Willie is always playing billiards (Great Quotes on Advertising, 4)

On getting the reader’s attention

The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly. —William Bernbach  (1989)

It is insight into human nature that is the key to the communicator’s skill. For whereas the writer is concerned with what he puts into his writings, the communicator is concerned with what the reader gets out of it. He therefore becomes a student of how people read or listen. —William Bernbach  (1989)

Advertising may be described as the science of arresting human intelligence long enough to get money from it. —Stephen Leacock (1869-1944), “The Perfect Salesman,” Garden of Folly, 1924

Successful advertisers… [shoot] that much harder for advertisements that, as Arthur Brisbane defined good writing, are “easier to read than to skip.” —Schwab, How to Write a Good Advertisement

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

On the competition

When somebody asked Willie Hoppe’s manager how it was that Willie always won his billiard matches, the answer was: “Willie is always playing billiards; his competitors are always playing Willie.” —Schwab, How to Write a Good Advertisement

Willie Hoppe (rhymes with "poppy"), ca. 1910-1915. Photo: Wikipedia

Willie Hoppe (rhymes with “poppy”), ca. 1910-1915. Photo: Wikipedia


  • I’m a copywriter as well as an art historian and historian. Some years back, for inspiration, I collected my favorite quotes about advertising; they ended up in the appendix of the Versaquill Copywriting WorkbookThe quotes above are the fourth installment: I’ll be publishing more here occasionally: click on “Advertising” in the tab cloud at lower right to find them all.
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About Dianne L. Durante

I constantly seek out art that's inspiring, thought-provoking, skillfully executed, and/or beautiful so I can share it (in jargon-free language) with others who need and enjoy such art, but don't have time to search for it themselves. As an independent scholar, writer, and lecturer, I focus on art history and history, with forays into food, history, politics, and publishing. My most recent projects are three volumes on Alexander Hamilton, From Portraits to Puddles, Central Park: The Early Years, Innovators in Sculpture (a survey of 5,000 years of art in 2 hours), and videoguide apps by Guides Who Know. Click on the Books & Essays tab for a list of all books. For upcoming projects, see my Patreon page.

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