Cushioning The Claim

$25,000 Dollars For a Few Hours Work Doesn’t Seem Fair!

This ad had widespread insertions in the early 1980s and was written by one of the most successful operators in the biz-op category, a man named John Chriswell of Sterling Virginia.

Even at the time this ad was on the scene, this was a saturated market and giant claims were a dime a dozen.

How did Chiswell overcome the natural resistance to oversized claims heard again and again?

He cushioned the claim.

Instead of focusing on the advertiser’s income claim, the prospect’s attention was drawn to the “fairness” of earning $25,000 for a few hours work.

To my knowledge, this was a totally new headline treatment and accounted for this ad’s longevity in this market with notoriously short life spans.

Winning at the Races May Not Be Your Idea of Fun, But…

This print control had a four year run in the early 1970s — a long time in a then crowded market, characterized by the total addiction of its constituents to “the races,” as anyone who ever walked past an Off Track Betting location would attest.

Lots of ads made the same promise, but this one got them to respond.

How?

The headline cushioned a ubiquitous claim, “Win at the races,” with the short string of copy: it, “may not be your idea of fun.”

This had the dual advantage of calling out the core prospects, the misfits spending a day congregating around an off-track parlor, as well as attracting opportunity seekers who might be repelled by the horse racing scene.

This ad, though a throwback, is a great example of copy written in the voice of the core respondent, someone who’s spent a lot of time at the track.

“This Is The Best Darn Tomato I’ve Ever Tasted!” was a reliable order getter for years, but then like all ads, eventually started flagging.

How did the advertisers breathe new life into it and keep response flowing?

They cushioned the claim with a simple headline alteration, using the conditional tense.

“This Could Be The Best Darn Tomato I’ve Ever Tasted!” became the new control and the ad kept going.

Most novice advertisers avoid “coulds” and “maybes” because they seem wishy-washy but experienced advertisers know using them in the right place can make claims seem more plausible and increase response.

To download the ads in a single PDF, click here.

4 Responses to “Cushioning The Claim”

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  1. Lawrence Bernstein says:

    BTW, “Winning at the Races May Not Be Your Idea of Fun, But…” was written by Joe Karbo.

  2. Jason says:

    This link is dead. It’s not opening in Adobe. Can you look into it? Thanks in advance.

  3. Lawrence Bernstein says:

    Link’s good.

  4. Mark Wise says:

    “This ad had widespread insertions in the early 1980s and was written by one of the most successful operators in the biz-op category, a man named John Chriswell of Sterling Virginia”.

    I believe that “John Chriswell” was a pseudonym of Robert E. Shindler.

    As in the copyright notice of “$25,000 dollars for a few hours work doesn’t seem fair! (1981)” Robert E. Shindler 1940- (John Chriswell a.k.a. Robert E. Shindler).

    Shindler had a whole bunch of names he wrote under such as Robert Trent, and John Chriswell. I’m not sure how Debra A. Grubbs figures into the picture, but she wrote under a bunch of names over at New Start Publications as well. Maybe another pen name of Shindler – or possibly his wife? I’ve never been able to find out any personal information about who Robert E. Shindler is/was.

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