More About Clothing Advertising
( Originally Published 1902 )
To many minds the process of preparing advertisements is a mystery. To others it is not so much a mystery as it is the requirement of a certain order of ability, which includes originality, horse-sense, easy writing, a good knowledge of type and a better knowledge of human nature.
In this sketch we are going to show how clothing advertisements impress one in various parts of this broad country of ours, and if the reader cares to follow, he may pick up a point or two.
What is good clothing advertising in Boston is not good clothing advertising in Savannah—what is good in New York is not good in Denver, and so on. Wherever you are you must adapt your advertising to your audience. You must study the people to whom you wish to speak. You must consider, analyze, dissect your audience; find out whether it is rich or poor, easy-going or aggressive, wide-awake or drowsy, and suit your advertising bill of fare accordingly.
That is the reason the papers of the different parts of the country vary. At the first blush it would seem as though a paper was but a reflex of the editor's point of view, but a little study will show that it is a reflex of its clientage's. Editors insensibly learn to appreciate the views of their subscribers and they supply the newspaper most demanded. Just so with the advertisement writer. He must first study the tastes of his audience before he can hope to win results from his advertising.
Let us begin right at home, here in New York. It is admitted on all sides that the New York clothing advertisements are models of good advertising. They are short and sweet, succinct and sensible. They get to the point without waste of words.
The writers of these advertisements are sensible enough to appreciate the New York audience, and they are able enough to give New Yorkers the proper sort of advertising.
New Yorkers are intelligent' and discriminating. They give thought to their wearables, and they do not care to waste time in arriving at conclusions in buying the same. In consequence the New York advertisements are brief, specific, and to a great extent, honest and sincere.
In Philadelphia they are more generous with the flow of language and with space, possibly because space is less costly than in New York. The clothing advertisements of Wanamaker & Brown are splendid examples of good advertising, and typical of the Philadelphia style.
Chicago clothing advertisements take up still more space. Atwood's advertising is an exception. It is modeled after the Rogers-Peet, New York, style.
The farther west we go the more likely are we to meet with sensational clothing advertising. Most of the clothing advertisements in Detroit, are splendid examples of a medium between the eastern and western styles. They are forcibly written, well displayed and nicely illustrated.
The advertisements of the Nebraska Clothing Co., in Omaha and Kansas City, are unique and original. They are very catchy and immensely successful. People out there have learned to smile when they run across one of them, because there is generally more fun in it than in the regular humorous column. It usually opens with a humorous talk on the political questions of the day, a play upon words or a joke.
In Denver is to be found the highest development of the artistic-sensational style. Life out there in a high altitude means a rapid, restless gait all sorts and conditions of people flock there for health and profit, and advertising should be strong and vigorous.
In Salt Lake City, Butte, Tacoma, Portland and the other cities west of the Rockies will you find the sensational clothing advertisement flourishing in all its glory. And it has a good excuse for flourishing. Much as we fin-de-siucle advertisement writers would like beautiful language, beautifully diplayed and beautifully illustrated, we should not overlook the fact that the sole object of an advertisement is to sell goods, and for that purpose must get right down to the reader's level and shout right loud in his ear in true western fashion the virtues of the values being offered.
Two opposite processes are commonly used in advertisement writing—the positive or building-up process, and the negative or tearing-down process. In the first drift every happy thought and good phrase. Then comes the tearing down, when a word here, an idea there, is coldly criticised and perhaps eliminated.
To the New Clothing Advertiser.
Make up your mind on several things at the outset. Make up your mind on the advertising outlay—but do not necessarily confine yourself to a certain expenditure every month—leave a slight margin—a sort of elastic margin which you can spend or not as conditions demand. Make up your mind that you will be a persistent, optimistic advertiser rather than a spasmodic pessimist. Make up your mind to get a certain space at regular times in your local paper. Make up your mind to have about four splurge sales per year, each of which, if properly pushed, ought to last at least a fortnight. Make up your mind to have your ads honest, clear, clever and rightly typo-graphed and properly illustrated. Buy space on long term contracts, and get the benefit of all discounts by so doing, and see that your local paper treats you right on reading notices. Good reading notices represent gilt-edge advertising, and I am surprised that clothing advertisers are so slow on this point.
Never try to advertise clothing without cuts. Some advertisers get along without cuts, and they appear to do it successfully, but I cannot help thinking that they would do it more successfully if they used cuts. Nothing will attract the eye to a printed page quicker than an illustration. Through a cut the mind receives an instantaneous and vivid impression of a garment. Double the cut space in simple type could not do this.