I’d like to start off this post with a creepy old-timey Ad of a demon child peering into your soul…Let’s learn some selling!

In the early 1900’s during the Madmen era of the Madison Avenue Ad agencies where chain-smoking, busty secretaries, and scotch abounded,

There was an Ad war going on.

The battle was over the canned beans market. Advertisers were duking it out to conquer America’s kitchen cabinets where only one canned-bean could reign over the nation’s pantry.

Amidst clacking typewriters, and second-hand smoke, one Chicago-based ad firm who represented Van Camp’s Beans, brought in the Rain-man of Advertising to settle this game of aprons once and for all.

That man was Claude Hopkins.

He was the most sought after hired gun of his time –and would be– in any time he was in. He was also about as far from the Don Draper archetype as one could be.

He describes his initial thoughts and strategy…

“Van Camp’s pork and beans offered no unique arguments. They were like other pork and beans. When we met in factory and served half a dozen brands, not a man present could decide which was Van Camp’s


We told facts that which no one else ever told.

We told of vine-ripened tomatoes, Livingston Stone tomatoes –All of our competitors used them.

We told how we analyzed every lot of beans –As every canner must.

We told of our ovens where beans are baked for hours at 245 degrees. –That is regular canning practice.

We told how we boiled beans in soft water to eliminate the lime which made skins tough. Our rivals did that also.

We told why¬† beans baked in home ovens fermented and were hard to digest….

We told the same story that any rival could have told but all others thought the story was to commonplace.”

So, if all the other competitors *could* have told this story, why didn’t they?

Claude Hopkins sums it up with the following quote:

“The Majority of advertising, even today, is based on the plea,

“Buy My Brand.”

That Plea never appealed to anybody, and it never will. They [say] in effect,

“Give me the money you give to others.”

They offer no value. They solve no problems. Rather, they boast and brag that whatever they are trying to sell is “the original” “genuine” “most advanced” which is basically roundabout ways of saying buy my brand.

Sage wisdom permeates the writing of Claude Hopkins on the subject of advertising and selling. He had a keen understanding of human nature that allowed him to do so well. He simply knew how to give people what they wanted in an ethical way.

“A man not willing to bid for patronage on an altruistic basis has no place in advertising or selling”

He argued that if all you’re doing is trying to gain selfish advantage for yourself than you can count on sucking in the marketplace.

Cool beans.