Fear, shame, guilt, doubt, alienation… and a Suffragette in a pear tree

Every now and then I stumble across something that’s an absolute gem, in terms of art, cultural history, persuasion, propaganda, and outrage. 

Teenage boy gazing sadly out of a window at rainy landscape

Emotional hooks are a great way to write captivating copy.

The other day, my friend Jenn shared something on Facebook that is all of those things.

It’s a collection of anti-Suffragette postcards produced in the early 1900s to fight the movement to give women the vote and it is an absolute masterclass in persuasion and propaganda.

Take a look at how the creators used fear, guilt, shame, doubt, and alienation to pick up momentum for the anti-women brigade. Some of the postcards are aimed at men; those play on men’s fears of emasculation and irrelevance, as well as the possibility they may not hold all the power and dominance for ever.

Others are aimed at women, shaming them into staying in the kitchen, frightening them with the idea that if they become a Suffragette they’re “ugly, bitter, and angry”. (Something that still holds true today when people talk about feminists, even in jest. Which is always hilarious.)

You can learn an awful lot about emotional copywriting from these postcards, so do take a look.

If you want to write effective copy, you absolutely need to get your head around emotional hooks and how to use them. Which is something I can help with.

Enjoy the postcards!



Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS I love vintage ads. They’re often outrageous as well as really effective. I’m building a nice little collection of them, with a little commentary about why they’re good or bad, or simply why I love them. I’m thinking of turning them into a little video series…

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