THE word “broadside” is ordinarily applied to large advertising folders. Who invented the name I don’t know. The name has an impressive naval sound. One may fancy that, by its size and striking character, it is assumed to produce an effect on the mind of the recipient comparable to that of a salvo of great guns from a battle-fleet. It is supposed to be a knock-out.
The analogy is fantastic, to be sure, but not without suggestion. In every relation of life mere size is impressive. Who ever stood in the shadow of the Cathedral at Cologne without an overpowering surge of emotion; or, for that matter, who ever gazed up at the lofty pinnacle of the Woolworth Building without dimly feeling that its very immensity was its title to world fame?
The idea of the advertising broadside rests on the same fundamental appeal. A large sheet of paper strikingly illustrated does not create a lifelong impression, it is true, but it does affect the mind far more than does a trivial little handbill.
The true distinction between a broadside and a folder, I sup-pose, is this: in a folder each folded page is a separate unit; but when a broadside is opened the whole constitutes one advertisement. One reads right over the folds, and for this reason it is very important that a paper that folds well be used. It is on this account that we think many producers of broadsides could use a perfect-folding paper like Buckeye Cover to very good advantage. The striking colors in which it is obtainable are another sound reason for the slightly higher expense.
The second advantage of the broadside also comes from its size. Its very dimensions make it possible to use any form of typography and to employ pictures with considerable freedom of selection. You can have the space to illustrate your product in detail. Large plates may be used or a considerable number of small ones. Your story may be told and illustrated with a fair degree of completeness in a single broadside.
Ordinarily the advertiser would not wish to crowd too much into his broadside. He understands that he is not getting out a catalogue, and he can more profitably use each mailing to advertise one particular item of his line or to emphasize one special feature. Broadsides may readily be issued in series, but when this plan is adopted, care must be taken to make the pieces fit into one another and to follow in a logical sequence. No advertising in series can be highly successful if a proper order is not maintained. Hence it is wise to plan an entire series of broadsides or folders at one time. Otherwise they may become quite desultory and ineffective.
Broadsides and smaller folders may be sent out in envelopes, but usually they are self-contained. This suggests the first essential in the selection of the paper. It must fold without cracking, and it must be tough enough to withstand the inevitable stresses and shocks of transportation in the mails. No advertisement that arrives in bad condition will very favorably impress the man who gets it.
The third consideration is immediate effect. Your catalogue or booklet may be preserved and serve you well months after it is received, but your broadside probably must get its reaction immediately or not at all. Therefore, high attention value and striking effect are doubly desirable. These may be had in various ways or by a combination of them all, but color is probably the most effective weapon at your command. People who profess to know, assert that a color advertisement possesses four times the selling power of the same advertisement in black and white. Whether this will be borne out in general experience is hard to determine, but there is no doubt that the judicious use of color is a sound investment.
If you receive any considerable amount of advertising you may draw useful lessons from your own mail. Put aside all the broad-sides and folders that come to you in a month and then give them a few moments of thoughtful study. We suggest that your first discovery will be that a large part of them defeat their own ends by imperfect materials and manufacture, and comparatively few will be found in anything approximating the condition in which they left the press of the printer.
The broadside is a relatively inexpensive form of advertising, and it is usually issued in quantity. Costs and mailing expense are often a factor in their planning; but too often, we fear, these economies greatly reduce the results obtained. No advertising is cheap that is ineffective.
Color may be introduced in several ways. The pictures may be in process, or there may be a “spot” of red in the text to emphasize something of special interest or to bring out the heading. But the most effective utilization of color, we think, is in the paper itself. The light-weight Buckeye Cover is designed with a special view to the requirements of broadsides and smaller folders, and it is obtainable in twelve colors, ranging all the way from white to black. The paper, of course, folds perfectly, without the suggestion of a fracture, and it will stand a great deal of hard usage in transit. It is astonishing to observe the number of striking effects a resourceful printer can get with a minimum of presswork by utilizing the color of the stock for part of his final result. The color makes the advertisement stand out in the mail from its commonplace competitors for attention, and the obviously superior quality of the paper is immediately suggestive of quality in the product. The variety of finishes available is another advantage.
The size of the broadside is determined by several considerations, but two things should be kept primarily in mind. It must cut without waste from the standard sizes of the paper to be used, and it must fold into a convenient size for handling both by the postman and the final recipient. Buckeye Cover, for example, comes in standard sheets of two sizes20×26 and 23×35. A broad-side that would not utilize either full sheets or half sheets would be uneconomical, though, of course, small folders may be of any size desired, and are not necessarily subject to such rigorous restrictions.
The question of size may enter into the specific use for which your broadside is designed. If it is to be sent to individuals it need not be too large, because it will be read at the usual reading distance, and it should not be inconvenient to handle when opened. But if it is intended to be used as a window-hanger it should be larger in size and in its display throughout. Its purpose will then be to attract the attention and invite the reading of casual passers-by. They will not have the advantage of adjustment to their vision, and they may have imperfect light. Easy reading, attractive pictures and limited text are necessary, because people will not suffer inconvenience nor strain to read your message. While the center spread of your broadside when opened may be, and should be, one complete advertisement, each fold in effect cuts the opposite sides of the broadside into something comparable to individual pages. They should be treated independently, and the whole arrangement should be so ordered that your story develops as the recipient opens the piece. The outside or address fold, if no envelope is to be used, cannot wisely be burdened with pictures or printing. A pleasant and stimulating suggestion is enough of art or copy. The use of so-called “teasers” or blind lines is very common. But the practice has become somewhat stale from overdoing. It is better, we think, to frankly suggest what is within than to try to create the impression by the use of a cryptic phrase, that one has only to look within to discover the royal road to fortune. It must be remembered that the postal authorities are very averse to having the address side of envelopes, post-cards or folders confused with printing. “All-over” designs are no longer tolerated, and unless you leave at least three and one-half inches of plain paper for the address at the right side of your mailing piece, you will run the risk of having it rejected by the post-office.
There has been a good deal of discussion as to the treatment of the back. Some advertising writers have emphasized the statement that all blank paper has value, and that even the back page of a catalogue may be made the vehicle of important sales messages. One might say also that all city real estate has value, and the man who owns a large lot is not alive to his opportunities unless he builds his house all over it. We are quite of the opinion that to cheapen the effect by what may appear to be only a parsimonious desire to use everything in sight is but poor business. The back page may ordinarily be left blank or carry only a name or trade-mark.
The entire design of an effective broadside or folder should possess unity and even harmony. The temptation, because it is a big sheet of paper, to put too much into it may well be resisted. The pictures must be congruous and the whole effect one of order and balance. A cluttered, crowded effect in a broadside is quite as undesirable as it would be in the display windows of Altman’s or Field’s. The layout is of the first importance, and if you lack experience yourself and have confidence in your printer, consult him at every stage of preparation.
The engravings will be chosen with regard to several matters. Primarily, of course, they must be suitable to the requirements of your product. If cover paper is to be employed, any other type of engraving than the halftone may be used with confidence. If half-tones are to be used, the screen should not be too fine and the engravings should be deeply etched. The plate finish or smooth cover papers are naturally more receptive to halftones than the rougher antique surfaces.
Bizarre or poster effects are probably more adaptable to the broadside than to any other form of advertising, because the broadside may become, as suggested previously, a poster in itself. Its brilliant colorings and unusual style are valuable in arresting public attention.
The folder may be distinguished from the broadside primarily by its size. Any advertisement folded and dispatched by post may be regarded as a folder. It is the accepted form of “stunt” advertising, and is the fertile field of those advertising men who feel the urge of an inborn “cleverness.” A piece of paper is susceptible of an astonishing variety of folded forms, and these may be multiplied indefinitely by the art of the die-maker. Novelty, therefore, finds a considerable part of its expression in the development of folders.
Novelty is an advantage so long as it results in increased attention value without sacrifice of the more serious considerations. But it is a device to be used with prudence. If the novel form of your production must be attained at the cost of making it awkward to handle in the mails or to read with facility and understanding, or if it conveys the impression that you are relying rather on the unusual character of your presentation than on the sound character of your goods, then you have paid too great a price for mere attention.
Novelty is like humor; it is a thing to be used sparingly in advertising, and then only when you are sure that you have some-thing genuine to offer. Humor greatly lightens the burdens of life, but if it be forced and lacks spontaneity it is the most depressing of literary devices.
In the long pull we have no faith in any form of advertising not backed by truth, sincerity and honest goods. No artifice will sustain a business not founded on useful service and truthful representation.
But the lighter touch is an asset of supreme value to the relatively few men who can attain and maintain it. We have in our files one of the most beautiful and interesting series of folders that has come to our notice. The Tide Water Oil Sales Corporation told the story of petroleum in a series of twelve folders, all printed on white, ripple finish Buckeye Cover. The narrative was fanciful, going back one million years and coming down to to-day. The art was interesting, amusing and suggestive, and the series was carried through chronologically, which is the finest form of order. Who could read without a smile of the days when petroleum was considered a specific for cholera and rheumatism and fits? And the picture recalls to old men happy and exciting evenings spent on the street corner under the spell of the medicine-man.
The folder is the most elastic of all forms of advertising. You may make it as large or as small as you will. You may use the most beautiful paper to be procured, or you may make it of the cheapest products of the mills.
In its creation your imagination may have full sway, unhampered by any rules or any consideration except that of the money you are willing to expend. It is the free lance of direct advertising, a convenient tool, always available, and in the hands of the wise and thoughtful, an instrument of power.
In using folders of any form, large or small, many advertisers are bidding for quick results. These can be facilitated by the use of return cards. An order card may be made part of the folder by perforation, or it may be attached by gumming, or inserted in slits. To make it convenient to send an inquiry or to order a small article is to increase your sales. The man who is invited to send a dime or a quarter is more likely to do so if all he has to do is to write his name and address, rather than prepare a complete letter. To make people wish to do business with you and to make it convenient for them to do so is one of the functions of the ever-useful device called the folder.
For the closing of self-contained folders or broadsides the gummed sticker is the most satisfactory device obtainable. Clips were formerly much used, but they catch on other pieces in the mail, and are very distasteful to the post-office authorities. Broad-sides or folders that are sent to dealers with the thought that they may be hung in the store or window are much more likely to be used if a gummed sticker for hanging is attached. The merchant may have none at hand, and if he does not act on his first impulse to preserve and display the advertisement, the chances are all against his doing so later.