How many direct mail packages in the alternative medicine market can boast two decades of mailing?
This one, written by Eugene Schwartz and first mailed in 1979, had more stamina than the Energizer Bunny.
It finally stopped mailing in the early 1990s, but not before it raked in untold millions.
The ad sold the book by Dr. Stephen T. Chang: The Book of Internal Exercises.
It’s not to be confused with the ad he wrote for Rodale’s The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing, which sold two million copies of that $25 book — though I often confuse them myself.
If you want to really understand what it takes to create a winner, then this package is worth your while examining. Here it is in all its glory with the teaser copy on the front and back of the envelope, 6-page sales letter, lift letter and reply card. (10-page, 2.2 megabyte PDF)
A big thank you to my friend in Switzerland, Christian Godefroy, for sending it to me. Christian was a colleague and confident of Eugene Schwartz’s for over a decade.
To many, this package looks like a barrage of unbelievable claims:
- “How Modern Chinese Medicine helps both men and women BURN DISEASE OUT OF YOUR BODY Using nothing more than the palm of your hand!”
- “Flushes Fat Right Out of Your Arteries”
- “How To Rub Your Stomach Away”
Throughout his career, there have been a fair share of critics who attacked Gene’s advertising approach. The main criticism was he “hid” under 1st Amendment protection offered to authors of books by deriving their claims in his ads. Though his ads may have been challenged, I don’t know of a single instance where even one was judged to have been anything other than legal.
Gene not only believed in Dr. Chang and the ad he wrote for his book, but credited him with saving the use of his arm after suffering a massive stroke. As he mentions in this interview from the now defunct publication, The Capitalist Reporter, he never wrote an ad for a bad product and even turned down a huge fee when he was flat broke because he did not believe in the promotion.
I doubt the ad would do so well today.
Schwartz’s style of “giant claim” copy has been mimicked so often, the market is less sensitive to it. Additionally, the alternative medicine market has mushroomed many multiples more than where it was in the 1980s and 1990s.