“A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.”

David Ogilvy

[T]o get more sales, more people need to read your ads. Obviously, an ad cannot sell without drawing attention, but you do not want the consumer to focus on your ad being an ad. You want them to focus on the message.

Avoid advertisements that are primarily an overly glorified logo. A logo rarely sells — it is the message that creates desire for your company’s offer.

I’ve read many blogs that, subjectively, state “ugly landing pages” work well. This can be true. The reason: simple wins. Ads that look too commercial typically fail. Your priority is to get people to start reading the message, and then to sell to them.

Here’s an example (that David Ogilvy once wrote):

Click here to read the full ad.

The ad does not draw attention to a logo. David Ogilvy is trying to persuade his target audience of one thought to start: “What’s the story behind this guy with an eyepatch?” This is how story copy works.

On page 74 of Ogilvy On Advertising, he wrote:

On average, helpful information is read by 75% more people than copy which deals only with the product.

Ogilvy wrote this fact when mentioning his ad, “How to take out stains.” He showed a picture of 12 different common stains. The problem was in the picture and the solution in the copy.

An advertisement appears selfish to everyone because ads are written with one objective — to get the consumer’s money. Our guard goes up when we deal with “selfish” people. This is especially true with salespeople; we are hesitant to trust them because they have an ulterior motive: their commission.

So avoid looking too commercial when you start an ad. Appeal to the consumer first. Then, show them how your solution is more beneficial to them than the perceived cost.

As a copywriter, you must make the reader curious. Once they start reading and you have their attention, then you begin selling.

This is the 2nd part in our David Ogilvy series. Make sure you are subscribed so you don’t miss the next posts when they come out — via RSS or Email.

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3 responses to ““A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.””

  1. john Avatar

    Good stuff man! That’s why “how to” style headlines work so well. People think “there is some useful information for me here”. As long as you provide real info, not an obvious sales pitch, you”ll get super high readership. That’s the principle all the lifestyle landers are working off these days. Ogilve and Caples ftw!

    1. Shock Marketer Avatar
      Shock Marketer


  2. Scotch and Sales Avatar

    Great post and one of my absolute favorite ads of all time.

    Of course everyone is familiar with the “most interesting man in the world” which I feel is inspired by this campaign.

    I think what’s interesting between the dos equis and hathaway ads are the two different sales techniques. Ogilvy always knew how to make the product the hero. His copy makes the shirt seem like a masterpiece of craftsmanship, a life changing purchase, and an object of desire.

    The “most interesting” ads use a different approach of not really talking about the product at all and selling the appeal of the character in the story which most people will instantley desire to be and picture themselves as.

    Makes me wonder if people’s appreciation of product quality has declined or if that’s just the perception of the ad industry.

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