“‘THINK’ — A NEW AD COLUMN,”
Newspaper News and Advertising News, April 18, 1969, p. 1.
A bright new advertising column will bow in in the next issue of Newspaper News on May 2.
It’s called “Think” and is written by John Singleton, national communications director of Singleton Palmer Strauss & McAllan Pty. Ltd.
Singleton is one of Australia’s most talented creative executives, with some top campaigns to his credit. Before becoming a director of SPS & M, he was national creative director for five years of Berry Currie Advertising.
In the past 12 months he has spent extended periods with leading overseas agencies.
“Think” will be both provocative and constructive and will appear in Newspaper News each fortnight.
Make sure you read it in Newspaper News starting on May 2.
Newspaper News and Advertising News, May 2, 1969, p. 1.
John Singleton, the author of a bright, new, authoritative fortnightly column makes its debut in this issue of Newspaper News.
Called “Think”, the column will take a critical but constructive look at the Australian Advertising scene.
Singleton, who is national communications director of Singleton Palmer Strauss & McAllan Pty. Ltd., is one of Australia’s top creative talents, with some outstanding campaigns to his credit.
He has also spent extended periods with leading agencies overseas.
His first column, which discusses the basics of advertising, appears on page 10 of this issue.
John Singleton, “Do Admen Know the Rules?,”
Newspaper News, May 2, 1969, p. 10.
Rules are made to be broken, but first you must know the rules.
Except, it would appear, in advertising.
Today is the day of the clever headline and the brilliant layout.
Today is the day of graphic design and magnificent typography.
And today is the day of the ad that doesn’t sell.
Could it be, could it possibly be, because the people playing the game haven’t taken the trouble to learn the rules?
Now I have a pretty big opinion of our agency and the effectiveness of the work we do.
But the editor has stipulated that I must not (in this column) discuss our agency or our work for our clients.
Therefore I must turn elsewhere to find the work and the rules which demonstrate my point.
So, doubtless suffering mightily by comparison, I would like to look at the type of advertising coming out of the hottest agency in the U.S.A. and see just what Mary Wells is doing that our agencies aren’t doing.
Forget the turn of phrase, and the strength of the layout. These are tools. Available to all selling ideas.
First, always first, we must find: the idea that sells.
Mary Wells finds them. The coloured aeroplanes; the Alka Seltzer stomachs (done at Tinker before she opened); the straight-out product comparison between the new, unknown (Javelin) with the known, market-leader (Mustang).
Look at the ideas behind the brilliant translations.
That’s what this business is all about: Selling ideas.
And surprise, surprise, Mary Wells is proving it almost half a century after the rules were set down by Claude Hopkins and John Caples.
Let’s re-read their principles:
In 1923 Claude Hopkins wrote:
- “Almost any question can be answered, cheaply, quickly and finally, by a test campaign. And that’s the way to answer them — not by arguments around a table.”
- “The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.“
- “Ad-writers abandon their parts. They forget they are salesmen and try to be performers. Instead of sales, they seek applause.“
- “Don’t try to be amusing. Money spending is a serious matter.”
- “Whenever possible we introduce a personality into our ads. By making a man famous we make his product famous.”
- “It is not uncommon for a change in headlines to multiply returns from five to ten times over.”
- “Some people say, ‘Be very brief. People will read but little.’ Would you say that to a salesman? Brief ads are never keyed. Every traced ad tells a complete story. The more you tell the more you sell.”
- “We try to give each advertiser a becoming style. He is given an individuality best suited to the people he addresses. To create the individuality is a supreme accomplishment. Never weary of that part.“
- “Platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck. Actual figures are not generally discounted. Specific facts, when stated, have their full weight and effect.”
In 1932, John Caples wrote 16 formulas for writing headlines. It is surprising how many of Mary Wells’ most successful campaigns follow his “rules”.
Or is it so surprising?
- “Begin your headline with the words ‘How to’.”
- “Begin with ‘How’.”
- “Use the announcement headline ‘Announcing’.”
- “Begin with ‘New’.”
- “Begin with ‘Now’.”
- “Use one word ‘patent medicine headlines’ to seek out small markets of inherent interests: ‘corns, haemorrhoids’, etc.”
- “Begin with ‘Which’.”
- “Use self-profit headlines ‘Make money at home, etc.’.”
- “Use ‘Free’.”
- “Using ‘Amazing’ in your headline.”
- “Begin with ‘Wanted’.”
- “Begin with ‘At last’.”
- “Begin with ‘This’.”
- “Begin your headline with ‘They laughed’.”
- “Begin with ‘To’.”
- “Offer advice.”
Certainly times have changed. And certainly you can break the rules.
But if everyone, like Mary Wells, would learn the rules before they broke them, we would not see so much money being thrown away on campaigns based on form rather than content.
In 1923 Claude Hopkins was paid a yearly salary equivalent these days to A$575,520.
And I have a feeling that the greatest rewards will continue to go to those who “seek sales, rather than applause”.
John Singleton, “Ads lack good selling ideas,”
Newspaper News, May 16, 1969, p. 8.
Since I wrote my first column on the pure basics of this business, I have been chastised by many of the most famous names in Australian advertising.
“You are teaching your grandmother how to suck eggs,” they say.
“It’s all very well, these mail order principles, but everyone knows them today.”
“Today there are greater problems than ever there were in the days of Caples and Hopkins.”
“Today there are problems of marketing beyond the comprehension of the mail order giants of the past.”
And so the quotes continue …
For a while I started to think that maybe my critics had a point. Maybe everyone did know the basics.
Maybe I should take a closer look at the advertising happening here.
Maybe it was better than I thought.
So I picked up a copy of the good old Weekly Women’s and all my doubts were gone.
Australian advertising today is still every bit as lousy as it ever was.
In the whole issue (dated May 14) I could find only seven advertisements which were based on a potent selling idea.
The rest were apparently barren of any selling idea at all.
A collection of the advertisements from that issue are shown here. [Note to Economics.org.au readers: I have decided not to bother reproducing the images.]
I do not intend to judge them.
Rather I ask you to judge them and deduce the selling idea on which they are based.
The difficulty of this task will prove my point.
And having made it I intend in this column, to suggest methods which can ensure our advertising is made more effective: by being part of a meaningful selling idea.
I intend to do this because I honestly believe that today we are breeding a race of ad-makers with absolutely no idea of their real selling function.
They seek applause instead of sales and finish up with neither.
- Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
- Singo and Howard Propose Privatising Bondi Beach
- Singo and Howard Speak Out Against the Crackpot Realism of the CIS and IPA
- Singo and Howard on Compromise
- Singo and Howard on Monopolies
- Singo and Howard Support Sydney Harbour Bridge Restructure
- Singo and Howard on Striking at the Root, and the Failure of Howard, the CIS and the IPA
- Singo and Howard Explain Why Australia is Not a Capitalist Country
- Singo and Howard Call Democracy Tyrannical
- Singo and Howard on Drugs!
- Simpleton sells his poll philosophy
- Singo and Howard Decry Australia Day
- Singo and Howard Endorse the Workers Party
- Singo and Howard Oppose the Liberal Party
- Singo and Howard Admit that Liberals Advocate and Commit Crime
- Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
- John Whiting's Inaugural Workers Party Presidential Address
- John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
- Singo and Howard on Aborigines
- Singo and Howard on Conservatism
- Singo and Howard on the Labor Party
- Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
- John Singleton changes his name
- Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
- New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
- Singo and Howard introduce Rip Van Australia
- Singo and Howard on Knee-Jerks
- Singo and Howard on Tax Hunts (Lobbying)
- Singo and Howard on Rights
- Singo and Howard on Crime
- Singo and Howard on Justice
- Singo and Howard on Unemployment
- John Singleton on 1972 cigarette legislation
- Singo and Howard: Gambling Should Neither Be Illegal Nor Taxed
- Holed up, hold-up and holdout
- The libertarian alternative vs the socialist status quo
- Workers Party Platform
- Singo and Howard Join Forces to Dismantle Welfare State
- Singo and Howard on Business
- Singo and Howard on Discrimination
- Singo and Howard on the Greens
- Singo and Howard on Xenophobia
- Singo and Howard on Murdoch, Packer and Monopolistic Media
- Singo and Howard Explain that Pure Capitalism Solves Pollution
- Singo and Howard Defend Miners Against Government
- Singo and Howard on Bureaucracy
- Singo and Howard on Corporate Capitalism
- The last words of Charles Russell
- Ted Noffs' Preface to Rip Van Australia
- Right-wing anarchists revamping libertarian ideology
- Giving a chukka to the Workers Party
- Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
- "A beautiful time to be starting a new party": Rand fans believe in every man for himself
- Introducing the new Workers' Party
- Paul Rackemann 1980 Progress Party Election Speech
- Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
- Voices of frustration
- Policies of Workers Party
- Party Promises to Abolish Tax
- AAA Tow Truck Co.
- Singo and Howard on Context
- Singo and Howard Blame Roosevelt for Pearl Harbour
- Singo and Howard on Apathy
- Workers Party is "not just a funny flash in the pan"
- Singo and Howard on Decency
- John Singleton in 1971 on the 2010 Federal Election
- Matthew, Mark, Luke & John Pty. Ltd. Advertising Agents
- Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
- The writing of the Workers Party platform and the differences between the 1975 Australian and American libertarian movements
- Who's Who in the Workers Party
- Bob Howard interviewed by Merilyn Giesekam on the Workers Party
- A Farewell to Armchair Critics
- Sukrit Sabhlok interviews Mark Tier
- David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
- David Russell Workers Party Policy Speech on Brisbane TV
- Bludgers need not apply
- New party formed "to slash controls"
- The Workers Party
- Malcolm Turnbull says "the Workers party is a force to be reckoned with"
- The great consumer protection trick
- The "Workers" speak out
- How the whores pretend to be nuns
- The Workers Party is a Political Party
- Shit State Subsidised Socialist Schooling Should Cease Says Singo
- My Journey to Anarchy:
From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
- Workers Party Reunion Intro
- Singo and Howard on Freedom from Government and Other Criminals
- Singo and Howard on Young People
- Singo and Howard Expose how Government Healthcare Controls Legislate Doctors into Slavery
- Singo and Howard Engage with Homosexuality
- Singo and Howard Demand Repeal of Libel and Slander Laws
- Singo and Howard on Consumer Protection
- Singo and Howard on Consistency
- Workers Party is born as foe of government
- Political branch formed
- Government seen by new party as evil
- Singo and Howard on Non-Interference
- Singo and Howard on Women's Lib
- Singo and Howard on Licences
- Singo and Howard on Gun Control
- Singo and Howard on Human Nature
- Singo and Howard on Voting
- Singo and Howard on
- Singo and Howard on Education
- Singo and Howard on Qualifications
- Ron Manners on the Workers Party
- Singo and Howard Hate Politicians
- Undeserved handouts make Australia the lucky country
- A happy story about Aborigines
- John Singleton on Political Advertising
- Richard Hall, Mike Stanton and Judith James on the Workers Party
- Singo Incites Civil Disobedience
- How John Singleton Would Make Tony Abbott Prime Minister
- The Discipline of Necessity
- John Singleton on the first election the Workers Party contested
- Libertarians: Radicals on the right
- The Bulletin on Maxwell Newton as Workers Party national spokesman on economics and politics
- Singo and Howard: Australia Should Pull Out of the Olympics
- Singo and Howard Like Foreign Investment
- Mark Tier corrects Nation Review on the Workers Party
- The impossible dream
- Why can't I get away with it?
- The bold and boring Lib/Lab shuffle
- Time for progress
- The loonie right implodes
- Max Newton: Maverick in Exile
- John Singleton on refusing to do business with criminals and economic illiterates
- Censorship should be banned
- "Listen, mate, a socialist is a bum"
- John Singleton on Advertising
- John Singleton on why he did the Hawke re-election campaign
- Sinclair Hill calls for dropping a neutron bomb on Canberra
- Bob Howard in Reason 1974-77
- John Singleton defends ockerism
- Singo and Howard talk Civil Disobedience
- The Census Con
- Singo and Howard Oppose Australian Participation in the Vietnam War
- Did John Singleton oppose the mining industry and privatising healthcare in 1990?
- Bob Carr in 1981 on John Singleton's political bent
- John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
- John Singleton on elections: "a Massive One-Day Sale!"
- John Hyde's Progress Party praise
- King Leonard of Hutt River Declares Defensive Just War Against Australia the Aggressor
- Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
- Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
- John Singleton bites into Sinclair Hill's beef
- Save Parramatta Road
- 1979 news item on new TV show John Singleton With a Lot of Help From His Friends
- Smoking, Health and Freedom
- Singo and Howard on Unions
- Singo and Howard Smash the State
- Singo and Howard on the big issue of Daylight Saving
- Come back Bob - It was all in fun!
- A few "chukkas" in the Senate for polo ace?
- Country Rejuvenation - Towards a Better Future
- Singo and Howard on Profits, Super Profits and Natural Disasters
- John Singleton's 1977 pitch that he be on a committee of one to run the Sydney 1988 Olympics for profit
- Thoughts on Land Ownership
- 1975 Max Newton-Ash Long interview on the Workers Party
- The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
- The great Labor Party platform: first or last, everybody wins a prize
- The politics of marketing - laugh now, pay later
- Singo and Howard call Australia fascist and worse
- The mouse will roar
- Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
- Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
- Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
- Hancock's playing very hard to get
- Harry M. Miller and The Australian disgrace themselves
- Ocker ad genius takes punt on art
- John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
- John Singleton mocks university students on civil liberties and freedom of choice in 1971
- Murray Rothbard championed on Australian television in 1974 (pre-Workers Party!) by Maureen Nathan
- John Singleton profile in 1977 Australian MEN Vogue
- I think that I shall never see a telegraph pole as lovely as a tree
- Ralph Nader vs John Singleton on Consumer Protection
- John Singleton's first two "Think" columns in Newspaper News, 1969
- Singo and Howard on Ballet
- Product innovation comes first
- Protect who from a 'mindless' wife?
- A party is born
- Tiny Workers' Party gives us a hint
- John Singleton on the ad industry, consumerism and innovation
- Workers Party Economic Policy Statement, December 1975
- Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
- John Singleton and Howard on Government Largesse
- Counterculture must exclude government handouts
- John Singleton's 1974 Federal Liberal Election Campaign Ads
- John Singleton believes in the Workers Party
- Write-up of John Singleton's 1978 speech to the Australian Liberal Students Association
- Singo in 1987: "Joh doesn't go far enough ... I want absolute deregulation of the economy"
- Maxwell Newton chapter of Clyde Packer's No Return Ticket (1984)
- Singo and Howard on Totalitarian Socialism and Voluntary Socialism
- Rip Van Australia on Ripoff Vandals Taxing Australia
- Singo and Howard beg for tolerance
- John Singleton's 1985 advertising comeback
- Singo and Howard Demand End to Public Transport
- John Singleton and Howard on Fred Nile, Festival of Light, FamilyVoice Australia and the Christian Lobby
- Capitalism: Survival of the Fittest
- Return Australia Post to Sender
- Singo and Howard on Public Utilities
- John Singleton and Howard say monarchy should be funded by monarchists alone
- John Singleton on cigarette advertising
- Singo in 1972 on newspapers' demise
- John Singleton farewells Bryce Courtenay
- John Singleton on Australian political advertising in 1972
- Gortlam rides again
- Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
- John Singleton on trading stamps, idiot housewives and government
- 1975 John Singleton-Sir Robert Askin Quadrant Interview
- Singo asks two prickly questions
- VIOLENCE, TV BAN, DRINK - SINGO SPEAKS HIS MIND
- Why John Singleton can't keep a straight face
- Why John Singleton Defends Smokers Rights
- Tony Dear on Paul Krutulis, the Workers Party and murder
- An Ode to Busybodies
- Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
- How many tits in a tangle?
- Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
- John Singleton wants the Post Office sold and anti-discrimination legislation scrapped
- A speech from the Titanic
- A crime must have a victim
- John Singleton vs Australia Post
- Minimum wages the killer
- Has Fraser got his priorities all wrong?
- John Singleton says "the royal family should be flogged off to the U.S."
- John Singleton vs Don Chipp and the Australian Democrats
- John Singleton vs Don Lane
- John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
- John Singleton's 1986 reflection on the Workers Party
- Bob Howard in 1978 on libertarianism in Australia
- John Singleton on the stupidity of anti-discrimination laws
- Thou shalt know the facts ... before thou shoot off thou mouth
- Charity: An Aesop Fable
- Bob Howard announces the Workers Party in freeEnterprise
- New improved moon
- Announcing people ... YES, people!
- Creativity in advertising must be pointed dead on target
- John Singleton on barriers to, and opportunities for, effective communication
- Wayne Garland on John Singleton on Advertising
- John Singleton schools ad course
- John Singleton: advertising awards
- Mr Singleton Goes to Canberra for Australian Playboy
- John Singleton on his TV career for Australian Playboy
- John Singleton sacked for telling the truth about Medicare