How to Sell a Silver Spoon in 1967 (or 2016)

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Last Saturday, me and a couple friends walked into a local thrift shop.

Inside the store, there were stacks of old books, magazines, furniture, and clothes for sale. Naturally, I gravitated toward the books. But, it was the magazines that caught my eye.

They were huge! (11.5×13.5) [pics below].

I started flipping through one of them and was surprised at how compelling some of the old ads used to be.

One by one, my friends surrounded me, becoming as engrossed in the vintage ads as I was. Some (read: most) of the ads would be considered sexist by standards today. We all had an awkward laugh.

I ended up buying a couple magazines from the late ’60s just so I could show you.

Take a look at this ad below selling silverware and tell me what you think. 

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This ad is from a 1967 September issue of Chatelaine magazine. The ad is by 1847 Rogers Bros. Silverplate and quite frankly, it’s boring.

The headline is underwhelming, the photo is vanilla, the copy wreaks of anxiety — which I think was the point, “After all, once you decide on a pattern, you have to live with it forever.”

Forever is a long time, and I can’t imagine this ad selling well today with commitment-phobic millennial newlyweds.

Lastly, the call to action is passive and weak. “Make your choice. And then drop in to your favourite jeweller or department store for an even closer look. We think you and your 1847 Rogers Brothers silverplate will get along beautifully.” My eyes are rolling.

OK, now take a look at this other ad, in the same magazine, by a different silverware company and tell me what you think.

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What a difference.

The headline invokes curiosity and cheeky humor. Who’s Jessica? Everyone knows the expression, “Born with a silver spoon in your mouth.” “Jessica was born with an Oneida spoon in her mouth.” The brand’s name is in the headline, and without explicitly saying what kind of spoon, the reader can guess what the ad is selling.

The image of Jessica is arresting. Beautiful blonde with nice teeth and a good-looking piece of silverware in her mouth — hard not to stop and look. Compare this photo with the five pieces of silverware on the doily-covered table in the 1847 Rogers Bros. ad — there’s no comparison.

The copy is biased — which is good. Jessica is a good-looking newlywed and the ad tells you the exact model of silverware she likes and uses. Self-conscious newlyweds will probably buy the same model as Jessica.

The call to action tells you what to do and what benefit you’ll receive if you do it: “Send for a Solid Stainless spoon of your choosing and admire its beauty in its proper setting: on your table.”

Also, the call to action makes a low-barrier offer. Pay for shipping (25 cents) and we’ll send you a silver spoon.

How many digital marketers are giving away free copies of their books and asking you to pay S+H, right now? Off the top of my head… All of them.

It’s clear which ad probably sold more silver spoons. The main takeaway here is the second ad is timeless and easily replicable in the digital age. In fact, we’re already seeing copycats.

Bloomberg published an article yesterday titled, “Why Snapchat’s Influencer Economy Runs on Hot Tubs, Selfies, and Whey Protein.” The article is about how Snapchat is a medium that Instagram models and influencers can leverage to gain more followers. More followers = more ad dollars.

When you think of why advertisers will pay between $100 – $100,000 for an Instagram-sponsored post versus advertising solely on their own Instagram accounts, it’s because influencer’s are not just selling the advertiser’s product; their also attaching their personal brand, their face, their boobs, their butt, their biceps, their abs, their hair, their lifestyles to the products.

If you are an advertiser, answer this question:

Would you rather sell a table full of cutlery or sell a Jessica with a mouth full of cutlery?

Nick Papple
Managing Editor
Success Formula Daily

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