Denny’s Daily Zinger: Great Business Model. Blue Serge Ad.

Denny Hatch: This ad breaks all the rules!

Have a look at The Wall Street Journal ad in the media player at right.
It breaks ALL THE RULES.

The headline: WeatherTech®


Subhead (Deck): Custom Interior Protection for Whatever You Drive

Protection for me or protection for the car?

Illustration: Bullet-proof vests?

  • “Your headline should telegraph what you want to say—in simple language. Readers do not stop to decipher the meanings of obscure headlines.”
    David Ogilvy
  • “Avoid the hard-to-grasp headline—the headline that requires thought and is not clear at first glance.”
    -John Caples

The Tragedy
I went to the, and it’s a wonderful, textbook niche retail site!

  1. Click on “START HERE” button
  2. Give your car’s make, model and year and hit “Submit”

You’ll find all kinds of useful custom-fitted goodies for every make and model from:

  • Acura to Volvo
  • SmartCar to Rolls-Royce
  • 2014 Tesla to 1950 Porsche

floor mats, cargo mats (for the trunk), car cover, auto detailing kit, windshield sunshade, headlight protectors, rooftop carriers, bumper protectors, etc.

  • It talks to you about your specific automobile.
  • The site creates wants (as well as satisfying needs).
  • Order online and save gas and time on a trip to Pep Boys, Goodyear, RockAuto or Napa.
  • 10-year guarantee on products. Detailed FAQs. No guesses on your part.

This Wall Street Journal ad is like peeing in blue serge. It makes CEO David MacNeil feel warm all over and nobody notices.

What a sad waste of money.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His next book will be “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at or contact him at

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

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  • John

    I suspect it works.

  • Thomas (Tom) Smith, III

    Denny, great example of a great product overcoming poor advertising. Most of the time it’s the other way around. WeatherTech must be spending more time on web development and R&D than print ad creation — or, perhaps, they had the digital marketers create the print ad. I’m seeing that more and more with the companies I work with today.

  • Tim Orr

    Good morning, Denny!

    This reeks of being client-designed and client-written. So many times, I had to tell inexperienced clients, "Your logo (or company name) is not a headline." I can see this as being created by the entrepreneur/CEO or his product development department. They always forget what Howard Gossage said, "Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes, it’s an ad." After all, advertising is easy! Everybody knows what’s wrong with every ad. So anyone can do a good ad!

  • Meg Nugent Hodges

    This would have probably gotten me kicked out of Ad school. My undergraduate professor/mentor would have given this a D+ at best. I’d love to know what the actual response rate was for it – I’m familiar with the product advertised and it is a good one. Did a good brand survive a bad ad?