Today I’m bringing you a marketing masterpiece from the legendary Gene Schwartz.
It’s just as relevant now as the day it started giving hope to desperate smokers.
Besides being one of the highest-paid copywriters in the world back in the 1950s and 1960s, Schwartz was also a world-class art collector and respected Biblical scholar.
AND… he was the author of Breakthrough Advertising, which may be THE most famous and revered book on marketing ever written.
As a beginning copywriter 15 years ago, one of my favorite learning techniques was studying the analysis of great ads.
This particular ad and analysis was a BONUS in our EMAIL ALCHEMY, TRACK 1 course which sells for $997… and is included with EMAIL ALCHEMY “ELITE” 2.0.
So you’re getting a free sneak peek at a tiny piece of this vast training and done-4-you marketing library.
One more thing.
Pay attention to the formatting and layout because they were thinking about the critical visual presentation of the ad WAY before web pages.
So notice the variety… headline, bullets, quotes, subheads, images, white space, copy.
There’s never a dull moment… or dull copy… anywhere.
NOTE: there’s also a link to the larger pdf of this ad so you can read the body copy more easily.
Plus, at the end of the blog, I’ve included a list of headlines from successful Schwartz ads which you should add to your swipe file.
Enough preamble… here’s the bonus… enjoy!
Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists borrow, great artists STEAL!”
That’s why I figure we can get away with a little swiping here and there.
So let’s take a look at Gene’s stop-smoking masterpiece…
One of the first things you notice is that it’s OUTRAGEOUS! The headline starts off with boldness:
I mean, who smokes 4 PACKS a day?
But if you’re a smoker reading the ad, you’re thinking that 1 pack, or even 2, seems pretty minor in comparison.
So not only do you think that YOU could quit, but you feel better about yourself because someone else is worse off than you are. It’s all very subtle.
Then Schwartz keeps piling it on: “…TO ZERO”…and even more, “…IN 4 HOURS!”
And finally, “And he hasn’t touched a cigarette again in 6 years!”
So if you’re wondering, as you read the headline, if the imaginary “he” started smoking again right away, Schwartz counters that objection before it’s fully formed in your mind:
“No way! The guy quit smoking and never started again, and he was much worse off than I am, so it must be possible.”
That’s one of Schwartz’s recognizable techniques. He never lets you catch your breath or take a break from the persuasion.
But there are even more important devices hidden in the headline.
For instance, there are a bunch of specifics… “4 PACKS”… “ZERO”… 4 HOURS”… “in 6 years”… and we’re talking about a specific “he.”
Specifics are more believable than vague promises.
Also notice how visually congruent it is.
The words, “4 PACKS” are front and center, and the picture of crushing out a cigarette INSTANTLY conveys that you’re DONE with the infernal things!
Both “4 PACKS” and the picture also telegraph what the ad is about…so someone who’s just scanning and has any feeling at all about smoking, has their attention drawn to the ad.
Next, Schwartz borrows credibility by immediately quoting a so‐called authority — a book published by the Reader’s Digest Press.
You can read it better on the pdf, but here’s the copy from the ad:
Now, if you want to steal some of the Schwartz mojo, read this headline and the line underneath OUT LOUD.
He has fabulous rhythm and flow and you’ll absorb it through your pores if you read this ad in its entirety OUT LOUD, over and over.
Seriously, over and over (I’ve done this over a hundred times)… which is another key point about using a swipe file.
If you’re copying out classic ads longhand, that’s great.
But you also want to READ THEM OUT LOUD… and with feeling… like you’re an over-enthusiastic actor or actress trying to project all the way to the back of the theater.
One without the other is like building a house and leaving the roof off…it’s a great start but you’re missing something important.
Now let’s check out his subheads… because they’re perfect for “scanning.”
In other words, they give you snippets of the whole story at a GLANCE… so that you (as the reader) get multiple opportunities to be sucked back into the ad.
This concept is also called a “dual track” because you can get the general idea just from skimming… or read the whole thing… or dip in and out depending on what catches your eye.
But if you try to escape, the subheads drag you right back in.
Here they are, all at once:
YOU CAN QUIT SMOKING IN 14 DAYS!
And Let Us Repeat: 14 Days is The
Outside Limit it Will Take You To Stop Smoking
Why? Because This Book Gives you NEW METHODS
That May Startle Even The Most Sophisticated Smoker!
If You Read Nothing Else, Read This:
This is What This Book Offers You:
YOU CAN PROVE IT ALL—GAIN
IT ALL—IN JUST 14 SHORT DAYS!
ONE LAST WORD:
The subheads could sell the book by themselves… so could the headline… so could the testimonials… so could the, “One Last Word,” that Schwartz uses like an extra “P.S.”
Just look at what he’s claiming with the subheads… about “NEW METHODS that you can prove it to yourself in 14 days… and how this information will “startle” sophisticated smokers.
By the way, that’s a pretty devious way to appeal to smokers by calling them “sophisticated” instead of insulting them.
Schwartz is ever-so-subtly appealing to their vanity.
And his use of testimonials is brilliant, too… especially the one that’s dead center in the middle of the page… with the BIG headline to introduce it… almost like that extra “P.S.”…
I’ve used this subhead in e-mails and ads… many times.
Then once you’re sucked in by the subhead, you get the content of the testimonial itself.
I suspect Schwartz wrote it himself because it’s so powerful and taps into both fears and hopes.
This testimonial, by itself, could sell the book because it’s from…
1) the American Cancer Society
2) a medical doctor
3) a medical doctor who’s the former U.S. Surgeon General.
Notice how Schwartz is “milking” every bit of authority out of their credentials.
Also, the first testimonial in the bottom-right corner uses a wonderfully subtle device.
It talks about how the plan in the book “carries” the smoker painlessly.
By using the word “carries,” it implies that they don’t have to do any work… that reading the book just does it for them… floating merrily along on a pain-free joy-ride.
He uses the same trick just before the coupon when he says, “The coupon could very well do it for you!”By using the word “carries,” it implies that they don’t have to do any work… that reading the book just does it for them… floating merrily along on a pain-free joy-ride.
Also… notice the many changes in formatting, so the ad is not visually boring.
You’ve got a HUGE headline, a subhead, deck copy, an image, testimonials, quotes, and a coupon.
And each separate section is capable of selling the book… but when they all come at you at once, it’s very hard to resist… especially if you’ve suffered with some of these great “pain bullets” …
… have suffered horrendous withdrawal symptoms
… started to put on weight, or turn to alcohol
… found yourself overwhelmed by tension, or your “will power” cracking after one or two weeks of sheer torture
… still had to “fight off the craving” months and even years after you had “sworn off” the habit… until finally it took over your life and your health once more—even more powerful, and more deadly, and more disgusting than before!
Another way Schwartz creates credibility is by using specifics: 4 Packs a Day; 6 Years; to Zero.
He also uses specifics when he quotes little segments of the book that occur on exact pages.
When you learn—on page 7—that it does not take willpower to quit smoking.
Schwartz uses the same strategy in the middle column when he says:
When you realize with joy—on page 15—that now…
And one last device he uses to keep the momentum going… it’s in the middle column where he says, “Read this sentence again”…
As I said, this ad deserves multiple readings. You’ll get more and more out of it the more you study the underlying structure and let the subtle persuasion sink in subconsciously.
Read it out loud MANY times…with feeling…and before long, you’ll see its influence oozing out into your own writing… with increased SALES!
OK, that’s it for today, except to reiterate one thing.
And that is to notice how consistently outrageous Schwartz is.
In fact, he’s too over-the top for a lot of markets and times have changed considerably in terms of what you can claim.
But you STILL want to capture some of that “outrageous” flair.
So I’ve included a number of his headlines from ads in other markets for your swipe file.
Read ‘em …study ‘em… the guy was ultra-successful:
Three words from this book saved this man’s arm, and his life!
Unless you are a rare case, you could learn to see better without glasses than you now see with them
The Springtime of A Woman’s Life Should Begin at 55
Pick Yourself a Fortune From the Money Tree…
Do You Have the Courage to Earn Half a Million?
Her Eyesight Was “Born Again”… Returned to Normal in a Single Day.
Turns Up Your “Digestive Furnace” and Burns Flab Right Out of Your Body!
Is It Worth $2 To You To Banish Ugly Cellulite Forever?
Your Body is Twice as Young as You Think!
How to Live to Be a Hundred!
At Last! A Plastic Surgeon’s Diet!
Fat Destroyer Foods!
World’s First Effortless Exerciser!
Use Your Newspaper to Boost Your Child’s Grades!
Don’t Pay One Penny Until This Course Turns You Into a Human Computer!
How to Read People Like a Book!
How to Make Anybody Like You!
And for one final bit of marketing fun…
…Here’s another famous Schwartz ad that’s condensed from a piece that mailed for 10 years with millions of pieces sent.
You can download it here, but before you do, leave a comment below and let us know what you liked most about this article…
…And what ads would you like to see analyzed in the future?