This month's piece misleads you off the top with a brief rant on frequency (a concept covered so well by Seth Godin a few weeks ago), but hits home and hits hard when Barry shifts gear into bemoaning the decline of Pow! in advertising creative. Says he:
"Try to find a print ad that provokes you to read it, with some headline like 'Lemon' or 'Attention Jews.'"
Students of the game know well that the former is from the legendary Volkswagen
ad (which, as a wild Andy Warhol screenprint, now hangs above my living room fireplace),
while the latter, Base explains, was "on a handbill on a post outside
the Brooklyn apartment of a friend and New York ad guy who used it ever after
as an example of a head masterfully crafted to grab the attention of its target
audience." (Read more on it here. And chill out. He's no Michael Richards.)
Great ad headlines epitomize Surprise. They're the ones that tear your attention away from the article on the other page, the ones that make you rub your eyelids in disbelief to make sure you're not hallucinating. They're the worm that gets you hooked and reeled into the sales message. The dearth of whup-ass headlines (Base uses the example of Jaguar's okay-what-the-hell-does-that-mean "Designed To Outperform...") make for boring ads and uninspired consumers. (I’ve always said that people don’t hate advertising, they hate BORING advertising.)
As poetic as the words may be spun, nobody remembers copy.
Even the boldest images fade.
But great headlines, like great Surprises, endure.