Ben Settle

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File under: Copywriting & Sales Letters

“I think I bought something like 3.2 million pages of comic book advertising a year. It worked beautifully.”

— Harold von Braunhut
Inventor of the Sea-Monkeys

True story:

When I was packing to move to elBenbo’s Bluff a few months ago, I fished through my comicbooks. And, as any self-respecting copywriting fanboy would do… I started looking at all the ads that stretch back to the 1950’s through the mid 2000’s when I stopped collecting. And as I poured through these ads, I was reminded by how the ads in the 50’s through the 70’s were almost entirely direct-response and, frankly, some of the best ads I’ve ever seen. I have since done some intense research on the ads of that time, and it was no surprise at all that some of these advertisers literally became mail-order millionaires with a single ad that ran through various titles every month.

Granted, many of those ads were pure fraud, selling lies, and using deceit.

And, played on the gullibility of kids and teenagers (and adults…)

Take, for example, the infamous — and notorious — Sea-Monkeys ads.

The Sea-Monkeys were fried up in the mind of one Harold von Braunhut — a man of questionable virtue and ideology.

Anyway, “Sea-Monkeys” were simply a species of brine shrimp.

But they were packaged, sold, and marketed as literally pets that live in their own magical-looking kingdom, that you can observe for hours in a bowl, endlessly fascinated by them — complete with illustrations (drawn by a popular comicbook artist of the day) in the ads showing humanoid-like creatures, living in a castle, underwater.

In other words:

They were utter bull shyt.

But, that didn’t stop people from buying them by the millions.

Or from Hollywood creating a TV show about them.

Or, from being so embedded in popular culture (even to this day) they’ve shown up on The Simpsons and even in a South Park episode.

All as a result of the fascinating ads used to sell them.

Now, I cannot say for sure.

But, I’d bet the Sea-Monkeys ads were the single most profitable and effective comicbook ads ever created. Maybe Charles Atlas’ ads did better. But, I’m putting my money on the Sea-Monkeys for sheer cultural impact.

Same with many comicbook ads back then.

Those copywriters knew how to tap into your soul, and create an itch you HAD to scratch to the point of kids begging parents for the $1.00 to send away for the product, and adults blowing their paychecks.

Now, “flash-forward” a decade to the 80’s:

Comicbooks stopped accepting “Sea-Monkeys” kind of ads.

Instead, they sold only to big corporate accounts, churning out the usual boring big corporate ads. And (I suspect) bringing comicbook companies more revenue without the stigma of selling fraudulent products that preyed on the naiveness of children and grownups alike.

Which brings me to the small reveal:

One of the purely selfish reasons I am testing 3rd party ads in “Email Players” is because I want to see a return of “Sea-Monkey” advertising, that fascinates and delights my Horde, but while selling legitimate products & services my readers can really use, sold via the powerful, bold, and, yes, “Sea-Monkey” style ads of yore — with irresistible offers people will love reading and buying from.

Thus, why I call these ads a “back door swipe file.”

It’s my vision to make “Email Players” serve both as a Sea-Monkey kind of swipe file and a source of offers that improve all our businesses, while also making advertisers a lot of money, without worrying if Facebook, Google, etc will nuke their ads on sight.

(Three of the four ads would never be accepted in a million years by the popular ad platforms.)

Will my dream come to fruition?

That remains to be seen as I conduct this paid ad test in the upcoming June issue.

But, you’ll see this kind of advertising in action in these 4 ads.

And, I suspect, many smart people will take advantage of the offers they make.

To subscribe in time before the deadline around the corner, go here:

Ben Settle

  • Book & Tabloid Newsletter Publisher
  • Email Supremacist
  • Alt-Copywriter
  • Software Investor
  • Pulp Novelist

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