12 things marketers can learn from Esquire's archives






Esquire founded in 1933, flourished through the Great Depression and in 1960 was considered on par with The New Yorker as a pioneer of New Journalism . Stories are written in this style combines journalism studies with narrative techniques taken from fiction. Afterward, Esquire The publication prides itself on the stories of Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer, but today the publication is known less for its journalistic relevance and more at the time as its British editor called it. women " glass . ”


With his reputation dwindling, Esquire decided to celebrate the publication of its thousandth issue by moving 82 – year archive of outstanding issues to a new searchable registration site called Esquire Classic . This move is not only a clever way to remind readers of the history behind the name, but it also opens up a low-risk revenue stream.


However, for us, the launch was an opportunity to explore thousands of vintage print ads. We took the opportunity to report on how content marketing has changed over the past century and what marketers can learn from these classic campaigns.



1. Show, don't say



This spreads from September 1933 to the Talon Slide Fastener that makes the product desirable without ever getting into the details of how it actually works. For example, the text on the right describes how the product is “completely invisible” and “removes the ugliness,” but it never gets bogged down in self-explanatory techniques. With the ad's elegant design and fluid writing style, consumers don't have to understand exactly how the lanyard works to want it.


2. Serve for context



By November 1945, World War II had ended for two months, and the United States was over attribution on home page , advertising began to rise again. This Pacific Mills ad highlights the transition back to peacetime and specifically reaches those welcoming returning service members. It capitalizes on a very specific moment and demonstrates a perception of consumer need that won't last long.


3. Emphasize consumer interests



This text-heavy promotion from March 1957 for the Recording Society of America led with the offer of a free record and kept the tone consistent throughout. Each section goes into detail on various consumer benefits, from initial collection records to membership agreements with additional freebies to the option to cancel at any time. The body of content is as brief as a piece of news and never distracts the reader from the offer.


4. Let your audience participate



Reader engagement turns the message into a dialogue rather than a monologue. This Prince Gardner ad from June 1963 invites readers to conduct a side-by-side comparison, only of product attributes — invisible stitching, side pockets, fixed bill dividers — using clear images. Prince Garner makes it easy to understand why your product is better than what your readers already have.


5. Don't be afraid to take risks



Originally created in 1959, Volkswagen's "Think Small" campaign took an industry based on luxury and reimagined it through the lens of simplicity and minimalism . While muscle cars and growing family vehicles previously dominated auto sales, Volkswagen has made the Beetle's size and form a selling point in print ads that make the most of it. white space and thumbnail images, turning those imperfections into the benefit of the consumer. Replicas in a series of newspaper advertisements indicated that the Beetle was a smart economical choice with an advanced engine that did not require frequent oil changes or repairs. This is a calculated risk that has paid off and changed advertising history.


6. Sell stories



Every product has a unique story, but the challenge is figuring out how to tell it in a compelling way. This January 1976 advertisement for Bell & Howell School's homeschooling program is based on a fictional student discovering a passion for electronics, which earns him the respect of his colleagues. me. Readers will then have the opportunity to join their show and embark on a similar adventure. By drawing the reader into the story, this ad takes a rather bland service and frames it as a way for the reader to become famous.


7. Don't be afraid to put your head in the cage



This January 1976 advertisement for the Mercedes-Benz 450 CE does not shy away from the technical specifications most people understand. However, the brand has balanced these complexities with images and subheadings to make the information a little easier to understand. (Think of it as a listicle that predates BuzzFeed by about 40 years.) The overall feel of the ad speaks volumes for quality, inside and out, and technical expertise taken into account. Whether the reader remembers the specifics or not, the broader message is conveyed.


8. Make them laugh



A bit of genuine humor can be worth more than a lot of dry copy. This Waterman ad from December 1988 sticks with the reader. Like a good joke, most of the guesswork is in the setup, and the bonus certainly means that readers won't feel like they're wasting their time viewing this page. For a product like a pen, which isn't quite as sexy, humor removes some form and obscures the marketing angle so a punchline can become a bonus.


9. Play with form



Even in this Lands 'End ad from November 1994, you can see how much fun marketers had with self-promoting the corner of the ad. Here, the brand personifies custom cases, turning them into story characters. It's a creative risk that can make the brand appear immature, but the conversational tone of the copy helps balance this out by emphasizing the bag's high-quality construction and reasonable price. Working in the field of silly satire isn't easy, but works that tackle that problem will instantly stand out.


10. Explore the Possibilities



This July 2001 ad from Apple's "Think Different" campaign demonstrates how the iBook is more than just a computer by listing its other uses: video editing, personal organization, storage photos, etc. It sells a lifestyle, not a product. This type of discovery encourages readers to think about how a product can impact every stage of life, which increases the likelihood that consumers will relate to it to some extent.


11. Don't be afraid of reach



This minimalist ad for Lincoln MKS from August 2008 offers no explanation for its tagline, “Keyless Starships. “This leaves the reader to consider for himself the connection, linking a car to advanced spaceflight technology, regardless of whether it is accurate or not. The power of suggestion can be as compelling — if not more — than a direct approach.


12. Less can be more



This World Wildlife Fund ad from February 2012 is short and to the point. It doesn't need any excuses or any explanation other than the intro and the images just serve to reinforce that. Sometimes the most memorable way to send a message is to be as direct as possible. The last 80 years have changed dramatically in tone and style, but the point remains the same: Make your message valuable.







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