The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Headlines With Character …
April 23, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Over the years, long copy ads have given way to much shorter, straight-to-the-point, advertising.

The reasoning people like to claim for this change is that society doesn’t like to read long copy anymore, however the popularity of Harry Potter sort-of flies in the face of that view.

In my mind – and it’s something I’ve said many times – it’s not about the length and more about the quality … though maybe I’m confusing that with what I tell my wife.


But writing from ‘be interesting to the audience’ perspectives aside, one other element of copywriting that has, in my mind, sadly declined, is the quality of the headline.

These days it’s either a very bad pun … a blatant cry for attention or some utterly beige bollocks.

Maybe this is more a sign of my age, but I recently came across a headline [via someone’s instagram feed] that not only grabbed my attention, but charmed me enough into wanting to know more.

No, I’m not joking, I’m serious.

This was it …

Yes … yes … I know all you can see is the headline so you can’t tell what it’s referring to, but that’s not the fault of the castle but the person who took the photo of it, however given I have an inherent loathing of castle visiting thanks to countless days as a child being dragged to all manner of them by my parents, the fact I would actually consider seeing whatever rundown piece of history they’re talking about is utterly amazing.

What I love about that headline isn’t just that it’s the antithesis of the shouty, meaningless and soulless rubbish you see in all manner of ads, from cars to clothes … nor is it that it’s got charm and a genuine human-touch to it … no, what I love about it is more than that, it’s the fact it’s intriguing and interesting – not in a contrived kinda-way, but in a genuine relevance to the product/brand kinda-way – and in these days where advertising either seems to talk a lot but says very little or spouts off a stream of ‘rational benefits’ that no one other than the marketing team gives a fuck about, it’s refreshing to see and, I would imagine, effective to encounter.

28 Comments so far
Leave a comment

nice campbell, but which fucking castle is it?

slight flaw in your fucking fawning.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes, as usual.

Comment by Rob

for all you know its an ad for fucking tomb raider rather than some historical site. but its better than the headline for the fucking car ad in front of me. “free your soul.” what the fuck is that supposed to mean.

Comment by andy@cynic

Tomb Raider? On one hand I’m impressed at your gaming awareness on the other I’m impressed you still know Rob so well.

Comment by DH

well it wouldnt be anything fucking highbrow would it. he watches housewives of new fucking jersey for fucks sake.

Comment by andy@cynic

Funnily enough, I’ve just bought/played and finished the latest Tomb Raider game, and what a game it was. And no, I don’t feel in the slightest bit embarrassed saying that. Oh no. Ahem.

Comment by Rob


Comment by DH

well that explains clinton.

Comment by andy@cynic

Your poor mum and dad tried to inject some culture in your life and look how you turn out. Guessing their headline for you would be “when you have a son who likes queen and birkenstocks, you encourage him to move to china to save you from the pain and shame.”

Comment by DH

But it is better than most of the shit out there, I’ll give you that Rob. Not exactly difficult though is it. The alternative are some big talking, airy fairy rubbish that try to make you feel empowered but actually make you keep turning the pages and ignoring them.

Comment by DH

I’d go if it was a castle of a queen who was renowned for giving head but why would I want to go a guys pad who chops heads off? I’ve seen saw, that jigsaw character was a bastard.

Comment by Billy Whizz

It is Walmer Castle in Kent. An ad for English Heritage, copy by Sean Doyle, art direction by Dave Dye. G reat ad.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

see campbell. thats called “giving all the fucking facts”. try it in your next brief, it might make all the fucking difference next time.

Comment by andy@cynic

And it rather backs up Rob’s point that you don’t see many like this these days – because it was written in 1995.

Comment by John

To be fair, that’s more modern than Rob’s dress sense.

Comment by DH

Thank you Ciaran … I was desperate to find out. I should have known it was a ‘classic’, but I’m going to blame it on 1995 being the year I left the UK. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

800 words, set in hot metal to give it a period feel. You all remember hot metal don’t you?

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

campbell will be getting hard at your comment ciaran thinking youre talking about twisted bastard sister. apologies for giving you that ugly as fuck image there. stupid mistake. im going out to wash my brain with johnnie w black.

Comment by andy@cynic

The craft of copywriting has been replaced by the skill of 3rd rate self help inspiration quotes.

This is also due to many products not having a single aspect of uniqueness about them. In fact, they are designed that way because their biggest fear is alienating any potential customers by offering features that sets them apart. Unless you’re Samsung, where their goal is to add whatever they can to their products so they can show how innovative they are. Even if you’ll never use it or want it.

Great ad Rob. It’s not an age thing, it’s a quality and purpose thing.

Comment by Pete

Something annoying you today Pete? This is the equivalent of Dr Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk.

Comment by Rob

What a headline. A truly classic and English ad.

By the way Pete, the final sentence of your comment is very good. The rest is rather aggressive by your standards, but that sums up my sentiment entirely.

Comment by Lee Hill

As it happens, that headline echoes my relationship with a certain Media Arts director but that’s another story

Comment by northern

When will you throw caution to the wind and let it all out.

It’s like you’re a guy who is desperate to get the girl – you both flirt madly with each other – but never have the courage to make the first move. I know that’s the worst analogy ever, but hopefully you know what I mean.

Comment by Rob

Keep your eyes open, like a great Media Arts strategy, it could pop in the most unexpected places.
You’ll just know.

Comment by northern

I can’t wait for Korea.

Comment by Rob

Synchronicity that the same ad should also be critiqued in the latest ‘Creative Review’…

Comment by Tom Callaghan

That’s excellent. A true example of how headline writing should be carried out. It’s also a great example of how having an understanding the right tone of voice makes such a huge difference.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Leave a Reply