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Principles of Advertising — Old Masters Series

Published by: David Garfinkel on 11-15-2021

We’re back with an episode in the Old Masters series -- four Old Masters, in fact. These four people are the co-authors of the book “The Principles Of Advertising,” first published in 1915. I ran across it while tracking down something else I had learned about from Copywriting Historian Sean Vosler, who has been on this show before.

The authors are: Harry Tipper, Harry L. Hollingsworth, George Burton Hotchkiss, and Frank Alvah Parsons.

It’s interesting to see how much has changed and how little has changed in the last 100 years. Of course the world has changed and the channels of communication are different. But people are pretty much motivated by the same things they always have been. And what works in ads hasn’t changed that much, either.

So the book we’re going to look at today was published over 100 years ago. It was written as a textbook and that should scare anyone off. But the good news is, two of the authors are ad professionals, and two are professors. The language is a little old-fashioned, but the information is practical and clearly comes out of real-world experience.

The book has 33 chapters! Far more than we could cover in one podcast, or even two. So I selected two big-picture chapters and three chapters about copy, and we have some of the most important and usable points from each one.

Now if you’re a copywriter, you might think the big-picture stuff isn’t really necessary or relevant. And strictly speaking, it’s not. But look at it this way: If you were a skydiver, sure, you’d want to know how to put on a chute, how to jump out of a plane, and how to open your chute well before you hit the ground.

But it would probably also be a good idea to get a general understanding of how gravity works, and that falling objects pick up speed at 32 feet per second every second. Same idea here.

Besides, all this general context stuff will directly help you, as a copywriter, get more sales from your copy. Not the skydiving stuff, but the advertising stuff.

The book is out of copyright now, and available free as a PDF download from Google Books.

Here’s the link:

Keywords: old masters of copywriting

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