Recently I sat on a plane from Phoenix to Austin. I decided to kill some of two hour flight by flipping through online magazines and catalog. You've seen them. They are always stuffed in pocket right before your knees. But what you may not have seen is that virtually all---yes, all---ads violate a secret advertising principle invented more than 100 years ago.
I opened up one of magazines and there was an ad for magician Lance Burton. I know and like Lance. His shows at Monte Carlo in Las Vegas are well worth seeing. The headline for his full-page, full-color ad read, "You will always remember Lance Burton..."
I love this headline. Why? Because it is hypnotic. It is actually a direct suggestion. Read it again and see what I mean. Isn't it a command?
Also notice that it has Lance's name right in headline. The great ad-man David Ogilvy said you should strive to put your products name in headline. The reason being that many people may not read past headline. So if yours helps install your message in your reader's brain, your un-read ad will still have accomplished something. This could be an ego trip for many people, but it works for Master Magician Lance. Why? Because he IS product.
Compare that with another headline I saw. This one clearly violates one of oldest rules in advertising. Even P.T. Barnum knew better than this advertiser, and he died in 1891. The headline on this quarter-page black and white ad simply said, "A Perfect Fit."
Well, what does it mean? Does it engage you? Does it communicate a benefit? If you had to guess what headline was selling, what would you guess? Go ahead and take a shot....
The ad is for luggage! The sad thing is, you have to read entire ad to find that out. And headline isn't intriguing enough---well, it isn't intriguing at all---to get you to read much of ad. So that advertiser just lost several thousand dollars in running an ad that didn't work. The really sad news is that this happens every day, by advertisers who are forgetting a fundamental ancient truth in marketing.