Thursday, December 08, 2005

Schwartz's Law of Advertising

I don't know if they're related. But both Eugene Schwartz and Tony Schwartz taught me something every copywriter must know.

Two of the most important books I have read on advertising are Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz and The Responsive Chord by Tony Schwartz. Each--in different words--teaches this fundamental law of marketing communications:

Evoke, don't educate.
You have to connect with what people already know, feel and desire. Don't try to teach them something new. Don't try to talk them into changing. You have to work with the market where it is, and evoke feelings they already have.

Tony Schwartz created the most famous TV ad of all time: the "Daisy spot" that may very well have re-elected President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, even though the ad only ran once! Contrary to most of the later reports, the "Daisy" ad never even mentions Johnson's opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater. But it so effectively played on the public's existing perceptions and fears--that Goldwater, if elected, might use nuclear weapons--Republicans cried "foul"!

Eugene Schwartz's classic Breakthrough Advertising opens with this insight:
The power, the force, the overwhelming urge to own that makes advertising work, comes from the market itself, and not from the copy. Copy cannot create desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exist in the hearts of millions of people and focus those already-existing desires onto a particular product. This is the copywriter's task: not to create this mass desire--but to channel and direct it.
In other words, evoke don't educate!

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