Claude Hopkins looks like a crotchety chemist. Or a vacuum cleaner salesman. At least, he does in most of the pictures you’ll find of him online.
Which is appropriate considering that he sold both, as a house copywriter, until at age 41 he got a job writing ads under Albert Lasker, at the Lord & Thomas ad agency.
Today, your average modern ad man might not think much of Claude Hopkins’ “antiquated” ideas.
Many working copywriters might not even know who Claude was, let alone why he mattered.
His most famous book, “Scientific Advertising,” was written and published more than a lifetime ago, in 1923. And it sold for 10 cents. Today, you can find it free online.
So why care about Claude Hopkins and what he had to say at all? Because so much of what he had to say then… still matters. The examples have changed. So has the medium. But the fundamentals are still the same.
Keep in mind, Hopkins ads from the 1920s are still among some of the most famous ever written. He was so talented, Lasker paid him $185,000 a year in 1907.
That’s like making $4,048,173 today. Actually, more than that, since accurate inflation calculators only go back to 1913. And Hopkins earned every penny.
He sold a fortune in Schlitz Beer, by being the first to write an ad about how their “bottles are washed with live steam.”
He sold carpet sweepers as, can you believe it, the “Queen of Christmas presents” and VanCamp’s pork and beans because they were “baked for hours at 245 degrees.” It was Hopkins’ stroke of genius to sell tires as “all weather,” putting Goodyear on the map.
His secret was simple. Find the benefit in whatever he was hired to sell, and make it unique. Own that territory. It was enough to make him one of the most successful copywriters who ever lived.
You can read a free copy of Scientific Advertising yourself, by downloading it from here.
Last modified: March 8, 2019