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Where Are You Headed?

Sometimes it's not as much what your headline says as where you place it.

This story appears in the April 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

An advertising guru of considerable stripe once made the pronouncement, "Copy is king"-meaning the sales message in an advertisement is more important to its success than the visual component. But today, in an era filled with dancing banner ads and animated e-mail, words go down better when they're presented in an arresting visual setting-even in print ads. That's certainly the case for the ad highlighted here, where the provocative composition of the headline draws readers in for a look-see.

Produced for the Office of Economic Development in Oakland, California-an organization whose purpose is to attract businesses to relocate to the city-this ad gets an A+ for the way its unique, stacked headline blocks attract (or, one might say, distract) the eye. Because it's hard to lasso racing readers, especially with a long headline, it takes a mold-breaking composition like this one to pull the prospect in. You can't help but be drawn to follow this headline's stagger, with different-sized stepping stones, from the top left corner of the ad to the middle. Equally important is the way it's broken into fragments of phrases and individual words, each offered in a different type size. But make no mistake, this mosaic wasn't just thrown together. A lot of thought was put into making words like "heck" and "Oakland" leap out of the pack.

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