Make Your Headlines Work. Add a Visual.
Posted By Cynthia Hartwig on April 3, 2012
You might be surprised to know that headlines are lazy. They often lie dank and listless without an interesting visual.
Take it from me—a former ad agency creative director with more years of experience than I care to admit: almost any headline can be saved with a great image.
“Real” copywriters—not the Copyblogger hacks, but the kind who work for creative agencies such as Wieden + Kennedy (the agency that gave us Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” campaign) and BBDO-Taiwan (the agency that created the Melchers Travel ad below), have used this technique for eons.
They combine intelligent headlines with visuals that complete the idea.
Let me break it down for you. In this ad for Harley-Davidson created by Momapropaganda, you, the reader, have to “get” that the six-year-old we’re looking at is a tattooed and bitchin’ Harley rider in the making.
Remember, the best visuals supply a missing piece of information when combined with words. When the reader can barely see the mom-and-child photo because the desktop is so busy, they “get” instinctively that it’s time for a vacation. And the lazy copywriter doesn’t even have to say the word.
Great visuals are available everywhere these days, with the rise of Creative Commons on Flickr and many inexpensive photo-sharing sites. Just be sure to comply with the usage rights for each image (they’re always visible if you right-click the photo); it’s bad karma to steal something that doesn’t belong to you.
And just for fun, here’s a free image from me that’s dying to mate with a lovely headline from you. Shoot me your creative pairing and I’ll run the winner in a future blog post.