Another look at the headline of a print ad

A recent job we did for a client was a print ad. The brief included a suggested headline that stated how long the client was been in business. In fact, the number of years, was  pretty much the headline he wanted.My first suggested headline used “since 19xx”. Ok, I know this would require the reader to work out how long it is that the client has been in business. But, it also means that the ad could still be used the following year.Ok, it doesn’t have the impact, I agree.I came up with another one using the number of years, with a position statement. No. Just go back to the original brief.The customer is always right, so his headline stayed.The point I make here is that one, the client always gets his/her way. Fair enough. Who pays the piper calls the tune.However, I must reiterate what I mentioned in earlier posts that a headline and actually ad copy should consider what’s in it for the reader. After all, if there’s nothing for the reader, he/she will not read on from the headline. And, if the body copy doesn’t entice the reader to action, then the ad doesn’t do its job.After all, it has been said, promise is the heart of an advertisement. And, advertising’s best definition “salesmanship in print”. Print can be electronic or other media, including the net. But, the most important aspect is “salesmanship”.It’s easy to prepare a print ad for any client that he/she will like. Just place the logo (really big) and their tagline and maybe a nice photo or two and voila, you get a smile.Now, what’s in it for the reader, nothing.After all an ad has to have some kind of promise. If I can recall what the great man of letters, Samuel Johnson, once said when he selling his friend’s (Henry Thrale) brewery: “We are not here to sell a parcel of boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams of avarice.”Now that is a promise.Until my next post.

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