Claude Hopkins Schlitz Beer Campaign Is “Pure” Advertising Genius

First and foremost, if you are in marketing or advertising in any form and haven’t read scientific advertising by Claude Hopkins, you need to do that immediately. David Ogilvy, one of the greatest ad men to ever live said no one should be able to get near advertising until they have read scientific advertising 7 times. Enough said.

Now that I got that off my chest, let’s carry on… My wayward son. (Sorry) 

Claude Hopkins, born in 1866, is said to be the father of modern advertising and is without a doubt one of its pioneers. There is so much to say about Claude, but I have a story to tell you about how he proved his genius with Schlitz Brewing Company, and what you can learn from it.

The Story

In the early 1900s, Schlitz Brewing Company had the #8 beer in America, though some articles say they were higher than that, between #10-15, regardless of the number, they were struggling. 

They hadn’t given up and were fighting and clawing with their advertising to gain traction and close in on their competitors, but nothing was working. 

At the time, Claude Hopkins was already becoming a legend, and it seemed there wasn’t a product he couldn’t sell. 

So, Schlitz hired Claude to see if he could help. 

Back in those days, many advertising agencies relied heavily on the really in-your-face advertising, ya know, the ones that are in all caps and look like they are yelling at you to buy… Or else. 

To make matters worse, they were all saying the exact same thing. The beer is pure, the beer is pure. This obviously just numbed the public to not think anything of it, and so people were most likely buying based on price or which beer label looked the best. 

Like any great copywriter, Claude felt it essential to know the product well before writing sales copy, so he went to Schlitz brewery for a tour. 

While on the tour he was told that the rooms where the beer was processed had filtered air so while the beer was cooling it wouldn’t be exposed to any impurities. 

He was also shown gigantic filters that were filled with white-wood pulp which was some of the best for a high-quality filtering process. They also explained how extensively all the equipment was cleaned and that the bottles the beer went in were sterilized a whopping four times before they were filled. 

Claude was also shown the wells that gave the purest waters available for the beer. These wells were 4,000 feet deep. 

He was then shown the extent of experiments that went into making the beer’s yeast, to give the best possible flavor. 

After learning everything about the beer-making process and filtration system, Hopkins said “ My God, Why don’t you tell people in your advertising about these steps you are taking to brew your beer”. 

To which Schlitz replied, “All companies brew their beer about the same way.” 

Then Claude replied, “ Yes, but the first one to tell the public about this process will gain a big advantage.”

So, what happened? 

Claude Hopkins ran ads explaining these filtering and sterilizing processes to the customers to PROVE their beer was pure, and within 6 months, Schlitz was the best-selling beer in the country and continued to be for a long time after I might add. 

You Don’t Always Have To Be Better, Just Be First

When it comes to marketing and advertising, being first is more important than being better. Since we’re on the subject of beer, Heineken was the first imported beer to have popularity in the States after World War 2, and because of this, Heineken was the number one selling imported beer in America for four decades. 

Miller Lite was the first domestic light beer. Who do you think has been the top dog in the light beer game all this time? Yep. Miller Lite. 

I guess Ricky Bobby was right, if ya ain’t first, you’re last. 

But, just because you think of or say something first doesn’t mean it will be a success, it just means your chances increase. It leaves everyone behind you looking like a copycat. There’s no downside to being able to say “I did it first”. 

This Works For Anything You’re Selling 

If you are selling a product or service, this method presented by Claude Hopkins is viable. You can always find something about what you’re selling that no one has said. 

And guess what…

It doesn’t have to mean a whole lot. 

What Claude Hopkins said about Schlitz beer was LITERALLY what every beer company was doing already, but he made it known first. That’s what matters. Be the first to tell people. 

I hope you’re seeing the marketing gold here because if you can dive deep enough into your product or service, you will find something no one is saying, but people want to hear.

You have to set yourself apart. That is truly what cuts out the competition. Make what you’re selling in a league of its own by explaining details other companies haven’t, and you will win.
The fact that Claude Hopkins thought of this so quickly in the advertising game is “pure” proof of his genius. Go check out some of the ads here.

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