“Copy catting” is a perfectly legal, time-honored, and very effective technique in copywriting.
It means you find an existing ad that is making money, and “borrow” the main money-making idea for your own ad.
Unfortunately, unskilled marketers usually bungle this: they rip off the words or style of the ad they are copy catting, while totally missing the key selling idea.
For instance, one of my favorite ads is a tiny display ad selling a course on making money with mail order ads.
The classic headline: “Do You Read Small Ads Like This One?”
A local media company that sells space on park benches, bus stops, and other public areas where signage can be placed tried to copy cat this approach.
Their headline: “You’ve Just Proven That Signs Work!”
Do you see why “Do You Read Small Ads Like This One?” works but “You’ve Just Proven That Signs Work!” is a poor imitation that doesn’t work at all?
First correct answer gets a free copy of my e-book Scientific Advertising Illustrated and Annotated.