Reverse-Engineering David Ogilvy’s Famous “Man In A Hathaway Shirt” Ad 

By  Csaba Borzasi

One of the BEST ways to become a world-class copywriter is to study & reverse-engineer winning copywriting samples.

Samples that have brought in millions & millions of dollars in all sorts of niches you can think of...

Info products. Books. Physical goods. Coaching services. Investment advise... you name it.

My mission?

To uncover WHY they work, WHAT makes them so damn effective, and HOW I can replicate their success when it comes to my (and my clients') marketing campaigns.

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(trust me, just a single idea from these breakdowns could easily land you a paying gig and show that you know your stuff!)

So far, I've analyzed 32 proven sales letters...

And today I want to share with you my latest one:

David Ogilvy's famous "Man in a Hathaway Shirt" ad.

If you haven't heard of David Ogilvy yet... he's basically the guy who Don Draper (from the hit TV series "Mad Men") was modeled after.

This case study is super beginner-friendly... so it's perfect for you even if you're new to copywriting.

(but you'll also find several advanced lessons inside)

Prefer video instead? Watch Below!

How David Ogilvy Appeals To The Ideal Self-Image 


The ad copy is accompanied by a picture of the model wearing the Hathaway shirt. 

He appears cool, calm, and attractive. 

David Ogilvy sells the idea of looking just like the model wearing the Hathaway shirt. This association with the image makes the copy catch your attention instantly.

In addition to that, David came up with the idea of covering the eye of the model with an eye patch.

Initially, the idea wasn’t taken seriously - but it proved successful when tested. People got curious and wanted to learn about the Hathaway shirt.

And thus, the creative streak of David Ogilvy led to the success of the promotion.

This is why creative freedom plays a huge role in copywriting and marketing. Ideas must be tested to see which ones will prove successful, instead of being laughed down without testing.

Is there a "secret recipe" behind the most profitable sales letters of all time?

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What Makes The Hathaway Shirts So Special?

David Ogilvy sells the idea of a young and classy look, when wearing the Hathaway shirt.

The shirts themselves have been getting popular because of their supreme quality and appealing look…

They help you appear more confident and look masculine… 

The shirt is comfortable, the stitching is elegant, the fabric is remarkable as it is imported from the four corners of the world…

Woven by skilled craftsmen, these shirts are a class of their own.

Hopefully this illustrated the principle of “show, don’t tell”. David does an amazing job of highlighting the uniqueness and quality, as well as positioning the Hathaway shirt as exquisite.

In addition to the shirts, the process and attention to detail are being highlighted, which ultimately establishes the brand image.

David Ogilvy appeals to the core desires of dominance, elegance, and exclusivity of the target audience.

How To Sell Value Like David Ogilvy

Now let’s look at the overall structure of the ad.

To engage the audience, David Oglivy comes up with a unique idea and takes the reader to their idealized state through sensory appeal.

People want to feel special and he shows how the Hathaway shirt makes you look and feel distinguished.

By sharing the attention to detail of the preparation process, he establishes credibility and highlights the unique selling proposition effectively.

Plus, he utilizes not one, but two visual props, the eye-patch and the gun, to capture the reader’s attention - which in turn leads to actually reading through the ad.

As marketers and copywriters, the success of the promotion lies in showing the prospect how your product can take them to their idealized state.

David Ogilvy achieves these outcomes successfully.

In order for a similar promotion to be successful in these times, the model would probably be athletic and tall, and the shirt style should be slim fit as per the current fashion trends.

Nevertheless, David Ogilvy’s genius copywriting is absolutely evergreen.


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Just tell me where to send your FREE 7-part guide today and I’ll hook you up ASAP.

PLUS: You’ll also get my mega-popular Secret Copy Recipe” cheat sheet... Along with a free subscription to private newsletter breaking down legendary sales letters in detailed video essays each week...

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Interested in more great content on copywriting? Check out my Copywriting Resource Hub where you'll find in-depth guides, interesting case studies, and practical resources that will help you boost your conversions and sell more, without being salesy or aggressive.

Csaba Borzasi

Csaba Borzási is the founder of Game of Conversions. After spending 10 years learning the ins and outs of persuasion psychology, Csaba now focuses on what he loves most: helping ambitious entrepreneurs grow their online business and get more profitable customers. When he isn't geeking out on discovering how the human mind works, you can probably find him climbing a mountain, dancing salsa, or traveling around the globe.

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