Copywriters, art directors, ad nerds, and entrepreneurs…

Learn the ways and the whys behind some of the best advertising in history

Discover why some of the world’s best advertisers wrote and designed their ads the way they did. Receive breakdowns of their work in your inbox once every two weeks (or so). And use the timeless lessons, insights and observations to improve your advertising today.

Already enjoyed by 1000s online

“Great analysis of a truly brilliant ad.”

-James Donaldson (LinkedIn comment)

“Outstanding analysis and very teachable for future AdLanders.”

-Anthony Kalamut (LinkedIn comment)

“Fantastic ad and insightful breakdown, Lewis!”

-Melanie Coffman (LinkedIn comment)

How many ads can you recall from the last 10 years?

Advertising isn’t what it was. It has lost its edge over the public. And its charm to the creatives. When so many of today’s advertisers are clueless about the work that came before us, what were we expecting? That we’d just magically produce great ads?

Unfortunately, the proof is in the pudding… and our pudding doesn’t look like much. So, it’s time to re-learn from the greats and, once again, create ads worth remembering.

History isn't about the past. It's about the future.

In a time where there has never been more advertising, you’d think we’d be seeing our best work yet. But we’re not.

In fact, according to the IPA, we’re seeing some of the least effective advertising in history. But why? Markets are competitive. Advertisers are plentiful. And businesses still need every edge they can get. Isn’t that enough to stimulate great advertising?

To say it straight, we’ve lost what shaped us, our identity. And now, our work is suffering. We, the advertisers of today, need to do better. Not just for the sake of our clients but for the sake of the industry.

And we do so by looking back. We need to learn from the creatives that came before us – the creatives who built many of the brands we still buy from – and use their experience to build a better future.

If we don’t, we lose sight of what works. And how can we expect to make great advertising if we don’t know what it looks like?

volvo old ad
“Wonderful! It’s so refreshing to be reminded of how much value the ad industry is capable of offering. The idea and superb copy are timeless and any seasoned or would be practitioner should take heart.”

-Mark Whitty (LinkedIn comment)

“Absolutely adore this breakdown. For anyone who wants to haggle over the price of a “few little words”, this is an outstanding reminder that copywriting – great copywriting – is more than just the words. It is the entire strategy, understanding, and consumer psychology behind.”

-Lee-Anne Carter (LinkedIn comment)

"Great advertising makes food taste better. It makes cars run better. It changes the perception of everything."

Your client could have the best product in the world. But if you can’t persuade anyone to use it, what good is it? As George Lois said, the perception of your product largely depends on the advertising that presents it. So if you want to create action-inducing advertising, you need to know the ingredients that make it.

Here are some of the areas you can expect to learn more about...

Language insight

Maybe you need to improve your client’s credibility. Or build more desire. Maybe you’re struggling with believability. Or perhaps you need to be more charming.  

The language you use affects how your message is received. Because sometimes it is what you say… and not just how you say it.

Part of the breakdown focuses on language use and explains the potential impacts of specific words on the reader.

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Ad structure

Which part do you want to emphasise? Or contrast to? Which part do you want to build on?  

On top of language, the organisation of your message also impacts your audience’s lasting impression. They’re not always obvious, but copy structures play a vital role in what your reader remembers.

Where suitable, I explain the structure of the ad copy and how this might have influenced the outcome.

Other observations

And then sometimes there are just gems that don’t fit into any specific category – but are too good to go undiscussed.

It could be the timing of the ad. The uniqueness of the challenge they faced. Or maybe even the style they presented it.

I keep space, usually at the end of the breakdown, for such observations.

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Sainsbury's olives ad written by Richard Foster

Past breakdowns

Because some of the breakdowns can be quite long, I don’t always share the whole thing in the email (it can be awkward and difficult to read).

So in those cases, I share just the most valuable portion of the breakdown – and then post the rest in my blog. Here you’ll find past breakdowns too.

But, regardless of the size, email subscribers get unique insights that I don’t share anywhere else. I kindly ask you to keep those insights to yourself.

You have a great talent teaching this stuff.”

-Cain Smith (LinkedIn comment)

“Best breakdown I’ve ever seen”

-Swati Sharma (LinkedIn comment)

Get historical ad lessons delivered straight to your inbox

Every couple of weeks, I break down an ad explaining why it was written and designed the way it was. You’ll learn how the advertising greats created ads that not only built the brands we still buy from today but also how they created ads we still love to discuss generations later.

And then, to keep you on your toes, I’ll occasionally send the odd advertising lesson from the present too. These don’t always come in the form of a detailed breakdown but are actionable and informative nonetheless.

So, if you’re ready to create memorable, persuasive and just downright great ads again, here’s what you need to do…

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P.S. Your details are safe. They won’t be shared with anyone else. They’re only used for this newsletter. 😀