David Ogilvy’s Guide To Writing Ads Explained Part 28

We’ve talked about headlines a few times during this series on master copywriter David Ogilvy, but element 28 beats them all (when it comes to sales).

Back in the 1960s, if you wanted a message sent fast, you sent a telegram. The problem with telegrams is that they charged by the word (and it wasn’t cheap).

As a result, two things happened. People used the minimum number of words possible, and they chose shorter words because it made it clearer (even though they could use words up to 15 characters long).

Element 28 tells us to do the same when writing headlines. Keep it simple. As Ogilvy says: “Readers do not stop to decipher the meaning of obscure headlines”.

I see this all the time in our sister group, Science of Copywriting Copy Critique Board. So it’s still a timely and great reminder even today.


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