Famous Last Words: The Ad That Built Factories
Doyle Dane Bernbach Founder Bill Bernbach famously said, "Good advertising builds sales. Great advertising builds factories."
Bernbach's seemingly fanciful quote is actually based on fact. The 1923 ad was written by George Cecil of N.W. Ayer & Son, and not only turned Canada Dry into a household brand of ginger ale, but was responsible for the construction of two new factories.
"Tell a story if possible," wrote the late freelance copywriter Harry Walsh. "Everybody loves a good story, be it about Peter Rabbit or King Lear. Stories get read." And the headline for this announcement of ginger ale invites the reader to settle back for a really good story: DOWN from CANADA came tales of a wonderful beverage.
"On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy," wrote ad legend David Ogilvy. "When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar."
OK, so Cecil blew his 80 cents and got the reader's attention with his headline. Now what? The next step is a powerful lede. As the great Vic Schwab wrote in his classic "How to Write a Good Advertisement:"
Start immediately to carry out the reward-for-reading promise made in your headline … Remember that your readers will not go far along with you unless your first paragraph holds the attention and interest which your headline and layout have aroused.
Cecil's subhead: How Canada's famous old ginger ale was brought to this country and adopted by New York's most exclusive clubs, restaurants and hotels. Now sold in this city.
The body copy is as delicious as the taste treat it promises. Here's how it starts:
For years and years, visitors to Canada have come back with tales of a wonderful ginger ale. They described its exquisite flavor—they told of drinking it in the Houses of Parliament in Ottawa, in the residence of the Governor-General, and in the Royal Canadian Yacht Club.
Friends would listen and smack their lips and ask if there wasn't some way to purchase it in this country. And the answer was always "No."
Then in 1921 the Canadian owners were induced to open a selling agency in this country and "Canada Dry," for the first time, was officially brought to the United States.
A carload was sold the very first week, without a line of printed advertising, and in two short years "Canada Dry" became the accepted ginger ale for smart functions in the most exclusive clubs, hotels and restaurants in New York. …
By the end of the ad, readers were not only salivating for Canada Dry Ginger Ale, but also were invited to clip out an early cents-off coupon worth 10 cents.
In his splendid book, "The 100 Greatest Advertisements," Julian Lewis Watkins describes how the ad first ran and within 90 days the factory was on overtime with orders totaling five to 10 times the capacity of the New York plant.
A new factory was contracted for in Hudson, N.Y., but it was quickly deemed insufficient and a second unit was built.
To see the full ad, go to: http://url2it.com/cknl. Click on the ad and it will enlarge, so you can read it.
Denny Hatch is a freelance direct marketing consultant and copywriter, and author of the e-mail newsletter, Denny Hatch's Business Common Sense. Visit him at www.businesscommonsense.com or www.dennyhatch.com, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.