The Advertising Wisdom Of Bill Bernbach

Derrick DayeOctober 16, 20102 min

The Advertising Wisdom Of Bill Bernbach

William ‘Bill’ Bernbach died this month back in 1982. He left an indelible mark on the advertising industry. Of his many industry-changing accomplishments he is credited with igniting what would come to be known as the ‘Creative Revolution’ (of the 1950′s and 1960′s). The ‘Creative Revolution’ was about creating a more informal and egalitarian atmosphere / work model in the ad agency so as to encourage creativity. 

Marketers will be inspired by his brilliance through some of his most famous quotes…

“A great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it’s bad.”

“Advertising doesn’t create a product advantage. It can only convey it.”

“Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.”

“An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.”

“Because an appeal makes logical sense is no guarantee that it will work.”

“Forget words like ‘hard sell’ and ‘soft sell.’ That will only confuse you. Just be sure your advertising is saying something with substance, something that will inform and serve the consumer, and be sure you’re saying it like it’s never been said before.”

“I warn you against believing that advertising is a science.”

“If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic.”

“In advertising not to be different is virtually suicidal.”

“In communications, familiarity breeds apathy.”

“In this very real world, good doesn’t drive out evil. Evil doesn’t drive out good. But the energetic displaces the passive.”

“It is insight into human nature that is the key to the communicator’s skill. For whereas the writer is concerned with what he puts into his writings, the communicator is concerned with what the reader gets out of it. He therefore becomes a student of how people read or listen.”

“Just because your ad looks good is no insurance that it will get looked at. How many people do you know who are impeccably groomed… but dull?”

“No matter how skillful you are, you can’t invent a product advantage that doesn’t exist. And if you do, and it’s just a gimmick, it’s going to fall apart anyway.”

“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”

“Our job is to bring the dead facts to life.”

“Our job is to sell our clients’ merchandise… not ourselves. Our job is to kill the cleverness that makes us shine instead of the product. Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message.”

“Properly practiced creativity can make one ad do the work of ten.”

“Properly practiced creativity must result in greater sales more economically achieved. Properly practiced creativity can lift your claims out of the swamp of sameness and make them accepted, believed, persuasive, urgent.”

“The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.”

~ Bill Bernbach (August 11, 1911 – October 2, 1982)

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