Caples on Copy, published 33 years ago was part of the brilliant “The Wall Street Journal. It Works.” campaign.
This print ad is like getting a bite size version of Tested Advertising Methods. (Note: the 4th edition or earlier of that book is the way to go because later editions include an ivory tower ad man.)
There’s all kinds of timeless wisdom in this ad like:
Clients get tired of ads before the public does.
Overwriting is the key. If you need a thousand words, write two thousand. Trim vigorously. Fact-packed messages carry a wallop. Don’t be afraid of long copy. If your ad is interesting, people will be hungry for all the copy you can give them. If the ad is dull, short copy won’t save it.
Times change. People don’t. Words like ‘free’ and ‘new’ are as potent as ever. Ads that appeal to a reader’s self interest still work. People may disagree about what self improvement is important, but we all want to improve ourselves. Ads that offer news still work. The subjects that are news change, but the human curiosity to know what’s new doesn’t. These appeals worked fifty years ago. They work today. They’ll work fifty years hence.