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Come to a Head

Once you've got a great headline for your ad, don't skimp on the details.

When you need great advertising ideas, where do you turn? By "great," we don't mean the irrelevantly brilliant advertisements that win awards for creativity and make handsome artwork for office walls. Those often cost a lot to design and produce, but that doesn't mean they sell worth beans. The great advertising ideas we're talking about are the ones you can potentially spot every day, whether you're reading a newspaper or turning the pages of a glossy magazine. Each month in this column, we'll spotlight a currently running ad that promises to teach you a lot about producing your own effective advertising.

Because the buying public is so bombarded with ads on a daily basis, consumers are desensitized to all but the most provocative of them. This column's goal is to ferret out those head-turning exceptions, discuss what makes them draw attention, recommend how you might sprinkle some of their stardust on your own efforts, and even suggest how they can be improved.

Case in point: Consider the ad shown here for Silk, a popular soy milk manufactured by White Wave Inc. in Boulder, Colorado. The headline, "Put A Smile On Your Prostate," gets a solid A+ for its unexpected, whimsical approach to touting the product's health benefits in an era of rising prostate cancer. The smiling cereal is also eye-catching.

To make this ad even better, I'd beef up the body copy. This ad would be much better off if it answered the question, "Why choose this soy milk over others?" According to the Silk Web site, Silk was rated the best-tasting soy milk by the American Taste Institute just two years ago. That's quite a selling point-and should be clearly stated in this ad. Another fact worth including: Silk is manufactured from the whole soybean, which is supposedly a superior way of extracting nutrients compared to the ground version used by competitors.

There's a lot you can take away from this ad. The headline, "Put a smile on your (fill in the blank)" would convey an effective message for any number of products that offer improvement of some kind. Even variations, such as "Make your (fill in the blank) smile" or "Is your (fill in the blank) smiling like this one?" would work.

But remember, grabbing attention isn't enough. For a really effective message, make sure to point out why your product is better than the competition's.


Jerry Fisher is a freelance advertising copywriter and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising.

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This article was originally published in the January 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Come to a Head.

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