Why Studying Old Ads Are Important & How It Helps You Improve Your Copywriting.

If you decide to learn advertising, sales and marketing, you need to study the old guys and what they’ve done.

It’s disingenuous thinking old things have passed away ๐Ÿ˜

And here’s why:

After writing out this “Don’t Do It!” ad used sometime around 1860 by hand, I decided to study it and see why it worked.

Niche: Consumer Goods

Headline: DON’T DO IT!

It’s a WARNING SIGN which means it’s attention-grabbing & curiosity laden.

Prospect sees it and asks themselves “I shouldn’t do what?”

The other subconscious question is, “why should I not do it?”

Consequence? Hooked.

Also, as kids aged 5, human beings are used to being told ‘no’ as much as 10 thousand times.

Compared to ‘yes’ a thousand times.

So, the word ‘No’ subconsciously takes them on a trip to their childhood when they were seeking Daddy & Mummy’s favour ๐Ÿ˜

So Robert Greene ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฟ

Don’t Do It uses reverse psychology on the ad reader tapping into a phenomenon called the Forbidden Fruit Syndrome (I coined this ๐Ÿ˜).

To explain this, imagine if God had told Adam & Eve to eat only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden and no other ๐Ÿ˜

They would have most likely eaten every other fruit out there and avoided the forbidden one.

And that’s the thing with human beings – they do what you tell them NOT to do.

It’s the reason why ‘illegal’ stuff & banned substances sell like crazy e.g drugs, alcohol, sex etc.

Look at this logo closely, if you’ve seen the movie Compton, you’ll understand.

This is primarily one of the reasons why rap music blew up like crazy.

Forbidden Fruit Syndrome lends itself to our deepest desires as human beings – curiosity.

We want to know.

We want to know why.

Then the lead goes off listing a couple of things you shouldn’t buy.

This does 2 things:

1. It implants authority from the ad owner into the prospect’s head.

It also holds their interest.

Because if you’re telling me I shouldn’t do this, I’ll be waiting for the WHY.

2. It’s also polarizing.

(How dare you tell me what to do? Or what not to do?)

People DON’T LIKE TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO in an obvious manner.

But they love to be seduced and led.

Now this ad tells them what NOT to do, gets them angry while seducing them into doing what was planned all along by the ad owner – to get them TO DO what he wants.

Genius stuff. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿฟ

In fact, don’t buy anything for yourself or boy until you have seen our stock” breaks down the prospect’s buying decision into easily manageable steps.

Doesn’t tell you to buy anything.

Instead, it puts the decision in your hands – “until you have seen

No commitment required.

The prospect tells themselves “I don’t need to buy anything. I can just go there and feed my eyes.

From feeding their eyes, they essentially start feeding their brains.

And they’re READY to buy at this point.

It just becomes a matter of how the offer is presented.


There’s a phenomenon called Reticular Activating System (RAS) in your brain.

The way it works is it makes your brain obsessed with incomplete thoughts, curiosity & questions.

You want to get to the root of anything you don’t understand.



Because we have anything you wish. The stock is the largest, the styles the best and prices low as can be found anywhere.

Benefits. Benefits. Benefits.

What your prospect looks out for any time they see a sales & marketing material.

People are inherently selfish.

Know this

And to round it off.

George Muse Clothing COMPANY gives a vibe of authority & establishment.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a small shop or a face-me-I-face-you.

The prospect will have to confirm.

But that’s until when they get there ๐Ÿ˜


Mission Accomplished.

The first step in any online sales process is to get your prospects to CLICK.

Once you do your job to get them to click, the buying decision is cut by half.

This is what they do here.

Get the prospect to our store first, we’ll handle it from here.

Brilliant ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿฟ

PS: As I’ve said before, this is my breakdown of this sales letter. I probably missed some things too and youโ€™re free to point them out.

P.P.S: As much as I call myself a copywriter, like other copywriters, I miss some of these things while writing too.

My breakdown of this letter isnโ€™t to tell you how to write or what to do.

Itโ€™s simply to reinforce what Iโ€™ve been hearing for the last year.

And hopefully get better at this thing of ours.

I hope this helps you.

If this post gets serious engagement, I might be tempted to do this kind of breakdown every week.

So, like, comment and share so other people can learn.

Also, donโ€™t forget to follow me on Twitter.

Go here:ย twitter.com/ucheokorolive

Thatโ€™s where I drop other powerful insights in sales and marketing you wonโ€™t find here.

If youโ€™re interested in this letter, hereโ€™s a link to it: https://swiped.co/file/dont-buy-ads-1860-1880s/

Uche Okoro

Writer. Sales & Marketing. Business & Investing Afficionado.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *