Saving The New York Times From Oblivion
[Check out the first and second images in the media player at right to see what I'm talking about.]
The 21st century design model for the Times can be found it its own pages back in 1967.
[See the third image for a full-page, broad sheet New York Times ad pictured and discussed in Ogilvy on Advertising.]
Created in the 1960s for Merrill Lynch by the late Louis Engel, former managing editor of Business Week, here is a textbook example of David Ogilvy's philosophy: "Avoid gray walls of type."
"This advertisement contains 6,540 words," Ogilvy wrote, "the most anybody has used in a single page."
To keep the reader engaged throughout, Engel and his designer used every design gimmick in the book:
- Upper deck
- Lower deck
- Large subhead at right: How to Buy and Sell Securities
- 18 crossheads to introduce individual paragraphs and sections
- Always a space between crosshead and preceding paragraph
- 2 boxed sidebars
Forcing the Reader's Eye to Keep Moving
If interest flags for a moment anywhere in the piece, the reader's eyes will flick to a crosshead nearby and attention is recaptured.
Further, if the reader is interrupted by a phone call or doorbell, touchpoints throughout make it easy to see where to resume reading.
Why Hold This Advertisement Up as a 21st Century Design Model?
Many, many people read every word of it.
At the very end of the ad—in the box at bottom right—is the description of a booklet being offered: How to Invest. The last 5 words of the ad are: "It's yours for the asking."
Responses from 5,033 readers were received requesting 20,000 copies of the booklet.
Quite simply the mesmerizing copy and interruptive design kept readers engaged all the way to the very end.
What's more, no order coupon was used. Readers had to write in on their own notepaper, stationery or postcard. In addition, 947 telephone requests were received and 552 visitors stopped by Merrill Lynch offices to pick up booklets in person.