OPINION: Lessons from London

Graham Monkman
By Graham Monkman | 17 July 2012

A friend in the UK recently sent me a copy of the London Daily Telegraph published on the day of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration. It was well supported with advertising, most of it with a royal slant and richly endowed with those clever headlines which London does so well. An ad for Theakston beer was headlined ‘Hoppy and Glorious’ and a whole page for Fiat - showing a royal wave from the driver’s seat window - was accompanied by the headline ‘One Never Knew 0 - 60 could be so much fun’.

The other thing which stood out was the quality of the art direction and typesetting – simple, tasteful and above all, readable. I have always felt that over here, computer technology has successfully destroyed decent press advertising – eclipsing effective communication with typographical acrobatics, including a predilection for body copy set in unreadable reverse type.

As Andy Flemming observes (Opinion 2nd July), ‘we have lost either the will or the capacity to craft good magazine ads.’ And it’s so true. Rather than concentrating on the emotional impact and message of an ad, our creative teams concentrate on its look - and this approach is the kiss of death. Today’s press admakers in Australia would do well to try and understand David Ogilvy’s philosophy that ‘what you say is more important than how you say it.’

When it comes to writing print ads, the capacity to craft is also lamentably absent. When I came to Australia in 1982, I remember noticing two of the most predictable headlines of all time: ‘Daihatsu –Dat’s Who’ and ‘Say Hi to Hyundai’. Sadly, Australia still abounds with predictable headlines - and its predictability which differentiates an average headline from a crafted one.

John Hegarty (AdNews June 23) identifies an ideal relationship between a company’s advertisement and consumers as being one that stimulates, excites, and where people say ‘wow, I want to have a conversation with these people.’

This outcome is never achieved with a predictable headline, whereas the consumer will associate a clever and original headline with a clever and innovative company.

I also totally agree with Andy’s recipe for improvement, namely: switch off the Mac, reach for your layout pad, get your nose out of photo libraries - and write the hundreds of possible headlines which will eventually lead you to a good one. Writing a good ad takes ongoing commitment, discipline and plenty of midnight oil.

They don’t have a problem with this in London, and neither should we.

Graham Monkman
Freelance Copwriter
Lisarow NSW

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