The Timeless Appeal of Bill Bonner’s “International Living” Ad: A Breakdown 

By  Csaba Borzasi

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about Agora Financial before.

They're a 1 BILLION dollar+ company that specializes exclusively in direct response marketing...

And it's THE place to be for the best copywriters on the planet.

However, even though Agora is such a powerhouse today...

Not many people know about its humble beginnings.

It all started in 1979...

When founder & superstar copywriter Bill Bonner wrote an unusual sales letter that launched Agora's first publication, International Living.

This one's a really strange ad...

But it's definitely worth studying because we can learn so much from it.

(it's no wonder that this exact ad was running profitably for 30+ years!)

Prefer video instead? Watch Below!

Can You Start An Ad Without A Headline?

Surprisingly, Bill Boner adopted an unusual and creative approach with his lead.

Instead of starting with a headline, the ad takes the reader to an idealized world of beauty, surrounded by oceans and served with delicious food in bed.

By painting this dreamscape, Bill Boner is able to grab the reader's attention and pique their interest in learning more.

"Imagine living in paradise for half the cost of your current lifestyle," Bill Boner says.

This statement is sure to make anyone curious about how such a thing is possible.

Wouldn’t you be interested in learning more?

And because the ad is written as a story, it is naturally more engaging and interesting to read.

Sometimes it's totally OK to break the "traditional" rules of copywriting in order to grab the reader's attention and make your message stand out.

If you think that you should always begin your promo with a headline, Bill Bonner has you in for a surprise!

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How Bill Bonner Is Painting The Dream

First class travel opportunities for less than half the fare.

Castles for sale in Ireland.
Villas on undiscovered Islands in the Pacific.

The reader immediately thinks he is missing out on the wonderful opportunities if he doesn’t explore them.

The “International Living” ad makes the reader visualize a luxurious lifestyle with little to no financial limitations.

Furthermore, the ad highlights how others are rejoicing in a lucrative lifestyle for half the usual fare by applying techniques from the magazine.

Isn’t that an irresistible offer?

By offering the promise of a different world, the ad keeps the audience intrigued and curious about what is possible.

It opens the doors of possibility for those who are struggling in their current lives and simply trying to survive.

To make these promises believable, Bill backs them with stories of people who have successfully achieved their dream lives after applying the tips and techniques from the magazine.

Bill Bonner’s Curiosity Inducing Bullets

The ad uses many bullets to build curiosity and desire for the International Living magazine.

It establishes itself as “The ultimate travel magazine”.

If money doesn’t limit these opportunities to an average person, who wouldn’t want them?

Any advertising should take the reader to an idealized state, and this ad does that by keeping the audience imagining themselves in luxurious places like villas, islands, or Hong Kong.

Making these things seem believable and achievable for everyone is what led to the success of the promotion.

Start your own International Business
Retire to a tropical paradise
Buy Prime real Estate in World’s few remaining profitable property markets

If life post-retirement can be this good, who wouldn't want it?

No longer having to worry about soaring health care costs is just one of the many benefits.

All in all, this promotion focused on excitement, fun, and sensory appeal, with the added bonuses of objection handling, discounts, and risk reversal. 

Using persuasion techniques such as appealing to greed and fear of missing out (FOMO) proved to be highly effective, resulting in a 3X ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) on cold traffic.

Even after three decades, this sales letter continued to generate new subscriptions.

That's the power of a well-written sales letter! 

“International living available to anyone, not just the rich and famous, without spending a fortune”

P.S.  Leave a comment below the post with ONE thing you've learned from this amazing sales letter! I read every single response.

P.P.S - The next blog has a VERY special ad breakdown written by one "G.B."...about a very special Ham 😉


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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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