Skip to Main Content

Advertising Prescriptive Literature: 1968-2000

Hartman Center: Prescriptive Literature, 1969-2000

Like Strunk & White’s famous book, this work describes itself as a concise guide to style in copywriting. In the first chapter, the authors name eight elements that exist in some proportion in every successful advertisement:  “Gets attention,” “Focuses on the Customer,” “Stresses benefits,” “Differentiates Your Product from the Competition,” “Proves Its Case,” “Establishes Credibility,” “Builds Value,” and “Closes With a Call to Action.” Each of the subsequent chapters address either a component of the standard print ad (headline, body) or a different form copywriting might take (brochure direct mailer). A notable chapter focuses specifically on the emerging field of internet advertising, offering a wonderful overview of the industry at this transitional moment.

This book opens with motivational advice about getting started in the field of public relations and general points on the conditions of creative thinking. The author draws out a critical distinction between the conventional and unconventional approach to copywriting for television, associating the script and story board with the conventional method and the scenario with a more unconventional method. Like most introductory guides, this one features sections on the philosophy of selling, the value of research, and the best practices for getting a job in the field. As for chapters that deal specifically the with medium of television, the is a notable section entitled “The Magic Shape,” which addresses the most popular means of ordering information in a commercial.  

Structured like a workbook, this text features both instructional content and problem sets for advertising students. In the opening sections, the authors explain the polling strategies that are commonly used to test advertising efficacy. They follow this with a brief analysis of the features that characterize those print ads that receive the highest audience approval rankings. In order to offer a broad view of the profession, the authors include interviews with noted experts on the field. The book concludes with fifty sets of consumer advertisements, each described in terms of its intended message and target audience. Behind each set of ads, the editors include blank space for the student to compose short essays, where they make a case for the value of one advertisement over another.

Which Ad Pulled Best, 1993