A Forerunner to the Wall Street Journal’s "Two Young Men" Ad

wsjFrom 1999 till 2005 I ran a discussion group with many of today’s top marketers and copywriters.  Not only did we exchange great ideas but also great finds.   In 2003 I happened upon what seemed to be a predecessor of the “Two Young Men” ad that the WSJ has consistently used.

This ad was printed in 1919.

Unfortunately the original format of the ad is impossible to replicate in text format. The ad was originally in three columns with headline on top and coupon to send in. It was a full page ad in a magazine.

This lead generation ad is VERY well done.

Great use of current events (many men had just returned from WWI) and tie-ins to history.

Use of contrast by using the “Two Men” type story that was later used in the greatest sales letter of all time.

And lot’s more….

What are some of the things you notice?

========> Start Ad

The Story Of Two Men Who Fought In The Civil War

From a certain little town in Massachusetts two men went to the Civil
War. Each of them had enjoyed the same educational advantages, and so
far as anyone could judge, their prospects for success were equally

One man accumulated a fortune. The other spent his last years almost
entirely dependent upon his children for support.

He has “had hard luck,” the town explained. He “never seemed to catch
hold after the war.”

But the other man did not “lose his grip.” He seemed to experience no
difficulty in “catching hold” after the war.

The differences in the two men was not a difference of capacity but a
difference in decision. One man saw the after-the-war tide of
expansion, trained himself for executive opportunity, and so swam with
the tide. The other man merely drifted. The history of these two men
will be repeated in hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few

After Every War Come The Great Successes –
and Great Failures

Is your future worth half an hour’s serious thought? If it is, then
take down a history of the United States. You will discover this
unmistakable truth:

Opportunity does not flow in a steady stream, like a river- it comes
and goes in great tides.

There was a high tide after the Civil War; and then came the panic of

There was a high tide after the Spanish War; and then came the panic
of 1907.

There is a high tide now; and those who seize it need not fear what
may happen when the tide recedes. The wisest men in this country are
putting themselves now beyond the reach of fear – into the executive
positions that are indispensable.

Weak Men Go Down In Critical Years
– Strong Men Grow Stronger

If you are in your twenties, or your thirties, or your early forties,
there probably never will be another such critical year for you as
this year, 1919.

Looking back on it, ten years hence, you will say: “That was the
turning point.”

Thousands of the wise and thoughtful men of this country have
anticipated the coming of this period and prepared for it.

They have trained themselves for the positions which business cannot
do without, thru the Alexander Hamilton Institute Modern Business
Course and Service.

The Institute is THE American Institution which has proved its power
to lift men into the higher executive positions.

These Men Have Already Decided To Go Forward

Among the 75,000 men enrolled in the Institute’s Course, 13,534 are
presidents of corporations; 2,826 are vice-presidents; 5,372 are
secretaries; 2,652 treasurers; 11,260 managers, 2,626 sales-managers,
2,876 accountants, according to figures compiled a year ago.

Men like these, have proved the Institute’s power: E.R. Behrend,
President of the Hammermill Paper Co.; N.A. Hawkins, Manager of Sales,
Ford Motor Co.; William D’Arcy, President of the Associated
Advertising Clubs of the World; Melville W. Mix, President of the
Dodge Manufacturing Co., and scores of others.

Men, who have trained themselves to seize opportunity, will make these
after-war years count tremendously.

You, too, can make them count for you.

Send For This Book. There is a
Vision In It For You Of Your Future

To meet the needs of thoughtful men, the Alexander Hamilton Institute
has published a 112-page book “Forging Ahead in Business.” It is free;
the coupon will bring it to you.

Send for your copy of “Forging Ahead in Business” now, while your mind
is on it. You could not seize the chance that came after ’65 or ’98.
But it will be your fault if ten years from now you say: “I could have
gone on to success with 75,000 others, and I did not even

Fill in the coupon and mail.

(Coupon here)

================> End Ad

To read the original 2003 post visit:


(Membership Required) – Send email to docsulo at gmail dot com with your name if you’d like to get access.

Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Christopher Tomasulo

Read These Posts and Develop Alien-Like Persuasive Powers

Learn about Roy Williams concept of “Seussing” and how you can use it to turn advertising from boring and bland to exciting and unique. Also find out about a boatload of Dr. Seuss illustrated ads that you can add to your swipe file. Continue reading

In 1924 a George Burton Hotchkiss copywriting book suggests that people use social proof in ad copy but calls it “imitative suggestion”. Are imitative suggestion and social proof the same and are they a form of hypnosis? Continue reading

October monthly update that includes a story on how the massive success of the Salty Droid blog has spawned a bunch of clones that make a mockery of the robot. Also how a motivational blog post by Frank Kern is really a disguised pitch. And finally some feedback I received on the Bill Bonner Video Sales Letter Post. Continue reading

No related posts.

About Christopher Tomasulo

At home Christopher Tomasulo is your average dad with three kids. However, here at Covert Comm he is known as “Doc Sulo” and he mind-warps crowds with a tiny flutter of his left hand. He clothespins ideas to unsuspecting gray matter. He speaks lemon-yellow words that splash into ear canals and squeeze themselves into refreshing influence lemonade. It has also been said he's half-way decent at making complex persuasion and influence techniques simple.
This entry was posted in Ad Men, Classic Advertisements and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Forerunner to the Wall Street Journal’s "Two Young Men" Ad

  1. Pingback: Ryan M. Healy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *