• advertising is not entertainment or an art form, but a medium of information
  • do your homework
  • the wrong advertising can actually reduce the sales of a product
  • repeat your winners
  • you need big ideas that can last for a decade: “Merrill Lynch is bullish on america”
  • it pays to give most products an image of quality: a first class ticket
  • if you and your competitors all make excellent products, don’t try to imply that your product is better. just say what’s good about your product: do a cleaner, more honest, more informative job of saying it
  • people are most interested in what is happening where they live (“how SF people like coding!”)
  • “if it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative”
  • advertise to the kind of customers you want
  • “any fool can write a bad advertisement, but it takes a genius to keep his hands off a good one”
  • every advertiser has the same problem: “to be believed”
  • always try to include the price of your products
  • “the more facts you tell, the more you sell”
  • how to become a good copywriter: you copy others


  • photographs > drawings
  • keep illustration simple; focus on 1 person; crowd scenes don’t pull
  • people like illustrations they can identify with (ie. same sex)
  • 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
  • the kind of photographs which work hardest are those which amuse the reader’s curiosity
  • it pays to illustrate the end-result of using your product (before-and-after photos increase sales; by Gallup) 2018-09-14 15 14 13

big idea

  • did it make me gasp when i first saw it?
  • do i wish i had thought of it myself?
  • is it unique?
  • does it fit the strategy to perfection?
  • could it be used for 30 years?


  • headlines should promise a benefit, or deliver news, or offer a service, or tell a significant story, or recognize a problem, or quote a satisfied customer
  • don’t superimpose headlines onto illustrations
  • don’t use all-caps
  • don’t put a period on headlines
  • brand name in headline
  • headlines containing news are 22% better
  • headlines offer helpful information
  • headlines of ten words sell more than short headlines
  • 5x as many people read the headlines as read the body copy

body copy

  • long copy sells
  • make ads look like editorial pages (increases readership)
  • your first paragraph should be a grabber
  • avoid analogies
  • limit opening paragraph to 11 words
  • don’t address your readers as if they were gathered together in a stadium
  • you can’t bore people into buying your product
  • short sentences; short paragraphs; avoid difficult words
  • don’t write essays
  • write your copy in the form of a story


  • commercials which contain news are above average
  • products, like human beings, attract most attention when they are first born
  • historical subjects bore people
  • testimonials makes you more credible
  • add caption to photos! use captions to sell!


  • black type on white background
  • a sub head of two lines, between your headline and body copy, heightens the reader’s appetite for the feast to come
  • start body copy with drop initial
  • serifs > san-serifs
  • faces: century family, caslon, baskerville, jenson
  • “the eye is a creature of habit”