David Ogilvy’s Guide To Writing Ads Explained Part 22

Element 22 in David Ogilvy’s agency ad of the 1960s is short and simple, but hides the biggest sales secret in the history of copywriting (well, three actually).

He calls it “salvage commercials”, which, out of context, could mean many things. But what he’s really talking about is control.

Ogilvy says that many poorly performing pieces of copy can be saved. The idea is that his target market (people who have paid a fortune for an ad to be made only to see it fail) may be able to salvage their ad (and save money too).

The first hidden message is that if they ditch their current underperforming advertising agency in favour of Ogilvy’s all may not be lost.

The second is that Ogilvy’s agency possesses the know-how to tweak ads and bring out their best (or, in other words, what the idea of a control piece really means – prove your better than the rest – not just the ad, but the agency too).

And lastly, editing matters more than most people realise.

So we get three principles for the price of one in this element, which is why it needed expanding for this series.

Next time you’re pitching for work, ask to see your prospect’s best performing ad, ask how much it cost, then pitch to smash it out of the park.

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