The business community wants remarkable advertising, but turns a cold shoulder to the kind of people who can produce it. That is why most advertisements are so infernally dull.... our business needs massive transfusions of talent. And talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among nonconformists, dissenters, and rebels.
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Making the logo twice the size is often a good thing to do, because most advertisements are deficient in brand identification. Showing the clients' faces is also a better stratagem than it may sound, because the public is more interested in personalities than in corporations. Some clients can be projected as human symbols of their own products.
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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. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.
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Viewers have a way of remembering the celebrity while forgetting the product. I did not know this when I paid Eleanor Roosevelt $35,000 to make a commercial for margarine. She reported that her mail was equally divided. "One half was sad because I had damaged my reputation. The other half was happy because I had damaged my reputation." Not one of my proudest memories.
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It has taken more than a hundred scientists two years to find out how to make the product in question; I have been given thirty days to create its personality and plan its launching. If I do my job well, I shall contribute as much as the hundred scientists to the success of this product.
I was doing a campaign once for a manufacturer, and I couldn't think of an ideas, and I was kind of desperate about it. The night before I had to show something to my client I had a dream, an interesting dream. I woke up and for once in my life I wrote it down and went back to sleep Next morning I went to the office and had that dream out into a TV commercial which is still running thirty years after and which has made that particular product the leader in its field.
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You aren't advertising to a standing army; you are advertising to a moving parade. Three million consumers get married every year. The advertisement which sold a refrigerator to those who got married last year will probably be just as successful with those who'll get married next year. An advertisement is just like a radar sweep, constantly hunting new prospects as they come into the market. Get a good radar and keep it sweeping.
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Supposing you've got an acute appendicitis. You've got to be operated on tonight. Would you like to have a surgeon who's read some books of anatomy and knows how to do that operation - or would you prefer to have a surgeon who refused to read all books about anatomy and relied on his own instinct?
I had a friend who was the King's surgeon in England. One day I asked him what makes a great surgeon. He replied, "What distinguishes a great surgeon is his knowledge. He knows more than other surgeons. During an operation he finds something which he wasn't expecting, recognizes it and knows what to do about it." It's the same thing with advertising people. The good ones know more. How do you get to know more? By reading books about advertising. By picking the brains of people who know more than you do. From the Magic Lanterns. And from experience.
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It takes uncommon guts to stick to one style in the face of all the pressures to 'come up with something new' every six months. It is tragically easy to be stampeded into change. But golden rewards await the advertiser who has the brains to create a coherent image, and the stability to stick with it over a long period.
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We admire people who work hard, who are objective and thorough. We detest office politicians, toadies, bullies, and pompous asses. We abhor ruthlessness. The way up our ladder is open to everybody. In promoting people to top jobs, we are influenced as much by their character as anything else.
H. L. Mencken once said that nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public. That is not true. I have come to believe that it pays to make all your layouts project a feeling of good taste, provided that you do it unobtrusively. An ugly layout suggests an ugly product. There are very few products which do not benefit from being given a first class ticket through life.
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When someone is made the head of an office in the Ogilvy & Mather chain, I send him a Matrioshka doll from Gorky. If he has the curiosity to open it, and keep opening it until he comes to the inside of the smallest doll, he finds this message: If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.
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I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive. People love to read stories. They like to know you as a real person who has your struggle, pain, success and failure, etc. One well-known example is Jared Fogle's weight loss story which made millions of dollars for Subway. Start to collect your stories from today and use them in your ad campaigns.
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Most headlines are set too big to be legible in the magazines or newspaper. Never approve a layout until you have seen it pasted into the magazine or newspaper for which it was destined. If you pin up the layouts on a bulletin board and appraise them from fifteen feet, you will produce posters.
The creative process requires more than reason. Most original thinking isn't even verbal. It requires 'a groping experimentation with ideas, governed by intuitive hunches and inspired by the unconscious.' The majority of business men are incapable of original thinking because they are unable to escape from the tyranny of reason. Their imaginations are blocked.
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I once found myself conspiring with a British Cabinet Minister as to how we might persuade Her Majesty's Treasury to cough up more money for the British Travel advertising in America. Said he, "Why does any American in his senses spend his vacation in the cold damp of an English summer when he could equally well bask under Italian skies? I can only suppose that your advertising is the answer." Damn right.
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Never write an advertisement which you wouldn't want your own family to read. You wouldn't tell lies to your own wife. Don't tell them to mine. Do as you would be done by. If you tell lies about a product, you will be found out - either by the Government, which will prosecute you, or by the consumer, who will punish you by not buying your product a second time. Good products can be sold by honest advertising. If you don't think the product is good, you have no business to be advertising it.
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The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be. Before people making a buying decision, they have many questions. For example, why they should buy from you, why your product is better than other similar products, why they should trust you, and why they should buy it now, etc.
Once upon a time I was riding on the top of a First Avenue bus, when I heard a mythical housewife say to another, "Molly, my dear, I would have bought that new brand of toilet soap if only they hadn't set the body copy in ten point Garamond." Don't you believe it. What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.
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Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving. Testing was used in advertising decades ago. The internet has made testing so easy that every online marketer can use it to improve advertising results. Google content experiment is a free tool for you to do split testing.
There isn't any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents, and the margarines... The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.
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