David Ogilvy’s Guide To Writing Ads Explained Part 21

So what do you know about the use of cartoons and animations to sell stuff? The internet marketing brigade would have us believe that they’re the bees knees when it comes to selling online.

There are hundreds and hundreds of video apps (with more appearing every month). Yet how many animated ads are we seeing? How many doodle style ads? How many explainer ads?

David Ogilvy reckoned 5% of TV ads were animated (this was in the 1960s). In element 21 he says this: “The consumer cannot identify herself with the character in the cartoon” (the “consumer” he was talking about was the “housewife”, so he used pronouns like “she” or “her” because he knew it would align with the male executives he was selling too).

Then having said that, he introduced a twist and said “[but] animation can be helpful when you are talking to children” (and he underlined the word children in the ad – which is the only word he underlined in the 2000+ words of the ad’s body text – the other underlined words were in headings: sells, television, print, all).

The point of element 21 is to introduce their partners in the USA (Carson/Roberts who “have addressed more than 600 commercials to children”).

I think he’d one too many whiskies by this point (just over half way through the ad), but with another 17 elements to go I’m certain he’s not going to end with a whimper. Watch this space.

PS. Next time you watch ads on TV, turn off your internal consumer mode, turn on your observer mode. Give some thought to who is being targeted, name the big idea, name the problem being solved, the solution, the USP, the offer, and the emotion being evoked. Then think about the style: is it animation, real-life, story, abstract, comedy, hybrid, or something else. And remember this, someone somewhere was paid a good deal of money for every ad you see.


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