David Ogilvy’s Guide To Writing Ads Explained Part 25

I have no idea why David Ogilvy’s 25th element on how to create advertising that sells is so far down the list.

It’s the first thing we read in any ad (or book, or newspaper come to that).

To be fair though, element 25 kicks off the ‘advertising in print’ section of his epic ad, so starting with… “The Headline” (which is element 25 in case you hadn’t already guessed) makes sense for this section (if not the ad as a whole).

The irony is that the first element is this series about creating ads is not about headlines, but positioning, yet no one would have read a thing if they hadn’t first seen the headline, which for the record was this:

How To Create Advertising That Sells By David Ogilvy

What he really meant though, was this:

How To SELL Advertising That Sells By David Ogilvy

On the subject of headlines, Ogilvy claims that five times more people read the headline than any other part of the copy.

That makes it the golden 20% we’re all looking for if we’re into the Pareto 80/20 principle, but as Ogilvy points out, it also means you’ve wasted 80% of your ad budget if your headline sucks.

There’s a hidden implication here too, and it’s this: if you use Ogilvy, your headline might just get read by ALL the audience.

He’s not done though, he goes on to explain what you have to do if you want to achieve success yourself (using good ol’ reciprocity to show he’s one of the good guys) – ‘include the brand name and the promise in your headline and you won’t go wrong’.

PS. He follows his own advice too by including his name (as the brand) in the headline. Smart thinking.


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