Scientific Advertising – Chapter 18: Negative Advertising
To attack a rival is never good advertising. Don’t point out others’ faults. It is not permitted in the best mediums. It is never good policy. The selfish purpose is apparent. It looks unfair, not sporty. If you abhor knockers, always appear a good fellow.
Show a bright side, the happy and attractive side, not the dark and uninviting side of things. Show beauty, not homeliness; health, not sickness. Don’t show the wrinkles you propose to remove, but the face as it will appear. Your customers know all about wrinkles.
In advertising a dentifrice, show pretty teeth, not bad teeth. Talk of coming good conditions, not conditions that exist. In advertising clothes, picture well-dressed people, not shabby ones. Picture successful men, not failures, when you advertise a business course. Picture what others wish to be, not what they may be now.
We are attracted by sunshine, beauty, happiness, health, and success. Then point the way to them, not the way out of the opposite.
Picture envied people, not the envious. Tell people what to do, not what to avoid. Make your every ad breath good cheer. We always dodge a Lugubrious Blue.
Assume that people will do what you ask. Say, “Send now for this sample.” Don’t say, “Why do you neglect this offer?” That suggests that people are neglecting. Invite them to follow the crowd.
Compare the results of two ads, one negative, and one positive. One presenting the dark side, one the bright side. One warning, the other inviting. You will be surprised. You will find that the positive ad out pulls the other four to one if you have our experience.
The “Before and after taking” ads are follies of the past. They never had a place save with the afflicted. Never let their memory lead you to picture the gloomy side of things.
Written in 1923, Scientific Advertising is published here as 21 blog posts – one for each chapter.
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