Headlines are incredibly important, whether it’s for a billboard or a news article. The headline is often what draws the reader in and grabs their attention. But great headlines take a whole lot of time. In chapter 4 of Luke Sullivan’s “Hey Whipple Squeeze This” he recommends writing around 100 headlines for each usable headline. Now that’s excellent advice, but in my experience there isn’t always time to write 100 headlines.
With that in mind, this headline exercise will help get your pen moving and your mind thinking. And even though this method can help fledgling and seasoned writers with some quick ideas, it’s not meant to replace the efforts of an experienced copywriter.
Let’s start with an example
Write Clever Headlines Quickly: A Simple Formula
- Choose adjectives or attributes of your product (beef)
- Find a word that rhymes with a word in your list (chief)
- Look for idioms or common phrases of that word you can easily tweak. (Hail to the Chief)
- Now replace with the product attribute. (HAIL TO THE BEEF)
Adjective -> Rhyme -> Idiom -> Headline
Now this simple formula for writing clever headlines quickly probably seems like an oversimplification-and it is. As a copywriter, it takes a lot to come up with a list of usable headlines. And this particular headline on the McD’s billboard probably didn’t win any major awards. But on a regular basis I’m given deadlines that don’t allow me the time to come up with 100 headlines the way Luke Sullivan teaches. The more I’ve thought about this pattern the more I’ve started to see it used in advertising, particularly in the quick-service industry.
Two of my primary resources for this exercise: The Free Dictionary and Rhymezone.
It’s Your Turn
Take 5-minutes and practice writing clever headlines quickly. Use the McD’s billboard above and see what you can come up with.
Here’s a few that I cam up with in 5-minutes:
Don’t forget to Sauce daily
Show Them Who’s the Sauce
Mac to Mac
A Bun Deal
Take one for the team
Not great examples, but that proves that I really only took 5 minutes. I’m sure that yours will be much better.