How to Write an Ad
Being an advertising junkie, I am fascinated by very good ads for bad products and very bad ads for good products.
The full-page, black-and-white ad on page 33 of the front section of The New York Times this past Thanksgiving morning stopped me cold—the publication announcement of what’s probably a very great, limited edition book.
When you are spending $121,500 for a full-page ad in The New York Times to reach 1.09 million readers, it probably makes more sense to slavishly follow the rules of advertising than to break them all, and raise more questions in the reader’s mind than to provide answers.
Some of the world’s greatest Renaissance paintings are miniatures commissioned by very wealthy patrons for small books—bibles and prayer books, such as breviaries and books of hours—that could be used for devotionals at home or easily transported when traveling.
These tiny paintings can have all of the power and beauty of their larger cousins that hang on the walls of the great museums of the world. Because they’ve been preserved in bound books and aren’t subject to sunlight and grit of the open air, the colors can be incredibly bright and the gold as shiny as the day they were painted.
Such a work is the Isabella Breviary, created in Bruges, Belgium, at the end of the 15th century and presented to Queen Isabella of Spain in 1497.
It was illuminated by three iconic artists of the period: the Master of the Dresden Prayerbook and Gérard Horenbout, as well Gérard David, whose work hangs in premier museums in the United States, France, England, Germany, Holland and Spain.
The subject of the ad is a hand bound facsimile of this masterpiece in a limited edition of 987 copies.
The New York Times Ad