Burnett's Brilliant Words
He's known not as a direct marketer but as an "image" advertiser. Instead of the copy-heavy ads with lengthy product descriptions and endless selling arguments that dominated advertising in the 19th century, he developed fresh, simple icons that came to symbolize easy-to-understand product benefits for the busy 20th-century consumer. And for mass market, retail-based products, his approach worked like crazy.
Like many advertising greats, Burnett thought deeply about advertising. I've collected a few of his thoughts for your consideration:
· "Advertising says to people, 'Here's what we've got. Here's what it will do for you. Here's how to get it.' "
· "Anyone who thinks that people can be fooled or pushed around has an inaccurate and pretty low estimate of people - and he won't do very well in advertising."
· "Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people."
· "Fun without sell gets nowhere but sell without fun tends to become obnoxious."
· "Good advertising does not just circulate information. It penetrates the public mind with desires and belief."
· "I am one who believes that one of the greatest dangers of advertising is not that of misleading people, but that of boring them to death."
· "I have learned that it is far easier to write a speech about good advertising than it is to write a good ad."
· "If you are writing about baloney, don't try to make it Cornish hen, because that is the worst kind of baloney there is. Just make it darned good baloney."
· "If you can't turn yourself into your customer, you probably shouldn't be in the ad writing business at all."
· "Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read."
· "Plan the sale when you plan the ad."
· "Rarely have I seen any really great advertising created without a certain amount of confusion, throwaways, bent noses, irritation and downright cursedness."
· "I have learned that trying to guess what the boss or the client wants is the most debilitating of all influences in the creation of good advertising."
· "Regardless of the moral issue, dishonesty in advertising has proved very unprofitable."
· "The greatest thing to be achieved in advertising, in my opinion, is believability, and nothing is more believable than the product itself."
· "The secret of all effective advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures, but one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships."
· "The work of an advertising agency is warmly and immediately human. It deals with human needs, wants, dreams and hopes. Its 'product' cannot be turned out on an assembly line."
· "There is no such thing as a permanent advertising success."
· "We want consumers to say, 'That's a hell of a product,' instead of, 'That's a hell of an ad.' "
· "What helps people, helps business."
· "When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud, either."
· "I have learned that any fool can write a bad ad, but that it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one."
That last quote is one of my favorites. I use it for clients who get a little too enthusiastic with the red pen. I use it for businesses that want successful ad materials "updated" just because the marketing department is bored. And I even use it for myself when I get the urge to tinker with my own work just to "jazz" things up a bit. We all have to remind ourselves now and then that our job is to sell, not to entertain.