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#64 Making a Tiny Ad Work for You
Denny Hatch -- Marketing Expert Denny Hatch -- Marketing Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia , PA
Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Issue #64 – Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Posted by Denny Hatch

The Secrets of Making a Tiny Ad Work for You

James McNeill Whistler, Rotherhithe (1871)

The year is 1913. Imagine yourself as a poor blighter in the Rotherhithe section of London. For years you’ve knocked around the River Thames finding work where you can get it, picking up a few shillings here-‘n’-there. Your wife is always nagging you to find steady work. You have trouble putting porridge on the table let alone bangers and mash. The kids are underfed and always hungry. Your life is going nowhere.

     Suddenly a chum from the dockyards shows you this little ad in The Times of London “Help Wanted” section:

The effect is immediate and electric.
     This is an advertising masterpiece. It would as effective 2019 in exciting out-of-work millennial Xbox addicts living in their parents’ basement as it was 116 years ago.
     This ad is the stuff of legends—tiny, cheep, just 30 words.
     It reportedly generated hundreds of responses from which Ernest Shackleton put together a crew of 27 adventurers for a celebrated expedition to the South Pole.

Creating the Ad
     Legendary British Polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton was knighted (Order of the British Empire) in 1911. Two years later he wanted to put together a third expedition to the South Pole.

He needed a crew. Tough, hardy guys who were looking for work and wanted to do something with their lives.
     How did Shackleton accomplish it? Where would he find them?

Let’s start with David Ogilvy.
“The wickedest of all sins is to run an advertisement without a headline.” —David Ogilvy

“Advertising is not an art form, it’s a medium for information, a message for a single purpose: to sell.” —David Ogilvy 

“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.” —David Ogilvy

What’s Ogilvy talking about? This kind of nonsense:

What the hell is this? Who should read it? What is it selling? What does it want the reader to do? How can someone respond? How could it possibly pay for itself?
     For copywriter, designer and client it’s like peeing in blue serge; it makes you feel warm all over and nobody notices.

Shackleton’s Headline: “MEN WANTED”
     “The headline selects the reader,” said Swedish direct marketing wizard Axel Andersson.
     The unstated sub-hed: “Women and children need not apply.”

It’s a guy thing…
“When reason and emotion come into conflict, emotion wins every time.
     —John J. Flieder

For a man desperately seeking work, these 31 words—and myriad implied benefits—could cause storm of emotions and hope to boil up inside.
     “The seven key copy drivers—the emotional hot-buttons that make people act: Fear – Greed – Guilt – Anger – Exclusivity – Salvation – Flattery.”
   —Bob Hacker and Axel Andersson

     The entire ad was pinned to flattery:
     “I’m talking to you man-to-man. This is something you can do. I know you can do it. It will change your life! Your life will matter after all.”
     • Job possibility.
     • Money—not a lot, but better than none.
     • Excitement of travel.
     • Challenge of hardship.
     • Thrill of danger.
     • Honor and recognition in case of success.

Alas, expedition ended badly. Their ship, Endurance was trapped in ice and was finally crushed. The men got recognition, but not the kind they hoped for.
     They endured 10 months in subfreezing weather on a diet of seal meat, penguins and their sled dogs. All were damned lucky to get out alive. 

     Three men did die—members of the four rescue teams sent out to bring them back.

     In short, not a pretty story with a happy ending.
     But by all measurements, the little ad worked like gangbusters.

Word Count: 601

At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press. He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 years he has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.

Denny Hatch
The St. James
200 West Washington Square, #3007
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-644-9526 (Rings on my desk)

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