Marching Against Philip

A Discussion on the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Writing

Archive for the ‘Classic Ads’ Category

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”

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Possibly the most famous automobile ad, and David Ogilvy’s best remembered ads. What makes this ad kick-ass, and how can you apply its concepts to web-writing?

1. Do your homework

David Ogilvy spent three weeks reading about the car. Know your product, know what you’re selling. Essentially, know your stuff before you start telling.

2. Spend lots of effort coming up with the right headline

In the words of D.O himself

“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar. If you haven’t done some selling in your headline, you have wasted 80 percent of your client’s money.”

What’s the headline on your homepage or email newsletter? 37signals and Gmail have some good examples of great headlines on the homepage.

3. Tell People About the Price

Some people think that price drives readers away. I say price qualifies the right people who are convinced by your copy. Giving price details also convinces your reader of the image and brand value of your product.

4. Short and Sweet Points

Ogilvy’s ad is very factual. Would you read the ad if it was just chunks of big paragraphs, like we always see in academic texts? Didn’t think so. This ad has all its points numbered clearly. Keep sentences short, write very short paragraphs. Even if it means starting sentences with prepositions.


“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock”

What makes Rolls-Royce the best car in the world? “There is really no magic about it- it is merely patient attention to detail,” says an eminent Rolls-Royce engineer.

1. “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise comes from the electric clock,” reports the Technical Editor of THE MOTOR. Three mufflers tune out sound frequencies – acoustically.

2. Every Rolls-Royce engine is run for seven hours at full throttle before installation, and each car is test driven for hundreds of miles

3. The Rolls-Royce is designed as an owner-driven car. It is eighteen inches shorter than the largest domestic cars.

4. The car has power steering, power brakes and automatic gear-shift. It is very easy to drive and to park. No chauffeur required.

5. The finished car spends a week in the final test-shop, being fine-tuned. Here it is subjected to 98 separate ordeals. For example, the engineers use a stethoscope to listen for axle-whine.

6. The Rolls-Royce is guaranteed for three years. With a new network of dealers and parts-depots from Coast to coast, service is no problem.

7. The Rolls-Royce radiator has never changed, except that when Sir Henry Royce died in 1933 the monogram RR was changed from red to black.

8. The coachwork is given five coats of primer paint, and hand rubbed between each coat, before nine coats of finishing paint go on.

9. By moving a switch on the steering column, you can adjust the shock-absorbers to suit road conditions.

10. A picnic table, veneered in French walnut, slides out from under the dash. Two more swing out behind the front seats.

11. You can get such optional extras as an Espresso coffee-making machine, a dictating machine, a bed, hot and cold water for washing, an electric razor or a telephone.

12. There are three separate systems of power brakes, two hydraulic and one mechanical. Damage to one will not affect the others. The Rolls-Royce is a very safe car- and also a very lively car. It cruises serenely at eighty-five. Top speed is in excess of 100 m.p.h.

13. The Bentley is made by Rolls-Royce. Except for the radiators, they are identical motor cars, manufactured by the same engineers in the same works. People who feel diffident about driving a Rolls-Royce can buy a Bentley.

PRICE. The Rolls-Royce illustrated in this advertisement – f.o.b. principal ports of entry – costs $13,995.

If you would like the rewarding experience of driving a Rolls-Royce or Bentley, write or telephone to one of the dealers listed on opposite page. Rolls Royce Inc., 10 Rockefeller Plaza, New York 20, N.Y. Circle 5-1144.



Written by kziqi

May 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm

They All Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano … But When I Started To Play!~

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Here is John Caple’s classic ad written for the U.S. Music School, which employs a storyline appeal. It is so effective because it answers to every individual’s need for attention and recognition too.

They All Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano … But When I Started To Play!~


“Can he really play?” a girl whispered. “Heavens no!” Arthur   exclaimed. “He never played a note in his life.”

[Body Copy]

Arthur had just played “The Rosary”. The room rang with applause. I decided that this would be a dramatic moment for me to make my debut. To the amazement of all my friend, I strode confidently over to the piano and sat down.

“Jack is up to his old tricks,” somebody chuckled. The crowd laughed. They were certain I couldn’t play a single note.

“Can he really play?” I heard a girl whisper to Arthur.

“Heavens, no!” Arthur exclaimed. “He never played a note in all his life… But just you watch him. This is going to be good.”

I decided to make the most of the situation. With mock dignity I drew out a silk handkerchief and lightly dusted off the piano keys. Then I rose and gave the revolving piano stool a quarter of a turn, just as I had seen an imitator of Paderwski do in a vaudeville sketch.

“What do you think of his execution?” called a voice from the rear.

“We’re in favor of it!” came back the answer, and the crowd rocked with laughter.


Then I Started To Play

Instantly, a tense silence fell on the guests. The laughter died on their lips as if by magic. I played through the first few bars of Beethoven’s immortal Moonlight Sonata. I heard gasps of amazement. My friends sat breathless – spellbound!

I played on and as I played I forgot the people around me. I forgot the hour, the place, the breathless listeners. The little world I lived in seemed to fade – seemed to grow dim – unreal. Only the music was real. Only the music and visions it brought me. Visions as beautiful and as changing as the wind blown clouds and drifting moonlight that long ago inspired the master composer. It seemed as if the master musician was speaking to me – speaking through the medium of music —  not in words but chords. Not in sentences but in exquisite melodies!

A Complete Triumph!

As the last notes of the Moonlight Sonata died away, the room resounded with a sudden roar of applause. I found myself surrounded by excited faces. How my friends carried on! Men shook my hand –wildly congratulated me – pounded me on the back in their enthusiasm! Everybody was exclaiming with delight – plying me with rapid questions… “Jack! Why didn’t you tell us  you could play like that?” … “Where did you learn?” – “How long have you studied?” – “Who was your teacher?”

“I have never ever seen my teacher,” I replied. “And just a short while ago I couldn’t play a note.”

“Quit your kidding,” laughed Arthur, himself an accomplished pianist. “You’ve been studying for years I can tell.”

“I have been studying only for a short while,” I insisted. “I decided to keep it a secret so that I can surprise all you folks.”

Then I told them the whole story.

“Have you ever heard of the U.S. School of Music?” I asked.

A few of my friends nodded. “That’s a correspondence school isn’t it?” they exclaimed.

“Exactly,” I replied. “They have a new simplified method that can teach you to play any instrument my mail in just a few months. “

How I Learned to Play Without a Teacher

And then I explained for years how I longed to play the piano.

“A few months ago,” I continued, “I saw an interesting ad for the U.S. School of Music – a new method of learning to play which only costs a few cents a day! The ad told how a woman had mastered the piano in her spare time at home – and without a teacher! Best of all, the wonderful new method she used, required no laborious scales – no heartless exercises – no tiresome practicing. It sounded so convincing that I filled out the coupon requesting the Free Demonstration Lesson.

“The free book arrived promptly and I started in that very night to study the Demonstration Lesson. I was amazed to see how easy it was to play this new way. Then I sent for the course.

“When the course arrived I found it was just as the ad said – as easy as ABC.  And, as the lessons continued they got easier and easier. Before I knew it I was playing all the pieces I liked best. Nothing stopped me. I could play ballads or classical numbers or jazz, all with equal ease! And  I never did have any special talent for music!”

Play Any Instrument

You too, can now teach yourself to be an accomplished musician – right at home – in half the usual time. You can’t go wrong with this simple new method which has already shown 350,000 people how to play their favourite instruments. Forget the old fashioned idea that you need special “talent”. Just read the list of instruments in the panel, decide which one you want to play, and the U.S. school will do the rest. And bear in mind no matter which instrument you choose, the cost in each case will be the same – just a few cents a day. No matter whether you are a mere beginner or already a good performer, you will be interested in learning this new and wonderful method.

Send for Our Free Booklet and Demonstration Lesson

Thousands of successful students never dreamed they possessed musical ability until it was revealed to them by a remarkable “Musical Ability Test” which we send entirely without cost with our interesting free booklet.
If you are earnest about wanting to play your favourite instrument – if you really want to gain happiness and increase your popularity – send at once for the free booklet and Demonstration Lesson. No cost – no obligation. Right now we are making a Special Offer for a limited number of students. Sign and send the convenient coupon now – before it’s too late to gain the special benefits of this offer. Instruments supplied when needed, cash or credit. U.S. School of Music, 1031 Brunswick Bldg, New York City

Written by kziqi

April 26, 2010 at 1:48 am