David Ogilvy’s Guide To Writing Ads Explained Part 33

Element 33 of Ogilvy’s guide to advertising opens with: “Story appeal in picture.”

Today we might call it click bait.

Ogilvy picked up an eye patch on his way to an advertising shoot and gave it to the photographer. “Stick this on the guy in the shirt and take some shots”.

And with that one idea he transformed Hathaway shirts from a tiny company into a national brand. It was 1951 and it made Ogilvy and the shirtmaker famous.

As far as I know he never repeated this feat. He admits as much too at the end of this element: “Easier said than done!”

There was a time on Facebook when almost every ad had some unusual element added to it, eg. a red circle highlighting something, or a large arrow pointing to an obscure part of an image.

Whether these tricks worked at the time, only those who tried it found out. But no one has repeated them since (or maybe Facebook got tough and banned them).

So why was this element called ‘story appeal’? After all, there was no story, just a gimmick.

The idea was to cajole the reader into finding out what the ‘story’ was about (even Ogilvy didn’t know, it was just a whim he said).

But like all things advertising, try it, and if it works flaunt it. History tells us we only get one chance.

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