, there are three kinds of names:

  1. Names of men and women – like FORD, CAMPBELL and VEUVE CLICQUOT. They are memorable, they are difficult to copy and they suggest that your product is the invention of a human being.
  2. Meaningless names like KODAK, KOTEX, and CAMEL. It takes many years and millions of dollars to endow them with any sales appeal.
  3. Descriptive names like 3-IN-ONE OIL, BAND-AID, and JANITOR IN A DRUM. Such names start with sales appeal. But they are too specific to be used for subsequent line-extensions.

• You can use consumer research to find out whether a name says what you think it says, whether it is easily pronounceable, whether it is confused with existing names, and whether it is memorable.

• If it is important that the name appear as big as possible on a package, choose a short one like TIDE, and not a long one like SCREAMING YELLOW ZONKERS.

• If you want to use the same name in foreign markets, make sure that it does not have an obscene meaning in Turkish or any other language.

• Some products which sell well without being advertised may sell better, and make more profit, with advertising.

• It has become prohibitively expensive to launch brands aimed at a dominant share-of-market. Even the manufacturers with the biggest war-chests are finding it more profitable to aim their new brands at narrowly defined segments of the market.

• Most marketers spend too much time worrying about how to revive products which are in trouble, and too little time worrying about how to make successful products even more successful.

• Concentrate your time, your brains, and your advertising money on your successes. Back your winners, and abandon your losers.

• Most young men in big corporations behave as if profit were not a function of time.

• In the long run, the manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined image for his product gets the largest share of the market. The manufacturer who finds himself up the creek is the short-sighted opportunist who siphons off his advertising dollars for short-term promotions.

• Price-off deals and other such hypodermics find favor with sales managers, but their effect is ephemeral, and they can be habit-forming.

• A cut-price offer can induce people to try a brand, but they return to their habitual brands as if nothing had happened.

• It is usually assumed that marketers use scientific methods to determine the price of their products. Nothing could be further from the truth. In almost every case, the process of decision is one of guesswork.

• The higher you price your product, the more desirable it becomes in the eyes of the consumer.

• The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.

• If you stop advertising a brand which is still in its introductory phase, you will probably kill it – forever.

• Studies of the last six recessions have demonstrated that companies which do not cut back their advertising budgets achieve greater increases in profit than companies which do cut back.

• I have come to regard advertising as part of the product, to be treated as a production cost, not a selling cost. It follows that it should not be cut back when times are hard, any more than you would stint any other essential ingredient in your product.

• 32 % of beer-drinkers drink 80 % of all beer. In everything you do, keep your eye glued to the heavy users. They are unlike occasional users in their motivations.

• Advertising is still the cheapest form of selling. It would cost you $25,000 to have salesmen call on a thousand homes. A television commercial can do it for $4.69.

• Consumers do not buy one brand of soap, or coffee, or detergent. They have a repertory of four or five brands and move from one to another. They almost never buy a brand which has not been admitted to their repertory during its first year on the market.

• The only thing you can expect from post-launch advertising is that it will persuade present users to buy your brand more often than the others in their repertory.

• Your launch advertising is a matter of life and death. Spend every penny you can lay your hands on.

• The task of advertising is not primarily one of conversion but rather of reinforcement and assurance…sales of a given brand may be increased without converting to the brand any new consumers, but merely by inducing its existing users, those who already use it at least occasionally, to use it more frequently.

• Always hold your sales meetings in rooms too small for the audience, even if it means holding them in the WC. ‘Standing room only’ creates an atmosphere of success, as in theatres and restaurants, while a half-empty auditorium smells of failure.

• I once heard Marvin Bower define marketing as objectivity. I cannot beat that.

What’s wrong with advertising?

• Advertising is no more and no less than a reasonably efficient way to sell.

• Stephen Leacock called advertising: ‘The art of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.’

• It is often charged that advertising can persuade people to buy inferior products. So it can – once. But the consumer perceives that the product is inferior and never buys it again. This causes grave financial loss to the manufacturer, whose profits come from repeat purchases.

• The best way to increase the sale of a product is to improve the product. This is particularly true of food products; the consumer is amazingly quick to notice an improvement in taste and buy the product more often.

• I have written factual advertising for a bank, for gasoline, for a stockbroker, margarine, foreign travel and many other products. It always sells better than empty advertising.

• The majority of campaigns fail to give consumers enough information.

 


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