20 Great Headlines from Classic Ads
Have you ever thought about copywriting? Or branding for your business? If not, then it is time that you did.
Maybe you are thinking of breaking into copywriting and are considering ad school or getting a copywriting certificate at the San Fransico School of Copywriting.
Or maybe you are already working in marketing, and looking to upgrade your copywriting skills in a big way.
Do you need some copywriting inspiration for your headlines? Feel like they could use some major spicing up?
Check out these 20 awesome classic ads that will crack open your creative shell open! Your energy will soon be flowing and your mind buzzing with ideas!
1. Morton Salt
Did you ever imagine that pouring salt would be the next biggest thing? As a result of humidity, salt clumping was a huge problem! In 1911 Morton solved this problem by adding the caking agent magnesium carbonate
The first Morton Salt national consumer advertising campaign was launched in 1914 by N. W. Ayer stating:
"When It Rains It Pours."
Oh, the beautiful, elegant, and one-of-a-kind Rolls-Royce. This is one of the longest-running and most successful advertising campaigns written by David Ogilvy.
Ogilvy's winning headline was all about quality when he wrote:
"At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in the new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock."
3. The U.S. School of Music
In 1927, John Caples a classic gem that became one of the most popular ads in copywriting history.
Caples details a pristine piano-playing narrative that details how one can start as a novice, and in no time flat become a seasoned pro!
The ad opens with the genius headline:
"They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano - But When I Started to Play!"
4. Miller Lite
In 1974, The Miller Brewing Company launched an ad campaign to launch its lite beer! McCann-Erikson Worldwide came up with the campaign and for many years afterward Miller Lite was a dominant force in the market.
The headline read "Great taste, less filling" and the campaign soon went to TV with actor Eddie Barth reading the slogan for the commercial.
Eddie's winning line reads:
"Lite Beer from Miller: Everything you've always wanted in a beer. And less."
In 1960, the advertising group Doyle Dane & Bernbach (DDB) and Volkswagen decided to create a new concept in the world of automobile advertisements!
In the '60s Cars were built big and fast. Volkswagen turned its slower engine into a positive boasting fewer oil changes and maintenance.
Volkswagen's campaign simply read:
"Presenting America's slowest fastback."
Completely turning the market onto a new concept.
In 1949, Clairol introduced its first single-step hair color. By the '50s and '60s, Clairol was working hard to make coloring your hair the new and natural normal.
Copywriter Shirley Polykoff from the firm Foote, Cone & Belding was tasked with making Clairol seem so natural, that nobody would know a lady had used it!
She then pioneered the ever-popular headline:
"Does she... or doesn't she?"
In the 1980s, Wendy's began brainstorming to create a new and fresh advertisement campaign. To set their burgers apart from the rest.
In 1984, Cliff Freeman from the Dancer Fitzgerald Sample agency catapulted sales by a whopping 31% that year with the headline:
"Where's the beef?"
"At Wendy's you get more beef and less bun."
How could we forget Nike? Their list of inspiring headlines stands the test of time, and who hasn't heard of their slogan:
"Just Do It."
In 1987, Nike launched a campaign for their Air Revolution shoes, which defies gravity in a whole new way,
"Gravity will never be the same."
This shoe isn't for the faint of heart, because Nike tells us "if you're afraid of heights, buy another basketball shoe."
When Hallmark was busy building their brand during the 1930s-50s and trying to insert themselves into American history.
In 1944, Hallmark executive Ed Goodman's winning headline is still used today, and defines the brand itself,
"When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best."
Even in the 1920s, Rolex was leading the way in innovation. In 1926 Rolex released its famous waterproof watch the Rolex Oyster. And so began a marketing campaign to show it off to the world.
One of their earliest known ads called this watch the "Amphibious Oyster" and that it "defies the elements."
Elements being heat, dust, water, perspiration. Absolute genius.
Apple has been putting out successful advertising campaigns for decades now, and they haven't stopped yet.
One such ad from 1982 is sure to make you smile. The headline is genius and grabs your attention by saying:
"Apples make great carrots."
What? It then takes you on to learn all about the latest and greatest Apple technology.
The Coca-Cola Company has an incredibly long history of advertising campaigns, stemming all the way back to 1899!
There is no shortage of classic copywriting tips and copywriting examples for you to look at.Like their ad campaign from 1937, where the headline asks people to:
"STOP for a pause...GO refreshed."
13. Burger King
Burger King has been around since 1954, so they are doing something right beyond their burgers. And that something would be their advertising campaigns.
In the 1970s, Burger King launched what would become a widely known and successful advertising campaign for many years to come. The headline read simply:
"Have it your way."
By the 1970s McDonald's was looking for a new advertising campaign to take the company to the next level.
Enter Needham, Harper & Steers Advertising Agency in Chicago.
After a failed start, they were able to birth these simple words that would carry McDonald's for years to come:
"You Deserve a Break Today."
Pepsi has been in business since 1898. Pepsi has also been in a battle with Coca-Cola for almost just as long.
Pepsi has made many headlines over the years, and one famous line, in particular, has served them well. In 1933, new owner Charles Guth relaunched the company by increasing the bottle sizes.
The headline read:
"Worth a dime costs a nickel."
Who hasn't had a bowl full of Jell-O? Or those famous Jello-O salads and chunky Jell-O desserts are burned in our memories.
Throughout the years, Jell-O has had many successful advertising headlines.
What about this cheeky headline in the 50s which says:
"When I'm eating Jell-O I wish I were a zebra because then I could paint my stripes and remind everyone of those six delicious flavors."
17. Camel Cigarettes
Nowadays it is hard to believe there was a time that cigarettes were promoted as being the healthy and stylish way to go.
Camel cigarettes invested in numerous ad campaigns over the years, to keep themselves on top of the game.
In 1950, Camel put together the headline:
"Not a single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels."
18. De Beers
De Beers launched an ad campaign that brought meaning to the engagement ring as we now know it.
De Beers hired New York ad agency N.W. Ayer for this task. In 1948 they created a headline that hit the mark and still carries the industry today.
Surely you have heard of:
"A Diamond Is Forever."
The first Polaroid camera called the Model 95 hit the market in 1948. This camera sold out in no time at all.
In 1960, Polaroid began a campaign to promote its new color pack camera.
The headline was remarkably simple, yet captured the need for more technology and speed at the time, dubbing it:
"The 60-second excitement."
In 1914 the first over-the-counter mouthwash danced onto store shelves worldwide. Saving humanity from the curse of bad breath.
One classic headline read "Halitosis makes you unpopular." And another:
"Often a Bridesmaid, Never A Bride."
If this didn't inspire people to invest further in their dental health, I don't know what else would.
Classic Ads Lead to Inspiration
We hope you enjoyed our inspiring trip back in time, to take a look at all these amazing classic ads! You can see how one simple headline has the power to change the world! Or at least send it off in a new direction.
Copywriting and advertising have a long and rich history. Whether you're interested in a copywriting certificate, ad school, or branding, The San Francisco School of Copywriting has courses that can help you grow your skills to new heights.
You can contact us here to find out more about our online and live course offerings. In as little as 6 weeks, you can change your life!