Today’s Illustration: An Overnight Millionaire Selling . . . . . !

See the source image 300,000 Pairs Sold In One Month

Joe Sugarman was the man who wrote the copy for . . . .“BluBlockers.”

Joe Sugarman was the “copywriter”* for the BluBlcoker sunglasses television ad.

“The BluBlocker experience all starts when you first put on a pair. The world will change and you’ll never want to go back to ordinary sunglasses again.” –(


The Story Behind BluBlockers [ interview]:

Joe: What’s interesting about success–this might be an interesting insight–I have found that you can go along going in the direction you think you should be going and then all of a sudden something comes up and directs you 90 degrees in a different direction and that’s where you’re going to make your success. That’s the case with BluBlocker. We were selling electronics. I wasn’t selling sunglasses. I was selling all kinds of electronics, digital watches, whatsoever.

I just happened to be driving down the 405 in Los Angeles and I was with a friend of mine. We were driving to see a new product. He hands me a pair of sunglasses because he saw I was squinting. I put them on and I stopped squinting. It was really amazing. I said, “What’s the story with these?”

He says, “Don’t think you’re going to sell them because they’re made for astronauts and they’re like $300 a pair. They block all the blue light.” He gives me this whole pitch. I said, “This sounds terrific. This would make a great mail order item.” He says, “No, the company is going out of business.” I said, “Okay.”

We finished the meeting. I fly back to Chicago, my hometown. I’m preparing an eight-page catalogue for United Airlines, eight pages, one of the pages dropped out because the company went bankrupt. I had to fill that one page and I only had like a couple days to do it. So I called up my friend and I said, “Those astronaut sunglasses that you’ve got, please, could you send me a pair? I’ll get them made. I’ve got two months to get them made. But I’ve got to get an ad done in a couple days.”

He sends me the pair. I photograph it real quick, wrote a real quick ad, ran it in this insert. It was the bestselling product not only in the insert but that we’ve ever had. It was selling like crazy. So I saw that, and then I started running print ads. Just to give you an idea how much we sold, I sold about 100,000 pairs from the print ads we ran, which was like six months. . . . So we created this infomercial. Remember I said we sold 100,000 pair in six months.  Well, with this new infomercial, we were selling 300,000 pair in one month. . . . . 300,000 pair in one month, primarily from TV. So I went from selling electronics to all of a sudden my focus was totally not on BluBlocker sunglasses. I’ve built that up so we’ve sold 20 million pair.” 2


Apparently, he was a very colorful individual in the copywriting business and became one of the icons of the industry!

Joe offered readers $10 for every spelling error they found in his copy.  Interestingly, he included some on purpose and people spent hours going through his advertising looking for an error, even if not interested in the product.

Joe offered “loaner” watches to customers as part of a service guarantee.

Joe offered a $6 million home for sale in the airline magazines, accepting American Express, Visa, Master Card or any negotiable hard currency.

Joe sold a $240,000 airplane in a single mail-order ad — valued at $190,000.

He was the first one to develop and use the idea of toll-free telephone numbers for accepting credit card payments of=ver the phone,

The number one reason for his claim to fame may be the fact that he was the most prolific copywriter in the United States!  He produced his own JS&A catalog.1

“One of the revolutionary direct marketers and copywriters in the 1980s and 1990s was Joe Sugarman, who changed direct marketing by introducing the toll-free 800-number.

What’s more, Sugarman was the first to market a cordless telephone and a digital watch.

“The Irrepressible Joe Sugarman” — If you traveled back then, your in-flight magazine was certain to have one or more page ads for Sugarman’s goodies and high-tech gadgetry. They were immediately obvious with bold, catchy headlines and long copy that grabbed the reader by the throat and would not let go.” — targetmarketing


“How did Joe learn his trade? He claims he learned it from his failures and not from the mail order greats who preceded him.” 1

“My failures far outnumbered my successes.  In fact, I have yet to find anybody who has experienced the number of failures I experienced during the early stages of my career.  But it was through these failures that I received a very costly education that to this day has guided me through a successful career in advertising and direct marketing.” 1


Quotations Of Joe Sugarman:

Not many people are willing to give failure a second opportunity. They fail once and it is all over. The bitter pill of failure is often more than most people can handle. If you are willing to accept failure and learn from it, if you are willing to consider failure as a blessing in disguise and bounce back, you have got the essentials of harnessing one of the most powerful success forces.

Everybody saw my successful advertising and thought I was a big success. But, behind those successes were several failures that I had to learn from before I made it. I’ve always looked at failure as just another step you need to take to reach success.

View every problem as an opportunity.

What you focus on expands.

You have two choices in life:  you can dissolve into the mainstream, or you can be distinct.  To be distinct, you must be different.  To be different, you must strive to be what no one else but you can be.


Key Illustrative Thoughts:

• failure
• giving up
• two choices in life
• being  different
• being  distinct
• the sons of this age are wise than the sons of light
• focus
• problem and opportunity
• purposeful errors
• you will never want to go back to the ordinary [sunglasses]again

Other Information & Links:

* “Copywriter” is a term used to refer to those who engage in the profession of writing the script for various products being sold on TV, radio, magazines, billboards, and the like.

1. Book: “The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide To Writing Powerful Copy,” by Joe Sugarman



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