“It is the Reader's Digest mission to create products that inform, enrich, entertain and inspire people of all ages and cultures around the world. We are committed to understanding, anticipating and satisfying our customers' needs. This takes precedence in all we do.” [Reader's Digest Customer Care]
Asked why so many people around the world read their publication, David Ogilvy paid tribute to Reader's Digest in an article titled Confessions of a Magazine Reader.
He agreed to do it because he regarded The Digest as a major force in the world. In return for his work, The Digest made a donation to Fetter, the Scottish school which gave him an education through a full scholarship.
A few notable highlights of what Ogilvy wrote (his italics):
"[...] The editors of The Digest are in possession of a remarkable technique: they know how to present complicated subjects in a way that engages the reader.
This gives The Digest's editors great influence in the world. they put their influence to admirable use.
[...] The instinct of these editors is towards clarity of expression.[...]
[...] I seldom read a highbrow magazine without wishing that a Digest editor had worked his will upon it. I would them find it more readable. The Digest articles are never long-winded, never obscure, never boring."
I also admire the editors' courage. They have the guts to open their readers' minds on delicate subjects. They grasp nettles. Like venereal disease, cancer, mental illness. They are not humorless prigs. Their sense of humor is uproarious. They make me laugh.
[...] the ingenious way they write the titles on their articles. They pique your curiosity -- and they promise to satisfy it. For example:
What Truckers Say About Your Driving
Professional drivers sound off on the most common -- and dangerous -- faults of the amateur
[...] I have discovered that more than half the battle is to write headlines which grab people's attention and force them to read the copy. I learned how to do it by studying headlines in The Digest.
[...] The International editions of The Digest carry more or less the same articles as the U.S. editions. The editors have discovered that the subjects which are important to people in Iowa, California and New York are equally important to people in France, Tokyo and Rio.
Thus is comes about that Digest editors have a profound influence in people who are free to read hat they want. This magazine exports the best in American life."
This is memorable writing in its simplicity. The message is very explicit, in plain view. It is a testimonial and a recommendation rolled into one. It is what great copy communicates. It's never boring, it doesn't have a prescribed number of words and paragraphs.
It signals engagement at the highest level. And pulls you right in. I already subscribe to Reader's Digest, I would if I didn't after reading this article. [hat tip to Rich Becker]
The Digest keeps its promise. Today at Fast Company Expert blogs we talk about how customers speak the language of advertising, do you?