Can You Steal Your Way to Riches?


Willie Sutton famously said that he robbed banks because that’s where the money is. Over 40 years he stole over $2 million dollars. He ended up spending over half his life in prison.

Every day, would-be marketers are stealing other people’s advertising and trying to put it to work for their own businesses.

Why not just copy from great ads?  For at least two reasons.

  1. When you copy someone else’s work, their voice is on it, not yours.  If people are at all familiar with your writing, they’ll recognize that it’s not you doing the writing and your credibility will suffer.
  2. Ads created from swipes tend to have a Frankenstein quality to them.  Even people new to you will catch the incoherence.  There’s a little of this, a little of that, and after a while, there’s nothing that holds a swiped ad together.  It becomes a jumble of voices that sound more like a crowded subway car than a persuasive piece of advertising.

The great Doug D’Anna once said about swiping an ad that that ad worked for that product for that company at that time in history.  That doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Why collect swipes?  Because they have great value for instruction and inspiration.  Many first-rate copywriters recommend copying great ads word for word for the neurological imprinting purposes.  At the very least, study great ads.

Pay attention to the words and phrases, and the moves that the copywriter makes from one element to the next.  The best education in advertising after practice is absorbing the best work of the great masters of the craft.

Some copywriters keep physical files of great ads. Others keep their swipes on their computers. Some of the most dedicated keep both. Some even keep swipe files on their phones! You never know when or where you’re going to come across some great advertising.

Here’s a great (and free) website for advertising copywriters: On this site you’ll find ads, advertortials, direct mail, sales pages, and much more.

Five Great Ads for Your Swipe File

Here are five great ads to get you started.

This is one of Gary Bencivigena’s best.  Bump up the sizing so that you can fully take in this masterpiece.


Mel Martin has been called the “Master of Fascinations.”  Here’s one of his fascinating ads:



Eugene Schwartz was a remarkable man and a remarkable copywriter.  Here’s one of his best:


Gary Halbert was one of the best, and this is one of his best ads.


Love him, hate him, whatever, Trump got Scott Haines to write a great ad for Trump University.


Do you have a favorite ad that isn’t mentioned above?  Include it in a comment below.

I welcome your comments and questions and your likes and shares.



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