"They laughed when I sat down at the piano..."

David Aaker, author of the book Brand Relevance, highlights the above ad (for piano correspondence courses from the U.S. School of Music) in a recent blog post. His point is that this ad does a marvelous job of telling a story about the product offering, without going into excruciating details about the instructional process or the functional benefits.  As Aaker puts it:

Most remarkable, the ad shows that functional benefits are not the sweet spot of persuasion and communication. Rather, what grabs people are emotional, self-expressive and social benefits. There is the emotion felt not only by the piano player who excelled in a pressure context, but by those hearing the story that are bursting with pride that he did it. There is the self-expressive benefit, the ability of the person to express his talent, his perseverance, and his ability to face down doubters and those that ridiculed. And there is the social benefit when the man becomes not only accepted into a desirable reference group but also becomes an admired member.

The ad, incidentally, is discussed in a new book entitled The 100 Greatest Advertisements 1852-1958: Who Wrote Them and What They Did by Julian Lewis Watkins.