Wednesday, November 18, 2020

#114 Parade Space Advertising

#114 Blog Post – Wednesday, November 18, 2020


Posted by Denny Hatch



Over the past 40 years, Parade has been my favorite marketing magazine. Consider this October 25, 2020 issue:

• The most widely read magazine in America.

• Distributed free in over 700 Sunday newspapers nationwide.

• 42 million circulation with a readership of 54.1 million.

• This 20-page issue contains 14 full-color direct response ads.

• Retail cost of a full-page 4-color ad is $733,600.

• Many of these advertisers have been making big bucks from Parade for over 30 years.

• This is big-league, hi-stakes advertising.

• I love it!

A Look at Two Parade Direct Ads
To Find Ideas That You Can Steal



The Company:
Bradford Exchange was founded in 1973 as The Bradford Gallery of Collector’s Plates. They have been selling their tchotchkes for years in Parade.
In this issue of Parade alone are three full-page Bradford Exchange ads plus another from The Hamilton Collection—a Bradford subsidiary. This past Sunday's Parade contained three full-page Bradford ads.


The Product: 
“Limited Edition” tabletop 18”-tall Thomas Kinkaid “Holiday Sparkle” Christmas tree sprinkled with glittering snow, 20 shining silver ornaments, hundreds of fiber optic lights that “dance in brilliant colors” while it plays a medley of 8 favorite carols. More lights shine from within the sculpted village houses at the base circled by a merry little railroad train.
      (“Limited Edition” means limited to the number of people who ordered it.)


Two Ways to Order:
(1) Fill out the coupon. Find a blank envelope. Address the envelope. Insert coupon. Affix a stamp. Take it somewhere to mail it. (2) Order at


The Offer and Terms:
Send no money now. You will be billed. The price is in the middle of the ad copy—four installments of $37.50 for a total of $149.    
     Separately—at the bottom of the coupon—is an additional $19.99 “shipping and service” bringing the total to $169.98.
     By burying the added $19.99 at the bottom of the coupon in mouse-type (easily missed in the excitement of ordering) the customer will be thinking $37.50 rather than the whopping total of $169.98 (a possible deal killer).

On Bradford's receipt of your first installment, allow 4-8 weeks for delivery. In this era where customers expect "instant gratification" (e.g. Amazon's Tomorrow Delivery), the 4-8 weeks wait is a killer. But Bradford won't produce and ship a product without getting at least some cash up front.
     Satisfaction guaranteed or money back.
     Limit: one per order.
     Batteries not included. (Why not include batteries??? Batteries are cheap! These folks have waited up to two months for Pete's sake! Include 3 AAA batteries and let the customers enjoy this thing immediately!)


 The Coupon: 
Note: Signature required. Since this is a send-no-money-now bill-me offer, Bradford turns the coupon into a binding legal document.
Note: The mailing address is in the coupon top—not in the body of the ad. One reason: some consumers clip the coupon and take it up to their desk to fill it out, find an envelope and stamp. If the company’s address is in the body of the ad and not in the coupon, the customer won’t know where to send the coupon and the sale could be lost.
Note: The key# at bottom is highlighted in yellow—code for the product, the ad, the publication and the date. This is absolutely essential in direct marketing so you can track the profit or loss of that offer in that medium on that date.

     DH’s take:
The ad and coupon break a lot of accepted rules (see below). But pay no attention to the old rules here. Bradford has been using Parade for years. They know the readers. They know what sells. No doubt they have tested everything—type sizes, coupon sizes, offers, prices.


About “Send No Money Now”:
• This is a rarity these days when it's so easy to ask for a credit card number and not take a chance on a cumbersome back-and-forth bill-me situation.

• The Plus: "Send No Money Now" makes it much easier for the customer to order. No interruption of the ordering process by being forced to hunt up a credit card number and copying it onto the order coupon.

• The Minus: You have to set up a billing system as opposed to the ease of receiving cash (or credit card number) with order.

Rules Broken:
• Only two ways to order: mail and Internet. It makes sense give customers ways to order that are most comfortable to them: mail, Internet, 800# phone and (if possible) a nearby retail store (where you can see the actual product).

"Type smaller than nine-point is difficult for most people to read."  —David Ogilvy

"Never set your copy over a gray or colored tint and never set copy in reverse (white type on a black background). The old school of art directors believed that these devices forced people to read the copy; we now know that they make reading physically challenging." —David Ogilvy

     Note about the two broken rules above.
The type in this ad is tiny throughout—my guess 5-point or 6-point, plus the entire ad is in white type reversed on a blue background. This combination blows David Ogilvy's rules on type (above) out of the water. In short, very tough to read. Yet the Bradford Exchange has been advertising successfully in Parade for many years. They must know what they are doing.

• The only logical conclusion is that the product is so beautiful, compelling and fun—with intricate design, dancing lights, music and action—customers will struggle through the difficult-to-read copy and place an order. After all they know and trust Bradford Exchange and happily order from them.

• To read some of the mouse-type body copy of the ad, go to



I don’t recognize these folks—either from past issues of Parade or anywhere else. My opinion: the order mechanism is correct in every way.

No Rules Broken
“Always make it easy to order.” —Elsworth Howell, CEO Grolier Enterprises

Four ways to order:  (1) Phone, (2) Coupon, (3) Online and (4) Retail—CVS, Amazon, Rite Aid—“Located in the Pain-Relief Section. (OFFER NOT GOOD IN STORES)”

• Large readable type throughout.

• Special bonus: Buy 2, get 1 Free.

• 2-Day Shipping. (Immediate gratification.)

• 90-day money-back guarantee.
• Rapid pain-relief GUARANTEED!

• Includes testimonial from a happy customer (look under the giant $13.33 top right).
• If you can fit in one or more testimonials, use them; they are an extra salesperson in your presentation and should increase response


One of the Most Successful Space Ads in History

In 1951, working from her kitchen table in a tiny apartment, newly married Lillian Katz ran this little $495 black-and-white ad in the mail order section of Seventeen Magazine.


She generated 6,400 orders and $32,000 in sales. Katz—a 5-foot-1-inch dynamo—changed her name to Lillian Vernon and spent the next 50 years building a catalog business with annual sales of $250+ million.


A Formula to Determine Selling Price and Breakeven
Let’s say you are running a space ad for $1,200 to sell a $40 product. You have paid for the creative; your ad is standing and ready to run. Your markup is five to one; in other words, your cost of goods sold is $8. You will accept cash with order (check or money order) or a credit card. No bill-me option. Let’ say shipping costs are a wash. For example, add $5 for shipping and handling that costs $5.


Revenue per order                                     $40.00

Cost of goods sold                       $ 8.00

Reserve for returns (15%)           $ 6.00

General & Administrative (15%)   $ 6.00

 (Includes credit card processing)

*Profit (15%)                              $ 6.00

Total costs                                  $26.00      26.00

Allowable cost per order                             $14.00

 *Profit is always included and is treated as a cost.

You spent $1,200 for an ad. Divide the Allowable Cost per Order ($14) into $1200 and you need 86 orders to break even.

Takeaways to Consider

• Small space ads are a great way to test a new product or service.

• Never test a publication that does not have direct response ads.

• Go where your competition goes. Chances are they have tested there and it works for them.

• Always design the ad with the coupon at the bottom outside of the page so it is easy to cut out or tear out. If your artist puts the coupon in the middle of the ad or next to the gutter, find another artist.

• Always start by testing small in regional editions. Example: in its heyday, TV Guide had 120 regional editions. You could test one metropolitan edition and one rural edition for a few grand and see if your offer is profitable.

• Can you test regional editions of Parade? Tell your space buyer to check it out.

• Check out my Blogpost #34, How to Steal an Idea and Destroy a Fledgling Business to see how this was done in the past.

• Arithmetic is key to your success. Know it cold.

“In direct marketing, two rules and two rules only exist. Rule #1: ‘Test everything.’ Rule #2: ‘See Rule #1.' ” —Malcolm Decker

• In direct marketing figure on a 9-to-1 markup. 11-to-1 is better.

• Never go it alone. Always hire an expert to guide you and place your ads.

“I have never paid retail for an ad in my life.” —Iris Shokoff, Iris Shokoff Associates, N.Y.


Word Count: 1540

 You Are Invited to Meet Denny Hatch:

At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press. He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 years he has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.


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