I love rediscovering hidden treasure.
Someone “liked” an old Facebook post of mine from 2016, in the group The Gary Halbert Copy Club.
And I may or may not have ever published this as a Breakthrough Marketing Secrets article. But even if I did, it’s been years — so I figured it’d be like rediscovering it for you, as much as it was for me.
Here’s the post…
I’m posting this with Bond’s blessing, as a way to contribute value on my first day here.
A few years back, while digging through the archives of The Gary Halbert Letter, I stumbled on Gary’s BIG Idea post…
In that newsletter, Gary tells a story in which he definitely earns the title of “head shitweasel,” while also revealing the inner workings of a marketing genius.
You are required to read the story.
But I’m still going to summarize enough here to setup what I’m giving you.
Basically, Gary knew that Tova Borgnine had wanted to create a perfume for a long time. And Gary took the most brilliant shortcut to hand her the perfect fragrance in a little glass bottle. (Read the friggin’ story.)
Gary’s first move, in itself, gave birth to a perfume that would be immediately in-demand, and stand the test of time.
But Gary didn’t stop there.
Long before Jeff Walker and PLF, Gary knew how to launch a product.
Gary proceeded to set up a launch event for Tova Perfume that would make it the talk of LA — and then, the talk of the nation.
Gary rented out the Century Plaza Hotel. With Tova, he set up to give away 100,000 sample bottles of her perfume.
But he had to make people really, really want it. Enough to drive across LA and stand in line at the hotel to get it.
What happened next deserves a spot in a crystal case in the entryway of the Direct Response Copywriting Hall Of Fame.
Gary wrote a space ad to run in the LA TIMES, to drive people to the Century Plaza Hotel for the giveaway.
You probably know the headline, but very, very few of even Gary’s most rabid followers have found the ad itself.
FREE PERFUME GIVEAWAY!
Mrs. Ernest Borgnine Agrees To Give
Away 100,000 Free Samples Of
Her New Perfume Just To Prove It Is
Safe To Wear In Public!
Wife of famous actor swears under oath that her new
perfume does not contain an illegal sexual stimulant.
WOW! Now doesn’t that make you want to read what’s next?
Well, I scoured the internets. For months. Just trying to find this dang ad.
I couldn’t find it ANYWHERE.
Even the best Gary Halbert swipes I could find were missing this one ad.
Then, I had an idea.
The ad ran in the LA TIMES.
At the time, you could access the LA TIMES archives through Google (I can’t find it today).
And in fact, you could SEARCH the LA TIMES archives, looking for specific text that appeared in the newspaper.
And in fact, Google’s computers had even indexed the text of ADS that appeared in the LA TIMES, so you could search for text that had appeared in ads.
You’re starting to get the idea, I hope…
Well, once I was on this trail, it didn’t take long.
I was actually able to get access to Gary’s ORIGINAL Tova Perfume ad — the stuff of legend — as it appeared in the LA TIMES.
I downloaded the PDF.
I sent it to the Halbert bros, because at this time Gary himself was already gone.
I dug up my original email, to which Kevin responded, “That’s awesome. I don’t think we had it.” Copy-and-paste quote. Even his sons hadn’t seen a copy of the ad in their archives.
I’m telling you — this thing was about to be lost to history.
But I found it.
And not only was the strategy Gary at his most glorious….
The copywriting in this ad is beyond compare.
A preposterously outrageous claim. Never made overtly. But through what it refuses to say, it makes the claim 100X as powerfully as if it came out and said it.
Multiple very interesting copy mechanisms that are worth adding to your secret weapons.
And, friggin’ hilarious.
When you imagine the head shitweasel sitting there with his yellow legal pad, scribbling away at this…
You can’t help but think he was writing half of it to crack himself up…
Thinking, “Tova will never let me run this, and if she does, the TIMES is going to have a heart attack…”
But then making them both run it anyway, because he was Sir Gary of Halbert, the Prince of Print.
I could go on all day, but I’ve already spent too much time, so let me tell you about your gift.
I’m going to link you to NOT ONE, BUT THREE PDF files, each containing the ad.
The first is “clean” — meaning it’s just the ad, in all its naked glory.
The second and third are my analysis of the ad.
For one, I did a “deep structure” analysis, that was more about the structure of the sales argument and presentation. This is something that separates novices from pros. Getting the skeleton right goes a long way to having a winning finished piece.
Then, I did a line-by-line analysis. This is what most novice copywriters want to see. Words and phrases that can be swiped. Why they worked. All the superficial stuff.
This ad was an impeccable example of both, so it deserved both treatments.
These two PDFs are full of comments — you can read them by hovering over the little sticky notes.
This is the kind of ad you study, and study, and study. Even if you never try to match Gary’s distinct “shitweasel” style, emulating the substance will lead to some huge wins.
So, without any further ado, here are links to each on my Dropbox…
DEEP STRUCTURE [removed link to document with my analysis, available to BTMSinsiders members]
LINE BY LINE [removed link to document with my analysis, available to BTMSinsiders members]
I promise to keep these up for a while, but I also reserve the right to take them down at any time. So if you want them, get them now. And if they’re gone, that’s it. Shoulda found ’em faster. 🙂
Oh yeah, and now that you have the free gift, go back and read Gary’s original story about the creation of this masterpiece.
PS: So I went to ol’ reliable Google after writing this but before hitting the “Post” button, and searched for “tova china musk.” Just, you know, a little curiosity. (Read the friggin’ article, and it will make sense.)
I land on a blog post about Tova’s changing perfume scents, and find this comment in a long list of comments complaining that they want the ORIGINAL TOVA (created by Sir Gary of Halbert, eau de toilette aficionado) back….
“OK!!! Found a perfume that smells almost EXACTLY like TOVA original!!! I read on another blog about a company called Beyond Scents and their signature fragrance CHINA MUSK. I just received mine and I could not believe it when I got to the mail box and opened the door I said OMG it’s TOVA! It smells exactly like it to me. I swear the chemist that worked on original Tova, must work for Beyond Scents, ha!!! I think I paid $14 and I’m getting ready to order 2 more for family members. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Just search for Beyond Scents they have a great website and it says on the front page that China Musk is known to smell like Tova and it DOES!!!
Hope this helps original TOVA lovers!”
Another more pretentious perfume lover said…
“The oil, china musk by terra nova, is great. its very very small but very close to the original tova. its about 95% close to tova, just is a slight 4% less sweet.”
4% less sweet indeed! Must be because it’s missing that extra little Halbert magic!!
Pretty incredible, huh?
If you like this kind of X-ray vision into copy and the deep structure behind effective copy, you should seriously be a BTMSinsiders member.
Check out the latest 5-star review I got for High-Velocity Copywriting…
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I can now see why Roy is considered an A+ Copywriter… Because this is truly an A+ Course!
The Research and Productivity Strategies are immensely helpful. But Roy really overdelivers by teaching the 3 types of BIG IDEAS and taking you step-by-step through the HVC Structure.
Using mind maps, he drills a new pathway into your brain and begins filling it up with his A+ copywriting wisdom.
Then, once you’re pleasantly stuffed with golden nuggets of value, he countersinks the nail of knowledge deep into your memory by walking you through 3 HVC Templates and a 20-Point Outline from the legendary Clayton Makepeace.
I highly recommend this course as one of your first lessons!
by Michael Gibbs
Again, you get that plus every other training in the catalog with a BTMSinsiders membership.
It is, by far, the absolute best value in marketing and copywriting training.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,