Favorite quotations about advertising

I love a good quotation.

Over the years, I’ve collected a few hundred quotes about advertising and selling that are variously inspiring, funny, or instructive. Here are some of my favorites.

“Advertising is totally unnecessary. Unless you hope to make money.”  -Jef I. Richards

“A good ad should be like a good sermon: It must not only comfort the afflicted, it also must afflict the comfortable.”  -Bernice Fitz-Gibbon

“Exuberance is better than taste.”  -Gustave Flaubert

“The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”  -Howard Luck Gossage

“Advertising is salesmanship mass produced. No one would bother to use advertising if he could talk to all his prospects face-to-face. But he can’t.”  -Morris Hite

“When executing advertising, it’s best to think of yourself as an uninvited guest in the living room of a prospect who has the magical power to make you disappear instantly.”  -John O’Toole

“Thinking is the hardest work many people ever have to do, and they don’t like to do any more of it than they can help. They look for a royal road through some short cut in the form of a clever scheme or stunt, which they call the obvious thing to do; but calling it doesn’t make it so. They don’t gather all the facts and then analyze them before deciding what is really the obvous thing, and thereby they overlook the first and most obvious of all business principles.”  -Robert R. Updegraff

“You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going ’cause you might not get there.”  -Yogi Berra

“The headline is the ‘ticket on the meat.’ Use it to flag down readers who are prospects for the kind of product you are advertising.”  -David Ogilvy

“Advertising in the final analysis should be news. If it is not news it is worthless.”  -Adolph S. Ochs

“Let’s say you have $1,000,000 tied up in your little company and suddenly your advertising isn’t working and sales are going down. And everything depends on it. Your future depends on it, your family’s future depends on it, other people’s families depend on it. Now, what do you want from me? Fine writing? Or do you want to see the goddamned sales curve stop moving down and start moving up?”  -Rosser Reeves

“Facts are to the mind what food is to the body.”  -Edmund Burke

“Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.”  -Samuel Johnson

“I have learned that any fool can write a bad ad, but that it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one.”  -Leo Burnett

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4 Responses to “Favorite quotations about advertising”

  1. Louis Burns on October 22nd, 2008 7:38 pm

    Let’s not forget the mantra of all the Madison Avenue advertisers: “Half my marketing works, I just don’t know which half.”

  2. Feedback Secrets on October 27th, 2008 11:45 am

    That Bernice Fits-Gibbon quote is priceless. Thanks for putting this list together.


  3. Cynthia Maniglia on October 31st, 2008 10:37 am

    Lester Wunderman, “Direct marketing is Habama!” That’s the last line of his book, “Being Direct: Making Advertising Pay.” Habama is a Mali word meaning “we have done well together” (we referring to the buyer and the seller).

  4. Rowen on November 15th, 2008 5:41 pm

    thanks for sharing those

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