Scientific Advertising: Picture This
Just like pictures of Santa have changed since 1923, so have the ways we use pictures in advertising. There’s Claude Hopkins’ way and most everyone else’s. This week’s chapter of "Scientific Advertising" — Art in Advertising — highlights the difference between the two schools: direct response and branding.
Nowhere else is an image felt to be so important as in branding; nowhere else can image be so constrained as in direct response. Hopkins hogties pictures because he is obsessed with sales. He wants advertising to do nothing but sell, and he wars mightily against advertising brand image for it’s own sake.
My caveat: Branding advertisements can certainly influence market share. But you can’t always quantify it in the same rigorous way that Hopkins demands for immediate sales are not exactly the point. Making a solid customer is more straight forward than building a space for your brand in the mind and life of multitudes — whether they buy or not.
Hopkins hates it. He decries art for art’s sake, and assaults a brand doing so: “Use pictures only to attract those who may profit you. Use them only when they form a better selling argument than the same amount of space set in type.” Like every word — the art must make someone buy. If doesn’t it’s a wasted effort.
Turns out, if you just want to build your brand but not sell with an ad, you’re doing something very modern. Here is background on branding. We take it for granted. But when I grew up, no one south of a cattle ranch said I should brand anything. Certainly not myself. A ranch foreman once told me he felt sweet nostalgia at the smell of burning animal hide during a branding ... it reminded him of cowboying with his grandfather. It was odd then. But today, everyone with a social media account is after the same odor and assumes it’s normal behavior.