Ideas.—Ideas mean the basis of ad writing, of advertising, for without ideas nothing can be stated—the better the ideas the better the statements and the stronger the advertising.
Study, absorb, think out ideas by all means. Words are but the vehicles of ideas, types the vehicles of words and ideas are the prime and primeval requisites of ads. Ideas may consist of: —
First. Simply facts connected with business.
Second. Facts connected with business, together with out-side thoughts.
Third. Outside thoughts, i. e., thoughts having but an indirect bearing upon the business.
All are valuable. Probably the least valuable are the latter, as in the hurry and stress of today’s progress people have little or no time to consider non-essentials.
The creative mind commands a premium in ad writing—the commonplace mind had better stick to commonplace subjects—and the sterile mind is valueless. Every mind interested should be clear, receptive, analytical and above all creative.
The growth of ideas is a marvellous matter. How some ideas arise in the human mind is an impenetrable mystery. The impression comes, grows stronger and bursts into full life. Which of the five senses received the impression? When was the impression received? How long did the thought lie dormant, awaiting the silent, yet powerful mental call, to arouse it into fullest expression? Possibly the suggestion originally came from generations back—received only at birth-traceable (if we could trace its invisible path) to hereditary influences and reaching its full-fledged development and expression only at the critical moment when circumstances called for just that particular idea. It may be that the mind received the impression during childhood—the impression was pigeon-holed with thousands of other impressions stored away in brain cells and never used until memory reaches out and resurrects them in response to a demand by the entire mentality.
In the life of Honore de Balzac by his sister appears this interesting passage on ideas: —
” Louis Lambert asks himself whether the constituent principle of electricity does not enter as a basis into the particular fluid from which Ideas spring. He saw in Thought a complete system, like one of Nature’s kingdoms, a celestial flora, as it were, the development of which by some man of genius would be taken for the work of a lunatic. ` Yes, all things within us and without us,’ said Louis Lambert, ` bear evidence to the life of Ideas,: those regarding creations which, obeying some mysterious revelation of their nature, I compare to flowers.’
“My brother returns in several of his works to this subject of meditation. In the Peau de Chagrin, among others, he analyzes the birth, life, or death of certain thoughts,—one of the most fascinating pages of that book.
” Louis Lambert found in the moral nature, phenomena of motion and gravity, similar to those of the physical nature, and demonstrated his opinion by certain examples.
`The emotion of expectant attention,’ he said, `is painful through the effect of a law in virtue of which the weight of a body is multiplied by its swiftness. Does not the weight of sentiment, the moral gravity, which waiting produces, increase by the constant addition of past pains to present pain? To that if not to some electric substance can we attribute that magic by force of which the Will sits majestically enthroned in the eye, to blast all obstacles at the command of genius, or breaks forth in the voice, or filters visibly, in defiance of hypocrisy, through the human cuticle? The current of this king of fluids which, under the high pressure of Thought or Sentiment, flows forth in waves, lessens to a thread, or gathers to a volume and gushes out in lightning jets, is the occult minister to whom we owe the efforts (be they fatal or beneficent) of the arts and the passions,—the intonations of the voice, rough, sweet, terrifying, lascivious, horrible, seductive, which vibrate in the heart, in the bowels, in the brain, at the call of our wishes,—the spell of touch, from which proceed the mental transfusions of the artist, whose creative hand, made perfect through passionate study, can evoke nature,—the endless gradations of the eye, passing from sluggish atony to the discharge of lightning-flashes full of menace. God loses none of his rights in this system. Thought, material thought, tells me of new and undiscovered grandeurs in the Divine.’ ”
Ideas come from all sources. Pick up a newspaper and the brain receives a score or more ideas-evanescent ’tis true-but sufficiently tableted upon the memory to jump into instant significance when the mind calls. Pick up a book and presently the author’s ideas are tincturing the reader’s mind. Come in contact with other people—particularly forceful people—and you are at once inoculated with their suggestions.
This is based upon the presumption that the mind is open and receptive—the only mind of value in ad writing or any other up-to-date business. The prejudiced mind—the ” shut in ” mind-the undeveloped mind and the ignorant mind should be altogether left out of consideration. Such minds neither give nor receive impressions—in commonplace matters they may perform prefunctionary duties—but in ad writing when so much is at stake upon what is said and how it is said they certainly have no place.
A mind trained in ad writing, i. e., a mind creative, receptive and analytical, can study a business in its many phases and rarely does this mind make a mistake in picking out the best advertising phase—the best set of ideas.
This is the result of hereditary influences, later of school and college life, and still later of the business education which comes to the man of affairs. Here are three distinct sets of influences and every advertising man with a reputation bows his acknowledgments to each.
The advertising man should study his readers with great consideration. Advertising, in a sense, may be defined as the influence of mind over mind, therefore the psychological element in advertising is a most important one.
So much for the birth and growth of ideas, which is but very little indeed! This great subject is beyond any writer—beyond any human conception.
Now for the application of ideas.
Supposing we were to advertise—say a pen. All right. At once the mental machinery resolves itself into a series of questions and answers
What is the pen for? To write. To write how? To write smoothly. Anything else? To write clearly. Anything else? To write with a perfect flow of ink. Anything else? It is a durable pen. Anything else? It is a strong, yielding pen. And so on until all information regarding the pen is extracted.
With this information before the ad writer he or she (for there are quite a number of young ladies now in the publicity field) selects the most important and there we have a series of facts-and facts only.
So far so good.
At this juncture fancy steps in and lends an idea or two to heighten up prosaic facts. Contrary to many opinions I believe in taking the rough edges off cold facts—sugar-coating them as it were—with happy, brief expressions that have but an indirect bearing upon the subject in hand.
Get the ideas right from facts regarding the pen. Then get the ideas right from fancies conjured up regarding the pen. See that these ideas make a distinct, positive and pleasant impression.
After which hunt up the right words to express these ideas, which brings us along to the next subject—the treatment of words.