An ad-writer, to have a chance at success, must gain full
information on his subject. The library of an ad agency should
have books on every line that calls for research. A painstaking
advertising man will often read for weeks on some problem
which comes up.
Perhaps in many volumes he will find few facts to use. But
some one fact may be the keynote of success.
This writer has just completed an enormous amount of reading,
medical and otherwise, on coffee. This to advertise a coffee
without caffeine. One scientific article out of a thousand perused
gave the keynote for that campaign. It was the fact that caffeine
stimulation comes two hours after drinking. So the immediate
bracing effects which people seek from coffee do not come from the
caffeine. Removing caffeine does not remove the kick. It does not
modify coffee's delights, for caffeine is tasteless and odorless.
Caffeine-less coffee has been advertised for years. People
regarded it like near-beer. Only through weeks of reading did we
find a way to put it another light.
To advertise a tooth paste this writer has also read many
volumes of scientific matter dry as dust. But in the middle of one
volume he found the idea which has helped make millions for that
tooth paste maker. And has made this campaign one of the
sensations of advertising.
Genius is the art of taking pains. The advertising man who
spares the midnight oil will never get very far.
Before advertising a food product, 130 men were employed for
weeks to interview all classes of consumers.
On another line, letters we sent to 12,000 physicians.
Questionnaires are often mailed to tens of thousands of men and
women to get the viewpoint of consumers.
A $25,000-a-year man, before advertising outfits for acetylene
gas, spent weeks in going from farm to farm. Another man did that
on a tractor.
Before advertising a shaving cream, one thousand men were
asked to state what they most desired in a shaving soap.
Called on to advertise pork and beans, a canvass was made of
some thousand of homes. Theretofore all pork and bean advertising
has been based on "Buy my brand." That canvass showed that only 4
per cent of the people used any canned pork and beans. Ninety-six
per cent baked their beans at home. The problem was not to sell a
particular brand. Any such attempt appealed to only four per
cent. The right appeal was to win the people away from home-baked
beans. The advertising, which without knowledge must have failed,
proved a great success.
A canvas is made, not only of homes, but of dealers.
Competition is measured up.
Every advertiser of a similar product is written for his
literature and claims. Thus we start with exact information on all
that are rivals are doing.
Clipping bureaus are patronized, so that everything printed on
our subject comes to the man who writes ads.
Every comment that comes from consumers or dealers goes to
this man's desk.
It is often necessary in a line to learn the total
expenditure. We must learn what a user spends a year, else we
shall not know if users are worth the cost of getting.
We must learn the total consumption, else we may overspend.
We must learn the percentage of readers to whom our product
appeals. We must often gather this data on classes. The
percentage may differ on farms and in cities. The cost of
advertising largely depends on the percentage of waste circulation.
Thus an advertising campaign is usually preceded by a very
large volume of data. Even an experimental campaign, for effective
experiments cost a great deal of work and time.
Often chemists are employed to prove or disprove doubtful
claims. An advertiser, in all good faith, makes an impressive
assertion. If it is true, it will form a big factor in
advertising. If untrue, it may prove a boomerang. And it may bar
o ur ads from good mediums. It is remarkable how often a maker
proves wrong on assertions he has made for years.
Impressive claims are made far more impressive by making them
exact. So many experiments are made to get the actual figures.
For instance, a certain drink is known to have a large food value.
That simple assertion is not very convincing. So we send the drink
to the laboratory and find that its food value is 425 calories per
pint. One pint is equal to six eggs in calories of nutriment.
That claim makes a great impression.
In every line involving scientific details a censor is
appointed. The ad-writer, however well informed, may draw wrong
inferences from facts. So an authority passes on every
The uninformed would be staggered to know the amount of work
involved in a single ad. Weeks of work sometimes. The ad seems so
simple, and it must be simple to appeal to simple people. But back
of that ad may lie reams of data, volumes of information, months
So this is no lazy man's field.
Return to Book Intro and Chapter Index: Scientific Advertising
Continue to the next Chapter: Advertising Strategy