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Old December 3, 2023, 06:02 PM
Dien Rice Dien Rice is online now
Onwards and upwards!
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 3,350
Default A surprising insight from Joe Sugarman!

Hi Mike,

I also wanted to share this surprising comment from Joseph Sugarman!

It shows the different responses he got when he was selling a jogging machine... first, when showed just the item itself (with no person using it), compared to when he showed the item with someone jogging on it...

Read on...

Vague Descriptions Promote Work

When Hemingway described beautiful women in his books, he was never very specific. He used general terms and let his readers picture them in their imagination.

And so it is with copywriting. If you make your copy too obvious, the reader feels either patronized or bored. Make the reader think to come to a conclusion, and you create a very stimulating mental effect.

Another good example is the experience I had with a jogging machine. It was a small flat platform on which you jogged in place, with a separate unit that had a digital readout showing the distance you were jogging. It was an inexpensive solution that allowed you to jog indoors, I showed a dramatic view of the unit and the readout and explained its use without showing the readers a picture of how it actually looked with somebody jogging on it. I felt that showing a jogger was showing too much and that the drama of the unit was all that was needed to sell it.

It sold fairly well. But then I started getting pressure from my Japanese supplier who couldn't understand why I didn't have somebody jogging on the unit, thereby showing clearly how the product was used. They were convinced that sales would increase. I disagreed but decided to do as they recommended and even put the ad in color, whereas before it had just appeared in black and white. The ad bombed.

(From Joseph Sugarman, Advertising Secrets of the Written Word, pp. 177-178.)

In summary, in his opinion, when you get the prospect to work a little to view (in his or her mind's eye) how it would look while they are using the item, it works better than when you actually show the item being used...

But this is what testing is for!

Keep in mind that this ad ran in the late 1970s...

Here's a link to the original ad (on Pinterest) - this one succeeded...

Here's a link to the ad with a person using it - this one bombed...

And here's what the "jogging computer" actually looked like in real life...

The last image comes from this incredible blog post...

DAK and the Golden Age of Gadget Catalogs

I wrote a separate post about that blog post, here!

Best wishes,


Originally Posted by MikePT View Post
Due the fact I advertise quite a lot of physical products, the visuals are very important.

Question: any references, swipes, you suggest to study to get good information/inspiration on images that sell?

The J.Peterman catalogue popped at my mind now. But they are better on their communicating their own personality, than the images/photos themselves, I believe.

Thank you

Last edited by Dien Rice : December 3, 2023 at 06:35 PM.
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