Look thru a Communications Arts Advertising Annual from just a half decade ago, and you'll find something very interesting. Words. Lots of them. Long headlines, short headlines, and body copy--both long and not so long. But fliping thru this year's ad annual, isn't quite the same experience.
Words--there aren't as many of them. So it goes without saying that the headlines, and the body copy are fewer and far between. And while I actually believe that we may be witnessing a slight increase in the value of copy (because its being utilized more efficiently) --the days of visual and headline, particuarly straight visual and smart headline--are nearly exctinct. Visual solutions have uped their frequency dramatically in recent times, and they're becoming quicker, smarter and easier to read. I'll admit, they work. And when they work well like Ogilvy Johannesburg's Harley Davidson campaign ('06 Annual, pg. 45), there's simply no better way of saying it with words.
They preach to us in ad school all the time, say it without saying it. But in today's world of consumer instant-gratification--how much room is there left to say something, without saying it, but still using words to do it? It's understandable that the industry will go through different fazes, where certain styles become popular, and dominant for periods of time--and I'm sure in time, we'll see more headlines--we'll see more body copy, but here's where the trend is most relavant to all of us ad school students: What does that mean for my book?
A big reason why I started this blog is to gain some sort of feel and understanding of what kind of thinking, and maybe what kinds of executions ad schools are pushing over others. At Brainco, while the writers still write a mildly fair share of straight headline-driven ads, I feel that all the good teachers almost discourage using headlines primarily. Of course, it comes down to having the great small idea within the great or good big idea, but the line of thinking sees headline driven ads as only one very small possible solution amongst countless other ways that strategies can be executed. "If you're going to do a headline campaign--it better be fucking awesome," an instructor of mine says. And to be completely honest, I agree.
The ad above, goes to recent Creative Circus grad, Adam Samara as a print campaign for LA Boxing Gym. It says: "Win arguments without saying a word." Did he do it? I think so. Is it a great headline? I'm curious to know what all of you think, and what you're experiences are in terms of the value of copy, and the value of headlines at your respective schools.
To me, a great headline is a great small idea. It isn't about how gracefully, or poetic the line is written--though phrasing and termonology is important--but it's about how originally you can arrticulate the strategy. There aren't really any set rules, but I think it should suprise me. Look for more rants on lines in the future. Thanks for your eyes, thanks for your thoughts. I know you'd rather prefer a picture, but somethings--even today, can only be said in words. Thank goodness.