A HUGE thread of Bill Bernbach’s incredible advertising wisdom.
Bill Bernbach is the father of modern advertising. Much of the current structure of the ad industry and the values we try to instill in our work were greatly influenced by him. Most of us wouldn’t be here if not for Bernbach.
1) “I warn you against believing that advertising is a science.”
2) “We don’t do just snob ads, we don’t do just short copy ads, or just long copy ads, or any particular style. If you want to know what makes DDB ads, it is a fresh and original idea that conveys the advantage of the product memorably. We have no formula.”
3) “No matter how skilful you are, you can’t invent a product advantage that doesn’t exist. And if you do, and it’s just a gimmick, it’s going to fall apart anyway.”
4) "Our campaign is not that we are No. 2. Our campaign is that we try harder!"

Bill Bernbach explains why the Avis “We Try Harder” campaign was so successful.
5) “I don’t think any art form can have a formula. And we consider advertising an art, not science. When you practice something as an art form, you can’t have a formula, because you take all life out of it.”
6) “To succeed, an ad (or a person or product for that matter) must establish its own unique personality, or it will never be noticed.”
7) Bill Bernbach on what he looked for in creative people.
8) “It’s not how short you make it; it’s how you make it short.”
9) “We don’t ask research to do what it was never meant to do, and that is to get an idea.”
10) “The difference between the forgettable and the enduring is artistry.”
11) "I don't want academicians. I don't want scientists. I don't want people who do the right things. I want people who do inspiring things.”

This is part of the inspiring resignation letter Bill Bernbach wrote when he quit Grey to start DDB in the late 1940s.
12) “There is no such thing as a good or bad ad in isolation. What is good at one moment is bad at another. Research can trap you into the past.”
13) “We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it. We are so busy listening to statistics we forget we can create them.”
14) “Be provocative. But be sure your provocativeness stems from your product. You are not right if in your ad you stand a man on his head to get attention. You are right if you have him on his head to show how your product keeps things falling from his pocket."
15) “The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.”
16) “We think we will never know as much about a product as a client. After all, he sleeps and breathes his product. By the same token, we firmly believe that he can’t know as much about advertising. Because we live and breathe that all day long.”
17) "More and more I have come to the conclusion that a principle isn't a principle until it costs you money."
18) Bill Bernbach explains the success of the Clairol “It Lets Me Be Me” campaign, that transformed the hair colouring category in the 1970s.
19) "There are a lot of great technicians in advertising. And unfortunately, they talk the best game. They know all the rules… but there’s one little rub. They forget that advertising is persuasion, and persuasion is not a science, but an art.”
20) "It may well be that creativity is the last unfair advantage we're legally allowed to take over our competitors.”
21) “There are some marketing men, some heads of business who I dealt with who are far more creative than most of the art directors and writers I know… Because they find fresh, new ways to reach a goal and achieve impact.”
22) “Our job is to bring the dead facts to life.”
23) “A great ad campaign will make a bad product fail faster. It will get more people to know it’s bad.”
24) “In communications, familiarity breeds apathy.”
25) "We found (Heinz ketchup) thicker and richer than our competitors. Now suppose we had just put that in big headlines “Heinz is thicker and richer”. That’s the 'hard sell' style. Do you for a minute think it would have been as memorable, as remembered as the ketchup race?"
26) “The great mistakes are made when we feel we are beyond questioning.”
27) “That man really kept you on your toes. Good wasn’t good enough. Ads had to be fresh and original and in good taste every time. When he OK’d an ad, creative people would yell in the halls with unbelievable pride - ‘Bill loved it!’” Len Sirowitz
28) “Dullness won’t sell your product, but neither will irrelevant brilliance.”
29) “Artistry is, of course, a very difficult thing to measure. It's an intangible thing. But we had the job of convincing business that this unmeasurable, intangible thing could give them maximum impact for their dollar.”
30) Interviewer: At what point did you realize that' the agency you and Ned and Mac started was going to be successful?

Bernbach: "Well I think we knew it before we opened, because we had a concept that we strongly believed would work.”
31) “Fresh looks, fresh ideas, fresh ways to say things, that is the Bernbach touch” Bob Gage
32) “You can’t be strong unless you are right”
33) "However much we like advertising to be a science - because life would be simpler that way - the fact is that it is not. It is a subtle ever-changing art; what was effective one day, will not be effective the next, because it has lost the maximum impact of originality."
34) “I’ve got a great gimmick. Let’s tell the truth.” Mr. Ohrbach, one of Bernbach’s most important clients, in one of their weekly meetings to discuss the advertising of the Ohrbach store.
35) “Bernbach befuddles everyone. How do you copy someone who copies no one? His formula is no formula.” Bob Levenson
36) “The purpose of advertising is to sell. That is what the client is paying for and if that goal does not permeate every idea you get, every word you write, every picture you take, you are a phony and you ought to get out of the business.”
37) “Logic and over-analysis can immobilize and sterilize an idea. It’s like love — the more you analyze it, the faster it disappears.”
38) Bill Bernbach on the reason the persuasion element of advertising will stay the same for the next 100 years.
39) “It’s very ironic that this intangible thing that is so hard to measure is such a practical business tool… Being fresh and original.”
40) "My feeling is that you must get a sound premise before you begin thinking in terms of being creative. Otherwise, you’re going to make indelible something that doesn’t matter. But once you get a sound premise, what a crime it is to not make it memorable."
41) "There’s two ways you can go about making your advantage memorable. You can say it a thousand times until finally sinks in. Or you can say it ten times with the same impact because you said it in such a fresh way that people can’t forget."
42) “We are an agency that looks very long and hard for the thing to say and then we like to say it simply and let nothing get in the way of the message.”
43) “We say very imaginatively what the advantage of the product is.”
44) "Any ad man worth his salt will search for an important thing to say about his product. But your work isn’t over after you’ve found it. It has just begun. Now that you have this sacred thing, from a business perspective, you must make it indelible in the minds of the people."
45) Bill Bernbach on how to connect with consumers.
46) “I tell you that in this decade (1970s) creativity will not be less important. It will be more important because everybody will say things in the same way and therefore will be boring people. The few who remain intelligently creative will stand out more.”
47) “In advertising you can measure the efficiency of your ad by its impact. The impact is a direct result of how fresh and original it is, because you react strongly to something you’ve never seen or heard before.”
48) “It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with an unchanging man with his obsessive drive to survive, to succeed, to love.”
49) “He was quietly spoken, he was the opposite of a salesman. He was, as I said, professorial in his look and manner. A quiet man, with a big stick, his track record.” David Abbott about Bill Bernbach.
50) “Let us blaze new trails. Let us prove to the world that good taste, good art, and good writing can be good selling.“

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