Improve This Advertisement – Recap & Winners!

In my last article, I posed the challenge for readers to improve this advertisement from Philadelphia furniture-retailer, Oskar Huber furniture.  I want to thank all the thoughtful response and input readers sent and congratulations to Tim Turner and Edwin Soler for winning a copy of Mustard Seeds, Shovels and Mountains from the late, great Jim Straw.

By the way, I saw one of the owners of Oskar Huber last week at a local event.  He had not seen the original article and I suggested he do so immediately.  He is a student of direct response marketing and knows better.  Hopefully all the “crowd-sourced” ideas will help him the next time around.


There many very good ideas on how to improve this advertisement and to make it easy for you, I’ve outlined what I thought were the top 10 ways to improve this advertisement. They are in no specific order.

1. Lacks benefit-driven headline to quickly identify who this ad is for and why they need to read it.

2. Light color, small-font text on dark background is hard to read.  Very typical of an agency-designed ad.

3. The copy is “all about me” copy.  It should be focused on the reader – their pains, wants, desires, etc.  Should be written with the affluent buyer in mind.

4. Copy is boring and is void of energy, however serving the Philadelphia area for four generations is definitely a unique value proposition (however I noticed one younger reader did not care about this fact, which is interesting in and of itself).

5. Lacks social proof.  Why not feature a multi-generational customer who has been an Oskar Huber customer for decades?

6. Missing a clear call-to-action.  The discount is a typical, “plain-vanilla” offer.  Generic discounts like this are for groceries, drugstores, and low-end department stores. I don’t think they should be used for high-end stores. Offer something remarkable to get people to respond!

7. No way to track the return on investment of the ad.  There is nothing to “bring into the store.”  There are no codes or special phone numbers.  How will Oskar Huber know this ad generated a response?

8. Should have photos of a happy family enjoying the furniture.  Empty furniture is cold and impersonal.

9. Oskartoberfest is a cute try, but fall flat with this design and copy.  No real tie-in.

10. There is no list-building mechanism in the ad. This means the only measurement of the ads success will be customers who buy and tell the clerk it was THIS ad that brought them in, which is highly doubtful.

A simple solution would be to have the discounts by coupon. Then have the reader go to the web site and register for the coupon. This gives you the prospect’s email and also tells you how many people looked at the offer — as you can track clicks to the site. Then you can see how many actually buy for another valuable stat!!!

If you ran this 6 times in a year you could end up with hundreds of prospects on your email list that you could now send this and other offers to directly, rather than hoping they see it in the paper or magazine.

About Mike Capuzzi

I'm a speaker, author and high impact marketing strategist for business owners and sharp, aggressive entrepreneurs looking to get to the next level in their business. I'm also the the inventor of the world-famous CopyDoodles. CopyDoodles are the world's largest library of handwritten fonts, hand-drawn doodles, comics and more designed to grab attention and boost your marketing results!


  1. Jason Cohen on October 16, 2013 at 9:18 am


    Great thoughts, it would be great to see a fake mockup of how you would make the ad look?

    Would definitely inspire us to work within this model for marketing success?



  2. Ron Huber on October 16, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Mike is right, I should know better! Thanks to everybody who contributed to the direct response marketing critique. Stay tuned for next time!
    Ron Huber

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 16, 2013 at 9:38 am

      Ron – thanks and I hope the feedback was helpful. I am a big Oskar Huber fan!

  3. Tim Turner on October 16, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Thanks Mike! Looking forward to reading the book!

  4. Edwin on October 16, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Mike, thanks for letting me participate in this. I was going to respond immediately when I saw this and then got distracted. By the time I returned, I saw a lot of what I thought was said but decided to participate anyway. So a big lesson I learned is to always participate even if nothing is being offered. It helps to learn from each other. Of course, offering me a free book is a great motivation. So Mike, thanks for the great opportunity to participate.


    PS: I discovered a tool that I started using in my email system that will send emails to anyone that did not open my first message sent. I increased the overall open rate from about 16% to 38%. With just a few changes already mentioned above to this ad, I suspect that the ROI would go through the roof with some follow ups. As Dan Kennedy has said, and I am learning, “the money is not in the first mailing/contact, but the second, third and fourth”.

  5. David on October 16, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I’ve always been amazed by expensive advertising that ignores the principles and tactics that have been well understood and proven by countless tests for over a century. In addition to the incisive comments by other readers, I’d add that the silly pun is useless as a headline and the illustration is dark and dismal. Also, when I see an ad that is all reverse type, I wonder how the advertiser expects the interested reader to scribble a note on it. By pulling out his pen that writes with white ink?

    By the way, I disagree with the suggestion of adding people to the illustration. I’m not sure this has been demonstrated to increase response for furniture (maybe someone can point me to tests).

    Ads like this could never be created if:

    The adman had a basic understanding, e.g., had read Caples, Sackheim, Ogilvy, Collier, and of course Kennedy and Claude Hopkins.

    The advertiser had a basic understanding, so that he would never sign off on such useless ads. An ad like this is a “ten-foot ad”, a term I coined. That means you can see at 10 feet that it’s garbage.

    The adman and advertiser checked the proposed ad against a checklist of offer, text, format. Pilots use checklists to make sure they haven’t forgotten something basic. They serve other professions well also.

    • Mike Capuzzi on October 16, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Dave – thanks for comments.

      RE: pictures of people + furniture vs. just furniture – It would be my opinion that a photo of happy-looking people enjoying the furniture would outpull a picture than one with nobody in it. Interestingly, I had a conversation with Ron Huber about this and his comment was that the manufacturers’ stock photos typically don’t include people in them, which in some respects essentially supports my notion.

  6. Here on October 16, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Problem, not. Benefit, for a headline. Until you feel some pain, why care about benefits?

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