100 Greatest Headlines Ever Written
By Jay Abraham
1. THE SECRET OF MAKING PEOPLE LIKE YOU
$500,000 was spent profitably to run keyed ads displaying
this headline. It drew many hundreds of thousands of readers
into the body matter of a "people-mover" advertisement
--- one which, by itself, built a big business. Pretty
irresistible, isn't it?
A LITTLE MISTAKE THAT COST A FARMER $3,000 A YEAR
sizable appropriation was spent successfully in farm magazines
on this ad. Sometimes the negative idea of offsetting,
reducing, or eliminating the "risk of loss"
is even more attractive to the reader than the "prospect
the great business executive Chauncey Depew once said,
"I would not stay up all of one night to make $100;
but I would stay up all of seven nights to keep from losing
it." As Walter Norvath says in Six Successful Selling
Techniques, "People will fight much harder to avoid
losing something they already own than to gain something
of greater value that they do not own." It is also
true that they have the feeling that losses and waste
can often be more easily retrieved than new profits can
farmer could pass up reading the copy under such a headline
--- to find out: "What was the mistake? Why was it
'little'? Am I making it? If it cost a farmer a loss of
$3,000 a year, maybe it's costing me a lot more? Perhaps
the copy will also tell me about other mistakes I might
ADVICE TO WIVES WHOSE HUSBANDS DON'T SAVE MONEY --- BY
headline strength of the word "advice" has often
been proven. Most people want it, regardless of whether
or not they follow it. And the particular "ailment"
referred to is common enough to interest a lot of readers.
The "it happened to me" tag line, "by a
wife," increases the desire to read the copy. (This
ad far outpulled the advertiser's previous best ad, Get
Rid of Money Worries.)
THE CHILD WHO WON THE HEARTS OF ALL
This was a key-result ad which proved spectacularly profitable.
It appeared in women's magazines. The emotional-type copy
described (and the photograph portrayed) the kind of little
girl any parent would want their daughter to be. Laughing,
rollicking, running forward with arms outstretched, right
out of the ad and into the arms and heart of the reader.
ARE YOU EVER TONGUE-TIED AT A PARTY?
the myriads of self-conscious, inferiority-complexed wallflowers.
"That's me! I want to read this ad; maybe it tells
me exactly what to do about it."
you go along, you will notice how many of these headlines
are interrogative ones. They ask a question to which people
want to read the answer. They excite curiosity and interest
in the body matter which follows. They hit home --- cut
through verbose indirectness. The best ones are challenges,
which are difficult to ignore, cannot be dismissed with
a quick no or yes and without further reading, are pertinent
and relevant to the reader. Note how many of the ones
included here measure up to these specifications.
HOW A NEW DISCOVERY MADE A PLAIN GIRL BEAUTIFUL
appeal; there are more plain girls than beautiful ones
--- and just about all of them want to be better looking.
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE
helped to sell millions of copies of the book of the same
title. Strong basic appeal; we will all want to do it.
But without the words "how to" the headline
would become simply a trite wall motto.
THE LAST 2 HOURS ARE THE LONGEST --- AND THOSE ARE THE
2 HOURS YOU SAVE
airline ad featured a faster jet-powered flight. Headline
is a bull's-eye for air-experienced travelers who know
what those last two interminable hours can do to their
nerves and patience. Like many fine headlines, it doubtless
came right out of the personal experience of its writer.
This headline (and all the others discussed here) would
have been good even if it had not been supported by any
picture at all. But its effect was heightened by a photo
of a wristwatch with the hour marks indicating 1 to 10
bunched together --- and 10, 11, and 12 stretched wide
WHO ELSE WANTS A SCREEN STAR FIGURE?
doesn't? Except men --- and this successful and much-fun
ad is not addressed to them. "Who else" also
has a "get on the bandwagon" connotation: not
"Can it be done?" but "Who else wants to
DO YOU MAKE THESE MISTAKES IN ENGLISH?
direct challenge. Now read the headline back, eliminating
the vital word "these." This word is the "hook"
that almost forces you into the copy. "What are these
particular mistakes? Do I make them?" Also notice
(as with many of the other headline reviewed) that this
one promised to provide helpful personal information in
its own context, not merely "advertising talk."
The attraction of the Specific: In this first breather
let us stop to impress upon your mind how significant
a part the "specific" plays in so many good
headlines. It appears in many of our first ten. And it
will appear in a surprising number of the next ninety.
You will see how magnetically it helps to draw the reader
into the body matter of an advertisement. So notice, as
you continue reading, how many of these headlines contain
specific words or phrases that make the ad promise to
tell you: How, Here's, These, Which of these, Who Else,
Where, When, What, Why. Also, note frequently exact amounts
are used: number of days, evenings, hours, minutes, dollars,
ways, types of. This "attraction of the specific"
is worth your special attention --- not only as relating
to words and phrases, but also concerning headline ideas
themselves. For example, compare the appeal of "We'll
Help You Make More Money" with "We'll Help You
Pay the Rent."
WHY SOME FOODS "EXPLODE" IN YOUR STOMACH
provocative "why" headline. Based upon the completely
understandable fact that some food combinations virtually
"explode" in the stomach. Broad appeal. (Relevant
picture of chemical retort shaped like a stomach, starting
HANDS THAT LOOK LOVELIER IN 24 HOURS --- OR YOUR MONEY
appeal to women. Result guaranteed: "Or Your Money
YOU CAN LAUGH AT MONEY WORRIES --- IF YOU FOLLOW THIS
everybody wants to be able to do. A successful keyed ad
upon which many thousands have been spent.
WHY SOME PEOPLE ALMOST ALWAYS MAKE MONEY IN THE STOCK
profitable check-results ad selling a book written by
a partner in a well-known and highly regarded brokerage
house. Important key words: "some" and "almost"
--- which make the headline credible.
WHEN DOCTORS "FEEL ROTTEN" THIS IS WHAT THEY
the secret of the success of this well-known ad? First:
the suggestion of a paradox. We seldom think of doctors
as being in poor health themselves. And when they are,
what they do about it is information "right from
the horse's mouth"; carries a note of authority and
greater assurance of "reward for reading the ad."
Note the positive promise of reward in "This Is What
the use of the unabashed colloquialism "feel rotten"
gets attention, sounds human, natural. Besides, it has
surprise value --- since the vocabulary of the advertising
pages has a certain sameness and stilted quality. Many
a headline fails to stop readers because its vocabulary
is so hackneyed. No word or phrase in it has any attention-arresting
element of surprise, no words, expressions, or ideas not
commonly used or expected in the headline of an advertisement.
This ad pulled only half the number of responses when
a test was made changing "When Doctors Feel Rotten"
to "When Doctors Don't Feel Up To Par." (Other
examples of the use of common colloquialisms and words
are given, and commented upon, in many of these good headlines.)
the idea of using headline words not commonly utilized
in the lexicon of advertising is worth such serious consideration,
let us cite a few more examples. For a book on scientific
weight control: the one word "Pot-Belly"! (Not
very elegant, but it proved an effective stopper.) For
a dictionary: a single word (onion, hog, shad, pelican,
skunk, kangaroo, etc.) as the boldface headline of each
in a series of small-space advertisements. You couldn't
miss it on the page and you wanted to know what it was
all about. The copy followed through by illustrating how
simple and clear the definitions were in that particular
dictionary. For a book of golf instruction: "Don't
Belly-Ache About Your Golf This Year!"
IT SEEMS INCREDIBLE THAT YOU CAN OFFER THESE SIGNED ORIGINAL
ETCHINGS --- FOR ONLY $5 EACH
the reader's natural incredulity concerning such an exceptional
bargain. Thus helping to overcome his doubt in advance,
by acknowledging the likelihood of it.
FIVE FAMILIAR SKIN TROUBLES --- WHICH DO YOU WANT TO OVERCOME?
me keep reading --- to see if I have one of the five."
The old "which of these" selling technique;
not "do you want?" but "which do you want?"
(Interrogative headline helps entice readers into the
copy. Note how many of these hundred are interrogative
WHICH OF THESE $2.50 TO $5 BEST SELLERS DO YOU WANT ---
FOR ONLY $1 EACH?
keyed ad sold hundreds of thousands of books. Strong comparative-price
WHO EVER HEARD OF A WOMAN LOSING WEIGHT --- AND ENJOYING
3 DELICIOUS MEALS AT THE SAME TIME?
example of a headline which anticipates incredulity in
order to help overcome it.
HOW I IMPROVED MY MEMORY IN ONE EVENING
is the famous "Addsion Sims of Seattle" ad which
coined that household phrase. Could you escape wanting
to read it?
DISCOVER THE FORTUNE THAT LIES HIDDEN IN YOUR SALARY
of those good "discover what lies hidden" headlines.
(Note others here.) A proven puller for an advertiser
offering sound securities on a "pay out of income"
DOCTORS PROVE 2 OUT OF 3 WOMEN CAN HAVE MORE BEAUTIFUL
SKIN IN 14 DAYS
want it. "Why two out of three? Am I one of the two?
How have doctors proven it? Quick results are what I want....Only
Many Words Should a Headline Contain? ...You have probably
often read about the desirability of having no more than
a certain number of words in your headline. Yet, in this
second breather, we want to point out that many of the
headlines already quoted (and others to follow) are, by
ordinary standards, quite long. Yet, despite their length,
they were successful. Obviously, it is not wise to make
a headline any lengthier than its primary function actually
requires. However, greater-than-usual length need not
worry you...provided the headline's high spots of interest
are physically well broken up and clearly displayed ---
and provided the personal advantages promised to the reader
are presented so oppositely that it is almost as though
his own name appeared in the headline. Worth recounting
is the story of Max Hart (of Hart, Schaffner and Marx)
and his advertising manager, the late and great George
L. Dyer. They were arguing about long copy. To clinch
the argument Mr. Dyer said, "I'll bet you $10 I can
write a newspaper page of solid types and you'd read every
word of it." Mr. Hart scoffed at the idea. "I
don't have to write a line of it to prove my point,"
Mr. Dyer responded. "I'll only tell you the headline:
"This page is all about Max Hart!"
HOW I MADE A FORTUNE WITH A "FOOL IDEA"
excite interest. Broad appeal: almost everyone has once
had a pet moneymaking idea that others have thought foolish
and impractical. Sympathy for the underdog: "What's
the story of this man who 'turned the tables' on the people
who ridiculed him?"
HOW OFTEN DO YOU HEAR YOURSELF SAYING: "NO, I HAVEN'T
READ IT: I'VE BEEN MEANING TO!"
well-known book club has spent a great deal of money on
this ad. Headline aimed accurately at large market ---
people who "mean to" keep up with the new books
but somehow "never get around to it."
THOUSANDS HAVE THIS PRICELESS GIFT --- BUT NEVER DISCOVER
'priceless gift'? Why is it 'priceless'? If 'thousands'
have it, perhaps I should have it too." The "undiscovered"
angle has great attraction. Legions of people are convinced
that they possess talents and abilities which others have
never discovered. Consequently, their world is unfortunately
inclined to underrate or misjudge them.
WHOSE FAULT WHEN CHILDREN DISOBEY?
parent wouldn't be stopped cold by this headline? "I'm
the one who's probably to blame. It's a distressing condition
--- and, most important, a reflection upon me. Maybe this
ad tells me what to do about it."
HOW A "FOOL STUNT" MADE ME A STAR SALESMAN
is the 'fool stunt'? Why did people call it that? How
did it transform this fellow? I'd like to be able to 'sell'
myself and my ideas --- even though selling may not be
my vocation.") A large expenditure was made profitably
on this ad after its resentfulness had been proven.)
HAVE YOU THESE SYMPTOMS OF NERVE EXHAUSTION?
likes to read about his "symptoms." The appeal
is broad; the condition of "nerve exhaustion"
GUARANTEED TO GO THROUGH ICE, MUD OR SNOW --- OR WE PAY
you offer a powerful guarantee with your product, play
it up strongly and quickly in the headline. Don't relegate
it to minor display. Many products are actually backed
up by dramatic guarantees - but their advertising does
not make the most of them.
HAVE YOU A "WORRY" STOCK?
this ad will tell me why I need not lose any sleep over
it --- or how I can replace it with one that will zoom."
HOW A NEW KIND OF CLAY IMPROVED MY COMPLEXION IN 30 MINUTES
a desirable reward for reading. And the true experience
of another person (with something relevant to our own
desires) is always interesting.
161 NEW WAYS TO A MAN'S HEART --- IN THIS FASCINATING
BOOK FOR COOKS
the attraction of the specific --- tied up with a strong
PROFITS THAT LIE HIDDEN IN YOUR FARM
run in farm papers, with exceptional results. The hidden-profit
ideas and the suggestion of retrieving a loss.
IS THE LIFE OF A CHILD WORTH $1 TO YOU?
headline for a brake-relining service. Strong emotional
appeal: how the life of a little child may be snuffed
out by an accident due to your ineffective brakes.
EVERYWHERE WOMEN ARE RAVING ABOUT THIS AMAZING NEW SHAMPOO!
colloquial: "raving about." The "success"
word: "everywhere." (The increasing popularity
and sale of a product are adduced as evidence of its merit.
"Nothing succeeds like success"; and people
love to climb on a bandwagon.) And the overworked "amazing"
still seems to have some power left.
DO YOU DO ANY OF THESE TEN EMBARRASSING THINGS?
question. All of us are afraid of embarrassing ourselves
before others: being criticized, looked down upon, talked
about. "Which 'ten' are they? Do I do any of them?"
SIX TYPES OF INVESTOR --- WHICH GROUP ARE YOU IN?
ad produced inquiries in large quantities. Investors reviewed
the characteristics of each of the six groups, as described
in the ad, then inquired about a program designed to meet
the investment purposes of their particular group.
Primary Viewpoint --- The "Point of You" ...
Breather No. 3 is a short one because you already know
the "lesson" very well. But to stress its importance,
let us point this out to you: 43 of these 100 headlines
contain one of these actual words --- "you",
"your", or "yourself." Even when the
pronoun is first person singular (for example, "How
I Improved My Memory in One Evening"), the reward
promised is so universally desired that it is, in effect,
really saying, "You can do it, too!" Thousands
of words have already been written about the "point
of you" --- but let me remind you that, given a fountain
pen, 96 percent of 500 college women wrote their own names;
shown a map of the USA, 447 men out of 500 looked first
for the location of their home towns! Howard Barnes, of
the American Newspaper Publishers' Association, really
was on target when he said: "To call up an image
of the reader, all you need to do is pin up a target.
Then, starting at the outside, you can label his interests
in this order: the world, the United States, his home
state, his home town, and we'll lump together in the black
center his family and himself....me. Myself. I come first.
I am the bull's-eye.
HOW TO TAKE OUT STAINS...USE (PRODUCT NAME) AND FOLLOW
THESE EASY DIRECTIONS
example of a good "service" ad --- one which,
besides being relevantly tied up with the product, also
contains helpful information usable in itself. (Such ads
often have considerable longevity because they are cut
out and used for future reference.)
TODAY...ADD $10,000 TO YOUR ESTATE --- FOR THE PRICE OF
A NEW HAT
wouldn't want to do that? Doubt as to the promise if offset
by the fact that the advertiser is a large and reputable
DOES YOUR CHILD EVER EMBARRASS YOU?
challenging, a common circumstance. Brings up a flood
or recollections. How can such unpleasant experiences
be avoided in the future? Based upon a strong selfish
appeal. Parents, are first, individuals; second, parents.
The kind of reflection that children cast upon the prestige
and self-esteem of their parents is a useful copy angle
to remember. (This headline is the negative opposite of
No. 4, The Child Who Won the Hearts of All.)
IS YOUR HOME PICTURE-POOR?
rifle-shot question hitting thousands of readers. Illustrated
by a photo of an otherwise attractive living room with
blank areas on its walls; with X's indicating where pictures
would improve the room's appearance.
HOW TO GIVE YOUR CHILDREN EXTRA IRON --- THESE 3 DELICIOUS
obeys the wise maxim of newspaper reporters: "Start
where the reader is." In other words, the public
already accepts the fact that children's blood should
contain plenty of iron. So the headline goes on from there
--- promising "extra" iron and "3 delicious
ways" to get it ("delicious" ways; so not
the common parent vs. child battle).
TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO WRITE --- BUT CAN'T GET STARTED
selects its audience, which is large --- and stymied.
THIS ALMOST-MAGICAL LAMP LIGHTS HIGHWAY TURNS BEFORE YOU
word "almost" lends believability. Headline
promises an automatic no-effort method of relieving an
annoying condition or avoiding a dangerous emergency.
THE CRIMES WE COMMIT AGAINST OUR STOMACHS
"start where the reader is" headline --- because
most people already believe they often give their digestive
process some pretty rough treatment. This rapport, between
the theme of the ad and the common belief of its readers,
makes the "we" and "our" practically
equal in effectiveness to "you" and "your."
THE MAN WITH THE "GRASSHOPPER MIND"
immediate association with himself leaps to the mind of
the reader. He wants to check at once on the personal
parallel. What are the symptoms? Starting things one never
finishes? Jumping from one thing to another.
much am I like him? It's not a good trait. What did he
do about it?" This is an example of a negative headline
that strikes home more accurately and dramatically than
would a positive one.
THEY LAUGHED WHEN I SAT DOWN AT THE PIANO --- BUT WHEN
I STARTED TO PLAY!
one that has entered our language. Sympathy with the underdog.
Particularly interesting, structurally, as an example
of a headline which "turns the corner" by using
a final tag line to make itself positive instead of negative.
worth remembering: the before-and-after angle can be effective
in many headlines.
THROW AWAY YOUR OARS!
and positive commands often make good stopper headlines.
When Ole Evinrude, the outboard-motor king, ran a small
ad with this headline, he took the first step toward building
his one-room machine ship into a big business. (A similar
headline, Throw Away Your Aerial! was also once responsible
for building a business in the radio field.) This type
of headline is worth thinking about when the product you
are advertising eliminates the need for some, heretofore,
necessary piece of equipment, some onerous job, or some
sizable item of expense.
HOW TO DO WONDERS WITH A LITTLE LAND!
successful headline which pulled 75 percent better than
"Two Acres and Security" and 40 percent better
than A Little Land --- a Lot of Living. The reason: "how
to" and "do wonders with."
WHO ELSE WANTS LIGHTER CAKE --- IN HALF THE MIXING TIME?
appeal. Another good "who else" headline. (No
9, Who Else Wants A Screen Star Figure?)
LITTLE LEAKS THAT KEEP MEN POOR
keyed "retrieving a loss" ad whose checked resultfulness
justified frequent repetition.
PIERCED BY 301 NAILS....RETAINS FULL AIR PRESSURE
wouldn't be interested in reading more about a tire like
NO MORE BACKBREAKING GARDEN CHORES FOR ME --- YET OURS
IS NOW THE SHOW-PLACE OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD!
good example of a before-and-after headline which makes
the turn from negative to positive. Also worth noting:
it has an effective element of excitement in it --- a
feature of many good headlines, communicating the copywriter's
enthusiasm to the printed page.
Worry about a "Negative" Approach...This breather
No. 4 is about negative headlines. "Accentuate the
positive; eliminate the negative," said a song of
some years ago. For years that has also been the popular
refrain on the advice often given to copywriters. Discussion
about negative headlines has sometimes sparked more fire
than enlightenment. Yet our 100 headlines then become
positive. So the negative approach must have some good
reason for existence. It has. What is it? One of the principal
objectives of a headline is to strike as directly as possible
right at a situation confronting the reader. Sometimes
you can do this with greater accuracy if you use a negative
headline which pinpoints the ailment rather than the alleviation
of it. (For example, Is YOUR Home Picture-Poor? Have YOU
a "Worry Stock" --- Little Leaks That Keep Men
Poor.) So when you face that kind of situation don't be
afraid to "accentuate the negative." Let's proceed
to another great headline which captured a place in our
OFTEN A BRIDESMAID, NEVER A BRIDE
poignantly true, so pointed --- and so common.
HOW MUCH IS "WORKER TENSION" COSTING YOUR COMPANY?
ad which was successful in business magazines reaching
executives. "I want to know which are the kinds of
'worker tension' specifically. What is 'worker tension'
costing other companies in net profits? How much is it
costing us? If it is, what can we do about it?"
TO MEN WHO WANT TO QUIT WORK SOMEDAY
its readers without wasting a word. (And who can say that
the Audience isn't kind of large?)
HOW TO PLAN YOUR HOUSE TO SUIT YOURSELF
pulled almost 20% better than How to Avoid These Mistakes
in Planning Your Home. Apparently, people expect the architect
to avoid the mistakes --- but feel that they themselves
know better than anyone else what will best suit their
particular needs and preferences.
BUY NO DESK --- UNTIL YOU'VE SEEN THIS SENSATION OF THE
"stopper" type of "command" headline,
adaptable for many uses. Copy quickly follows with "until
you have checked as to whether it has this feature, and
this one, and this..."
CALL BACK THESE GREAT MOMENTS AT THE OPERA
it's a good idea to "start where the reader was."
This nostalgic headline was used to sell phonograph records
of great operas. The ideas can be used in a positive way:
typing up with a desirable remembrance. Or it can be used
negatively: contrasting a certain new product advantage
with an undesirable remembrance.
"I LOST MY BULGES...AND SAVED MONEY, TOO"
"bulges" is a stopper, not commonly used in
advertising lexicon. Double-edged appeal: the promise
to end an unwanted condition and to save you money, also.
WHY (BRAND NAME) BULBS GIVE MORE LIGHT THIS YEAR
one illustrates an important point, one which many advertisers
hate to swallow. It is usually not a good idea to tell
the name of the company (or the brand name) in the headline
--- or to make it tell too much of the story. When this
is done right in the headline itself, it often gives the
whole thing away and does not tempt the reader into the
copy. However, as is this case, when the advertiser is
a nationally famous company (particularly when it is noted
for its enterprise, innovations, improvements, and research),
the use of the company, brand name can add news value
to the headline --- and help to substantiate the truth
of the claim made in it.
RIGHT AND WRONG FARMING METHODS --- AND LITTLE POINTERS
THAT WILL INCREASE YOUR PROFITS
Exceedingly profitable in farm papers. A combination of
negative and positive appeals, worth a lot of "come
hither" for farmers.
NEW CAKE-IMPROVER GETS YOU COMPLIMENTS GALORE!
are three things which advertising can tell its readers:
(1) what the product is; (2) what it does; and...this
headline utilizes the third (and often overlooked) one:
(3) In terms of the advertisers, it is this: What other
people will say of you, think of you, do for you --- how
they will admire you, envy you, imitate you --- because
of what my product can accomplish for you. In terms of
the prospective customer it is this: Because of what your
product can do for me, people may think more of me! This
third factor (which is an extension of the No. 2 factor
mentioned above) can be made so effective, and is so often
neglected that it rates special attention here as Breather
No. 5. The proper use of it can make advertising copy
make more sales.
it is worth a prominent niche in your memory. To keep
it there, visualize a somewhat ridiculous picture. (Tying
up an absurd pictorial association with a concept you
want to remember is, of course, a well-known aid to memory.)
The sketch is of a boy sitting on the prow of a PT boat.
His mother is sitting in the stern. Between the two the
initials "PT" are printed in big letters on
the side of this type of small, but very fast, patrol
boat used so extensively in World War II in the South
Pacific. This mental picture will help you remember the
initials "BOY PT MOM." And these are the initials
of the phrase, "Because Of You, People Think More
Of Me." Headline No. 63 utilizes that factor. It
promises the reader that this new cake improver will win
her compliments from others; that because of you (the
advertiser) other people will think more of her (the reader).
You are offering to show her how to make what she might
later call her "reputation cake." Sometimes
this element in copy is called the "prestige factor,"
and is considered only as an extension of the "what
the product does" type of copy. (In discussing the
advertising of ladies' perfumes Hal Stebbins calls it
persuasive, so compelling, that it rates at least a subcategory
of its own.
IMAGINE ME...HOLDING AN AUDIENCE SPELLBOUND FOR 30 MINUTES
profitable narrative-ad headline. Broad interest in this
kind of ability. Narrator's surprise and apparent humility
lend credence and humanness to the statement.
THIS IS MARIE ANTOINETTE --- RIDING TO HER DEATH
often-repeated ad for a set of books. It pulled eight
times as many responses in 1/4-page size as were ever
received from a double-spread. This is the only straight
"curiosity" headline included here. Its headline
was relevant --- not, as so commonly used, one of those
trick devices to force attention when advertising a product
not closely related to the headline.
DID YOU EVER SEE A "TELEGRAM" FROM YOUR HEART?
real stopper of a headline, with a great deal of lure
in the copy. Top picture shows a cardiogram report printed
upon a Western Union telegram form.
NOW ANY AUTO REPAIR JOB CAN BE "DUCK SOUP" FOR
do you know --- the words "duck soup" in an
ad? But doesn't it tell the story in a more unusual way
than would "easy," "simple," or some
such word --- particularly to the type of market to which
this ad is aimed?
NEW SHAMPOO LEAVES YOUR HAIR SMOOTHER --- EASIER TO MANAGE
result that all women want is clearly and persuasively
stated. Word "leaves" makes it sound effortless.
IT'S A SHAME FOR YOU NOT TO MAKE GOOD MONEY --- WHEN THESE
MEN DO IT SO EASILY
colloquial "it's a shame." Sympathetic understanding
of the reader: "You are as capable as these other
men." (Headline, of course, is supported by photos
and good testimonials.)
YOU NEVER SAW SUCH LETTERS AS HARRY AND I GOT ABOUT OUR
human, disarmingly ingenuous, refreshingly non-"advertisy"
in language. And, of course, the reference to "such
THOUSANDS NOW PLAY WHO NEVER THOUGHT THEY COULD
headline perennially profitable for a large music school.
Again, the copy is crammed with testimonials and references
substantiating the claim.
GREAT NEW DISCOVERY KILLS KITCHEN ODORS QUICK! --- MAKES
INDOOR AIR "COUNTRY-FRESH"
headline of an ad that launched a big business. Faces
a common problem head-on; offers and easy and pleasant
MAKE THIS 1-MINUTE TEST --- OF AN AMAZING NEW KIND OF
"make this test" angle has been used in many
good headlines. It is widely usable for others. Its purpose
is to induce the reader to participate in a demonstration
of the product's merits. However, if credible and dramatic,
the test can represent a persuasive demonstration whether
or not the reader ever actually makes it.
ANNOUNCING...THE NEW EDITION OF THE ENCYCLOPEDIA THAT
MAKES IT FUN TO LEARN THINGS
"announcement" type of headline (when bring
out a new product) wins attention because people are interested
in new things.
--- Americans Don't Suffer From This Ailment! ...Breather
No. 6 is here to remind you that in a great many of these
headlines you find the word new --- or connotation of
it, such as "new kind of," "new discover,"
"new way to," etc. Americans are partial to
the new or novel; they do not suffer from neophobia. To
them the mere factor of newness seems to be prima facie
evidence of "betterness."
affection for the old and tried may be strong in other
countries; in ours the desire to try the new is stronger.
The great achievements of our inventors and enterprising
manufacturers have trained us to believe that if it's
new, it's likely to be better. However, the word "new"
in a headline should be backed up by copy pointing out
the merits of something really new and advantageous, not
some transparently trivial difference. And now we come
to another familiar headline...
AGAIN SHE ORDERS... "A CHICKEN SALAD, PLEASE"
still hear it quoted. It sold hundreds of thousands of
copies of an etiquette book because it capsulated a common
and embarrassing situation.
FOR THE WOMAN WHO IS OLDER THAN SHE LOOKS
headline was a stopper to thousands...and more successful
than the subtly different "For the Woman Who Looks
Younger Than She Is."
WHERE YOU CAN GO IN A GOOD USED CAR
headline of an excellent advertisement which featured
what the product does --- rather than what it is. It appeared
years ago, before practically everyone owned an automobile.
Underneath the headline was a picture of the Indiana Sand
Dunes, followed by good copy about the dunes and pointing
out that "A good used car brings the whole country
to you and yours. Why not buy one? You don't need a lot
of money." Finally, after selling the idea, the copy
gave some specific details about the cars which were for
CHECK THE KIND OF BODY YOU WANT
list displayed at top immediately invites reader's participation
in specifying "which of these" improvements
he would like to make in his physique. Keyed ad repeated
frequently by well-known physical culturist.
"YOU KILL THAT STORY --- OR I'LL RUN YOU OUT OF THE
true narrative ad run by a nationwide chain of newspapers.
Could you flip over the page without wanting to know what
HERE'S A QUICK WAY TO BREAK UP A COLD
simple everyday words, a direct promise to end an undesirable
condition --- quickly.
THERE'S ANOTHER WOMAN WAITING FOR EVERY MAN --- AND SHE'S
TOO SMART TO HAVE "MORNING MOUTH"
quite an impact on women readers, this toothpaste ad.
Obviously, for there surely is a lot of motivation in
its theme: "No woman wants her husband to carry the
memory of her morning breath to work with him. The attractive
women he meets during the day don't have it."
News to the Advertiser May Be Fresh News to the Reader...And
now we come to Breather No. 7. Don't think that because
it is our last one it is of least importance. In fact,
its value becomes apparent when you realize how many of
these headlines employ it. "Get news (or new value)
into your headline" is probably the best way to define
it. Since you can't pack everything into a headline, stick
to your principal appeal --- but give it news value if
you can. And remember that what may be stale news to the
advertiser may be fresh news to the reader. The advertiser
is, of course, thoroughly familiar with his manufacturing
methods, the ingredients he uses, the function of his
product. They may have no news value for him. They may
even be similar to those of his competitors. But that
is not true of the readers of his advertisements. Something
about the product or the service it renders may be entirely
new and sensationally persuasive to the public. And the
advertiser who features it first captures its appeal for
himself, regardless of the "me too" efforts
of competitors who may have, heretofore, failed to capitalize
THIS PEN "BURPS" BEFORE IT DRINKS --- BUT NEVER
expressed in a few words a copy theme credited with pushing
one brand of fountain pen up to a leading position.
IF YOU WERE GIVEN $200,000 TO SPEND --- ISN'T THIS THE
KIND OF (TYPE OF PRODUCT, BUT NOT BRAND NAME) YOU WOULD
"self-incriminating" (and widely applicable)
way to have the reader help to specify what he himself
would value most in such a product. The copy follows through
along these lines: Surely you would put this feature into
it. You would be sure that it brought you this advantage,
and this, and this...Well, we've done it all for you.
As you can see, this product was really created for you!
"LAST FRIDAY...WAS I SCARED!---MY BOSS ALMOST FIRED
human narrative people wanted to read because it did ---
or could --- "happen to me."
76 REASONS WHY IT WOULD HAVE PAID YOU TO ANSWER OUR AD
A FEW MONTHS AGO
interesting example of an ad that backtracks --- pointing
out in detail what the reader missed by not buying the
product before. A frequently repeated ad used by a well-known
news magazine to pull for subscriptions.
SUPPOSE THIS HAPPENED ON YOUR WEDDING DAY!
profitable narrative-ad headline which makes it pretty
hard to flip the page. "What was this tragic happening?
Could it --- or did it --- happen to me?"
DON'T LET ATHLETE'S FOOT "LAY YOU UP"
pulled three times better than Relieve Foot Itch. It gives
the disease a relevant name, points out unwanted effects.
ARE THEY BEING PROMOTED RIGHT OVER YOUR HEAD?
question aimed at a big target: the legion of frustrated,
discouraged people who feel that their ability and conscientiousness
are not being amply rewarded by recognition and advancement.
(Frequently run by an educational institution which checks
the resultfulness of its advertisements.)
ARE WE A NATION OF LOWBROWS?
headline helped to sell inexpensive editions of the classics,
by the hundreds of thousands. It starts where the reader
is --- because we, as a nation, are not reputed to be
greatly addicted to the highbrow type of literature.
this successful campaign showed that Americans know very
well the difference between the meritorious and meretricious
--- and, if challenged, can prove it with orders. The
"we" angle avoids the accusatory "you."
A WONDERFUL TWO YEARS' TRIP AT FULL PAY --- BUT ONLY MEN
WITH IMAGINATION CAN TAKE IT
ad about a course for businessmen was repeated again and
again, for a period of seven years, in a long list of
magazines. It offers a worthwhile reward for reading ---
with an intriguing challenge in its second line.
WHAT EVERYBODY OUGHT TO KNOW...ABOUT THIS STOCK AND BOND
headline of a full-page newspaper ad crammed solid with
small-size type --- and nary a single picture! It drew
5,000 replies when first published, has since appeared
in more than 150 newspapers. Promised helpful information
of interest to a large audience. A big investment house
ran the ad.
MONEY-SAVING BARGAINS FROM AMERICA'S DIAMOND DISCOUNT
course the "bargain appeal" is a sure-fire ---
and this is a good example of straightforward presentation.
FORMER BARBER EARNS $8,000 IN 4 MONTHS AS A REAL ESTATE
Featuring an actual testimonial can make a good headline.
In this case, the reader's first reaction is "if
a barber can do it maybe I can, too!"
FREE BOOK --- TELLS YOU 12 SECRETS OF BETTER LAWN CARE
you are offering something entirely free (such as a booklet
or sample) --- and want requests for it in quantity ---
feature it right in your headline.
GREATEST GOLD-MINE OF EASY "THINGS-TO-MAKE"
EVER CRAMMED INTO ONE BIG BOOK
you have a new product (or even an old one) and still
lack sufficient accurate data as to which, specifically,
are the strongest selling appeals to feature in your advertising.
In that case, it is often good strategy to "merchandise"
the multi-purpose "coverage" of your product
as thoroughly as you can. By doing so, you avoid the risk
of laying too much stress upon any specific appeal which
may prove weak or ineffectual. And, by exposing many of
your product's uses and advantages you, at least, enable
your reader to know what they are --- so that he can judge
for himself the ones which appeal most to him.
$80,000 IN PRIZES! HELP US FIND THE NAME FOR THESE NEW
review of good headlines could be considered even fairly
representative unless it included an example of one featuring
a prize contest. Of course, it first boldly displays how
much money can be won; secondly, what you have to do to
win some of it.
NOW! OWN FLORIDA LAND THIS EASY WAY...$10 DOWN AND $10
one also represents a commonly used headline offer ---
easy terms --- and conveys it forcefully and persuasively.
TAKE ANY 3 OF THESE KITCHEN APPLIANCES --- FOR ONLY $8.95
(VALUES UP TO $15.45)
familiar reduced-price offer which we see in so many different
and alluring forms.
SAVE 20 CENTS ON TWO CANS OF CRANBERRY SAUCE --- LIMITED
example of the ever-popular coupon-redemption offer. "Limited
offer" to increase response. (Sometimes an actual
expiration date is stated, to spur quicker action.)
ONE PLACE SETTING FREE FOR EVERY THREE YOU BUY!
now we've finished running the hundred --- except for
this last type of headline: the ubiquitous free offer.
The rules specify (as exemplified here) that when something
must also be bought, this requirement must be displayed
with sufficient prominence. "Free" is, of course,
a hackneyed and moss-covered word, but there doesn't seem
to be any equally strong, or less blatant, substitute
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