Glitz, glamour, hope, and resolution: four nouns that may not be the hallmarks of contemporary content marketing, but certainly played a big role in the conversion writing of a bygone advertising age. Of course, those four nouns also encompass everything New Year’s Eve was and is today.
In the push for relationships and meaningful connections with the consumer, many content marketing experts have forgotten about the glamorous (some would say chintzy) advertising angle of the past. Do it today, and it’s kitsch. But back then, it was the way things were done – and it worked!
#1 Pontiac New Year’s Eve Mask Ball (1960)
Admit it. Your New Year’s Eve plans are not this cool: the gleaming body of a jet black Pontiac, a single ribbon fallen across the hood, glamorous costumes glowing in the night, and the sexy black-cat-costumed-girl. No, we can’t all be as cool as Mr. Pontiac Jester in this ad. Not unless we have a Pontiac – at least that’s the message we’re getting from this advertisement, which offers glitz, glamour, hope, and pushes the consumer to make their own resolution.
I like this little piece of conversion writing because the words themselves serve as follow-up questions. The ad copy doesn’t have to tell you that the Pontiac image is attractive (the centerfold does that itself). Instead, the ad copy throws out a little call-to-action on the heels of the image, making the advertisement powerful, effective, and quick to digest.
#2 Lejon Champagne: Drink More Pop (1968)
Throughout the late ‘60s and early ‘70s Lejon Champagne ran a series of advertisements (many of them around the holidays) that reinforced the brand’s image as affordable and high quality. This one does it with just three words. I’ve written in the past about how three words can make a world of difference, and while this Lejon advertisement didn’t have quite the same profit impact as my past example (in the link), it certainly stands as a robust testament to brevity.
While the clever ad clearly targets New Year’s Eve celebrations, its selling points are valid year round (as the ad points out for you). In the disposable click-and-close world of online marketing, many content marketers forget to craft advertising campaigns with lasting power. Don’t limit your conversion writing to the here and now. Give it sustainability.
#3 Wurlitzer: Always the Life of the Party (1947)
The famous Life and Saturday Evening Post illustrator Albert Dorne designed this ad for Wurlitzer, which features more streamers and confetti than I’ve ever seen in such a confined space. This lively advertisement lays it all out for you: why you need a Wurlitzer and what your New Year’s could be like if you had one. Similar Wurlitzer advertisements abound with captions like “24 Top Bands Played at Her Party,” “Having a Wonderful Time,” and “The Magic That Changes Moods.”
The conversion writing is direct (overly-direct for 2013), playful, and buoyant. Perfect for New Year’s!
#4 Smirnoff Vodka: New Year’s Eve in the Attic (1980)
This is hands down my favorite New Year’s Eve advertisement out of the five on this list because it paints the most realistic (and therefore persuading) picture. Let’s be honest: we’re not attending glamorous mask balls, becoming year-round customers of Lejon Champagne, or throwing parties on the scale that Wurlitzer suggests. However, we can buy a bottle of Smirnoff vodka for the low-key evening we already had in mind.
The advertisement paints a cozy image that (may be a stretch but) isn’t a gross distortion of reality, and the copy supplements that strong visual image without resorting to pushy/sales-y techniques. It’s a great mini-paragraph of conversion writing that almost comes off as though it’s genuinely trying to help you, not just sell you a product. Though this advertisement in no way resembles content marketing, it does have some of the sentiment of content marketing at its core.
#5 Standard Motor Company: A Motorist’s New Year Resolution (1936)
Typically we write our own New Year resolutions, but in 1936, the Standard Motor Company decided to write a resolution for all Brits: “This coming year I will buy the car which fulfills this list of requirements –” The ad then lists seven requirements with a final emphasis on the price not exceeding £200.
Again, this ad is not content marketing, but it does exhibit a bullet point technique that looks like a primitive form of blogging. It’s a clever way to get consumers to read specs that would be skimmed over or altogether ignored when presented in standard reading form.
Do any of you copywriters/content marketers have your own favorite vintage New Year’s ads? If so, I’d love to see them. Share them in the comments section below!