As a follow up to the Coca-Cola wannabes that produce ineffective “brand awareness” ads that feature the company name as the most prominent element, here is an ad that I’ve seen in the Boulder Daily Camera for many months now: a store that sells beads.
It’s a small and simple ad — nothing fancy, no striking illustrations, but it does a much better job because it tells you exactly what it offers right in the headline: beads!
The headline element is huge compared to the rest of the copy in the ad, and it is precisely what catches your eye. In a matter of seconds you decide whether the ad is for you or not. If you’re interested in beads, you’ll stop and read the rest of the copy. If you’re not, you’ll glaze right over it.
The beauty in this simplicity is that you don’t have to think too much. The ad isn’t asking you to figure out what some clever headline such as “Spring Break 1997 Double Dare?” means (an ad for a tattoo removal place). Their subhead “Regretting that tattoo you got?” would serve better as the headline.
Or a meaningless headline such as “Rule 1: Never give anything away. Rule 2: Never follow Rule 1.” means (an ad for the Advantage Bank). I still don’t know what they meant by it or what they were trying to promote. A more effective headline that appears in the same newspaper is in an Elevations Credit Union ad: “We have money to lend you!” It appeals to a reader’s self-interest and it’s timely.
Which brings us to the fact that the most important part of an advertisement is the headline. The success or failure of your advertisement campaign may depend entirely on the headlines used in individual advertisements because if the headline doesn’t grab the reader, she won’t read the rest of the copy. And the most effective headlines are the ones that appeal to the reader’s self-interest, but more on that in the next post. In the meantime, happy headline writing!