Thomas Aquinas spelled out the Seven Deadly sins or vitia capitalia (capital sins) in the 13th Century.
Pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth. (I’ve only nailed down four of these within the last hour.)
800 years later, Max Sackheim is sitting in his office on 5th Avenue trying to come up with a great headline for a full page display ad for his ad agency.
What does he do? He smartly swipes Aquinas.
And thanks to Saint Thomas, Max not only gets the seed for a great headline but the whole structure of his ad. Click here for this behemoth of an ad.
A Google search of “seven deadly” mistakes reveals this is heavily swiped.
Here’s a few results I found based on this versatile headline.
- Seven Deadly Mistakes Presenters Make
- Seven Deadly Web Development Mistakes
- Seven Deadly Home Buying Mistakes
This is a headline that’s always going to have juice because of the magic of the number seven and the proof mechanism built into the headline. See Max Sackheim’s earlier home run ad here.
With some stylistic updates, there’s hardly an advertiser today who couldn’t profit from a careful read of this ad.
Ask Yourself These Questions About Your Advertising
1. Does it give the reader a reason for NOT reading?
2. Are we using headlines that whisper sweet nothings?
3. Are we using pictures that do not talk?
4. Is our advertising cursed with cleverness?
5. Does our approach go around Robin Hood’s barn?
6. Do our advertisements leave ’em dangling?
7. Do our advertisements contain “Yackety-Yack” copy?
Why should anyone read your advertising? Is it NEWS? Does it PROMISE anything of importance for the reader? Or is it just “another ad?”
Why should anyone believe your advertising? Are you really convincing – or just “talky?”
Why should anyone do anything about your advertising? Do you give them a chance – or do you leave them high and dry?
Can we get a hallelujah for Max?
Kevin Francis says
Great post, as always. Happen to be writing a “7 Deadly Mistakes” report for a client at the moment so found this very timely.
However (and sorry to be picky) are you sure about Thomas Aquinas being the source of the “7 Deadly Sins”? According to Wikipedia, these were originally “8 Evil Thoughts” identified by a 4th century monk and then revised in 590AD by Pope Gregory into what are recognised as the “7 Deadly Sins”.
Leaving that aside, thanks again for a great post!
Susan Martin says
Great article – I am also guilty of swiping this headline for my free report: The 7 Deadliest Time Management Mistakes http://www.business-sanity.com/time-management-tips/
How are you mate?
I posted this one a while back and have been rotating my content around till I get back in the blogger’s seat…plus I’m a fallen away Catholic. I’ll admit I don’t have the 20 volume Aquinas set on my bookshelf, so we’ll leave it to Wikipedia!
Do you have a link to your report if it’s not top secret.
Thanks for posting the link to your report and delighted you stopped by.
Can anyone guess who Susan’s father is!?
Kevin Francis says
All is well. Hope all is well with your family, especially the new member!
Susan’s father? Gasp! Could it be legendary Mel Martin?
Have a great day!
Michael Hoppal says
Interesting list. I find the fourth in particular, about too clever advertising, to be especially true. I have seen many advertisements, especially lately for some reason, to seem to be making a point nobody else can see. Nonprofits have this problem especially. Either that, or websites that look like they were made in 1997.