Tuesday, November 1, 2022

#172 Blog Post - Christie's Invite


#172 Blog Post - Tuesday, 1 November 2022


Posted by Denny Hatch


Your Exclusive Invitation to a Free Tour of
The World's Greatest Private Art Collection


From Denny Hatch's Yahoo inbox last week:


Christie's Email Invitation:

In advance of the two-part auction of Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection, explore more than 150 masterpieces spanning 500 years of art history. Valued at an unprecedented $1 billion, the vast trove of the co-founder of Microsoft and philanthropist traces a collecting journey from the trailblazing Old Masters such as Sandro Botticelli to contemporary giants like David Hockney. 

We look forward to welcoming you to our galleries at Rockefeller Center beginning 29 October.


If you attend the auction—or watch it privately streaming live on your home TV—you might see a few gazillionaires' representatives in a bidding war. Among them might be a well-financed museum director (e.g. perhaps someone from billionairess Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.) One of these folks will be spending $65 million or more in three minutes.


This is high drama. Heady stuff.


Above are three of the 150 masterpieces in the Allen Collection that have never been seen by the public. They are on view at Christie's auction galleries—and online—prior to the sale. During this period they will be seen by the tiniest elite of art aficionados—including you and me—who ever lived on the planet. Once the gavel bangs down and the auctioneer says, "SOLD!" they will disappear into private homes and castles, never to be seen again.


Think of it. This extraordinary adventure started with the teensy email from Christie's I found in my Yahoo inbox last week.


I Invite You to Turn Your Computer, iPad or iPhone
Into a Private Art Museum with Two Great Collections:


The Paul G. Allen Collection


The Ann and Gordon Getty Collection 


A couple of times a month I am flattered—and delighted!—to have an e-invitation from Christie's pop out of my in-box. This is a welcome diversion from the endless dark news cycles of political fury, accusations of lying, victimhood, riots, finger pointing, assaults, indictments, jail terms, pandemics, masks, deaths, shootings, vehement denials, inflation, looming recession, attempted assassinations, climate catastrophes and, of course, spamity Spam.


A Blog Post About Flattery and Exclusivity

Readers of this cranky blog know I am nut about following the basic rules of direct marketing. And I have beaten to death this one:


"The 7 Key Copy Drivers in Marketing—the Emotional Hot Buttons that Make People Act:


1. Fear - 2. Greed - 3. Guilt - 4. Anger -

5. Salvation - 6. Flattery - 7. Exclusivity


In the words of the great Seattle direct marketing guru, Bob Hacker, "If you copy isn't dripping with one or more of these hot buttons, tear it up and start over.


The first five — Fear - Greed - Guilt - Anger - Salvation — are obvious.


Those last two — Exclusivity and Flattery — are more subtle.


Frankly, I feel very flattered to be included in Christie's exclusive elite private circle of millionaire art collectors.


 About "Flattery" — Axel's Story


My great friend, guru, teacher was Axel Anderson. Axel was a stocky little Swede with a cherubic face and a shock of wavy white hair. He cut his Terry-Thomas teeth on direct marketing under the guidance of the legendry Ed Mayer in New York.


Following World War II Axel moved to Hamburg, Germany where he bought a correspondence school business. He offered courses in languages, writing and art to name a few. Single-handedly he turned the Axel Andersson Akademy into the largest operation of its kind in Europe if not the world.


After 30 years he sold out and moved to Florida so he could indulge in his passions: warm weather and studying direct mail.


Axel’s retirement beat:

• Florida (walking the beach two hours a day)

• Visiting the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (where he pored over obscure tomes on marketing)

• Europe (to visit clients)

• Stamford, Connecticut (and later Philly) to spend hours prowling through Peggy’s and my WHO’S MAILING WHAT! archive of junk mail.


Andersson cut a deal with me whereby I would send him all my leftover mail—the dupes and purges that would otherwise be thrown out of our massive WHO'S MAILING WHAT! library of direct mail samples.


I probably sent Andersson 30,000 mailings a year.


He rented a whole house in Palm Harbor just to house his collection.


Where my archive was maintained by category and alphabetically by mailer, his was filed by technique. He segmented envelopes, letters, brochures, lift pieces and off-the-page mail order advertising.


Where many of us are binge watchers of TV series, Axel was a binge reader of junk mail.


Many of the pieces in his collection were covered with tiny handwritten notes in Swedish, German and English.


One month Axel went on a binge studying the ledes—headlines or Johnson boxes—of successful direct mail letters to discover how copywriters grabbed the readers' attention.


He read the first page of 1141 letters and made notes on the emotional hot buttons. His breakthrough discovery:


In 42% of the letters Axel analyzed,
The primary Hot Button was "Flattery."


How Christie's Continually Flatters Me


Typical junk mail appeals to greed and financial stress: "Save on this item..." "You poor schlub, it's easy to borrow money"... "Never ever again pay this much for..." "Only pay for what you need!..." "How to refinance your credit card debt..." blah, blah, blah.


From Christie's to Denny Hatch


Okay, I'll admit it's a real kick to be invited by Christie's to bid at auctions of great works of art selling for upward of $65 million. An Ego Trip!


Many, many years ago when I was just out of the Army and making $90 a week, I was living in a fourth floor $60-a-month walk-up railroad flat in Manhattan. I signed up to do some flunky work for a United Nations hospitality committee. I was invited to a swanky U.N. gathering at a Fifth Avenue luxury apartment. I had no idea who lived there, but of course I wore my best suit and tie and made small talk with the ladies and gentlemen.


I distinctly remember looking up and catching sight of a beautiful little painting. I didn't think much of it as I was busy "networking." A little later I found myself next to that painting and realized it looked like a Renoir. On closer inspection, I saw that it was indeed a Renoir! Wow! I'd only seen Renoirs at the Met and MOMA! I began looking at the artwork in various rooms and realized I was in a magnificent private mini-museum and was surrounded by world class art. Where was I?


It was the home of Barbara "Babe" Cushing Mortimer Paley, recently separated wife of broadcasting mogul, CBS founder and CEO, William S. Paley.



Suffice it to say I was dazzled.


Takeaways to Consider

• If I were ever hired to write copy to generate prospects for Christie's (or Sotheby's), the two key copy drivers (emotional hot buttons) to test would be Flattery and Exclusivity.


To review the bidding: The Seven Key Copy Drivers (emotional hot button that make people act/change their behavior) are:

Fear - Greed - Guilt - Anger -
Exclusivity - Salvation - Flattery.


• "If you copy is not positively dripping with one or more of these hot buttons, tear it up and start over. —Bob Hacker



Word count: 1189




The Most Fun You Can Have
In the English Language
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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  1. Such a delightful read in my inbox today, especially about Axel and his dm research. Fascinating stuff!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment. My one serious wish: I with the news were not so grim and the probable future so bleak.
      Do keep in touch.