Individuality In Advertising
( Originally Published 1902 )
You read some advertising that somehow fails to interest. It lacks life, animation, individuality. It has about as much action as a wooden Indian—it fails to arrest your attention rightly because it has a dull, negative, leaden influence.
There are two sorts of advertising-the negative and the positive. The first is lifeless, flat and repels interest—the latter is direct, interesting and sparkling with bright twists and clever thoughts. The positive style of advertising creates an interest in and sells goods—the negative does the other thing.
The matter of injecting individuality into advertising is a subject that has always appeared to me to be a most important one, and this little talk will be an attempt to consider the question.
Go to the theatre. You have no difficulty in telling the "stick " from the actor. The actor has personality, magnetism, individuality-call it what you will—and he invests his lines with the full charm of the character he is portraying. The "stick " walks about, gesticulates and gives his parrot-like talk, and when the curtain falls the audience promptly forgets him. The Thespian with the individuality thrills the audience —his individuality is his principal stock in trade and he man-ages to derive fame and fortune out of it.
Take it in business. A drummer enters your office to talk his goods. There may be nothing startling or unique in either the man's manner, appearance or conversation, but in very short order he manages to fill your office with his individuality and when he goes away there is a large hole in the atmosphere which he has just vacated. Another drummer enters with equally attractive samples and prices but by reason of his dull, lifeless manner he absolutely fails to make an impression. In fact he bores you—repels you.
Commercial travelers understand this perfectly, and always aim to make a direct, positive impression in every interview. The positive is what attracts, warms and makes friends as well as sells goods.
Everybody prefers people who have corners that can be rubbed up against, who are " all there" on certain opinions. The cold, clammy, lifeless negative natures deaden all possible interest.
This applies to advertising.
Certain advertisers have achieved fame because their advertising was so surcharged with their individuality that every ad they put forth was bright and interesting.
What is individuality and how can it be best applied to advertising?
Individuality is a thorough expression of one's own self without fear or favor at all times and under all circumstances. In everyday life most business men possess this individuality, but the moment their advertising pen touches paper, lo their individuality flies out the window or down the back stairs, and what they write is without a particle of their own selves—cold, lifeless, negative. Constant practice and an absolute disregard for the criticism of others—provided you are satisfied in your own mind that you are right—is in my estimation the best method to apply this individuality to your advertising literature.
Self-confidence begets individuality. Slight successes warm the life of self-confidence—this self-confidence and past successes spur one on to greater successes until the goal of ambition is reached.
One must have the creative power in order to fill advertising or any other literature with individuality. This creative power should be cultivated, and is absolutely necessary in preparing good advertising copy.
Take the most successful advertisers of the day and you will note how full their advertising is of individuality and life and interest andall the other attractive qualities which good advertising demands.
Look at Pears' on soaps, Wanamaker's on dry goods, Murphy's on varnish, and so onthrough the long list of bright progressive advertisers, and you will at once note the individuality that crops out from every line they write. Each ad they place reflects the spirit of the concern back of it. The writer is saturated with just the knowledge he requires and his pen moves in exact obedience to his brain, which is teeming with the right ideas.
The first duty of the advertising writer should be, to as nearly as possible understand the business for which he is to write, and then endeavor to interpret the spirit of the business, or in other words to inject into the advertising the concern's individuality and character.
Most advertising is too common-place. It never rises above the ordinary, and goodness knows there is enough of the ordinary. Even a slight sparkle of individuality is enough to lift a single ad above every other ad in a paper, and when this is done a very important step is taken. There is too little thought put into advertising. Do some thinking on your own account—let some of the results of this thinking be boldly put in your advertising. Keep right at it, and in the course of events you will find it will pay you in hard cash, besides giving you a pleasing fame as an advertiser. whose ads are read and remembered, because they are above the ordinary.