Two Extraordinary Automobile Ads

Maybe it’s time to fire the agency

Take just a moment to read “IN THE NEWS” at right. It contains the entire text of a full-page ad for a Honda car in The New York Times Magazine, a jumbo size 8-3/4” x 10-3/4” Sunday supplement.

Now click on the first illustration at right in the media player and you can see the layout.

The type: 12-point for the subhead in mid-page and 8-point body copy—a teeny, unreadable band of copy across the middle of the page.

Cost of the ad: $107,075.

This Honda ad is a lame attempt to capture the consumer’s attention with a single, ill-written unique selling proposition (USP) that is the entire premise of the ad:

“The Acura car is very quiet.”

The ad breaks every rule in the book.

The Great Jay Abraham
One of the savviest and most fun Energizer bunnies in the world of marketing is an elfin figure who sports a full head of black hair (maybe it’s gray by now) plus a mustache and neatly trimmed beard—West Coast wizard Jay Abraham. He puts on $25,000 marketing seminars and routinely sells them out. If you decide to leave after the first day, he’ll give you all your money back. Few students take him up on it. He’s made zillions for a legion of clients. From Jay’s website:

Let me tell you a story. You may have heard it before, but it’s a classic example of the power of preemptive advertising … Back in 1919, Schlitz beer was the #10 beer in the marketplace. Claude Hopkins [1866-1932], the classic marketing strategist after whom I’ve patterned my life, was called in to salvage the marketing of this #10 beer and lift it to success.

When he walked into the brewery, the first thing he did was learn how the beer was made. He toured the facilities and he saw that Schlitz was located right on the banks of one of the Great Lakes. And even though they were right there with this unlimited water source, they had dug five, 4,000-foot artesian wells right next to Lake Michigan because they wanted pure water.

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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