Now that’s what I call a great headline

Here’s a fantastic example of how to write a great charity headline…

When did a piece of advertising of any sort actually stop you in your tracks? When did you last see a headline that was so compelling, so shocking, that your jaw dropped and you had no choice but to read the ad?

This happened to me yesterday with a small press ad, black and white, cheap left-hand page space.

I Wish My Son Had Cancer

There’s no way anyone could turn the page once their eye has been caught by a headline like that. Certainly not anyone with kids. Certainly not me.

Perhaps you’ve seen it?

The ad was for a charity promoting awareness of a condition called duchenne muscular dystrophy. The point of the ad was simple and very moving. A father of a young boy wished his son had cancer rather than duchenne MD. Because cancer is often curable and DMD isn’t. So his son was condemned to an early death.

Brutal, sure, but a sentiment any parent can readily identify with.

Naturally there’s been a lot of huffing and puffing by Outraged of Welwyn Garden City about the ad. But it did its job. It made me aware of the condition. It made me feel sorry for the little boy and his family.

(And of course it generated lots of PR too, an excellent and beneficial side effect to maximise the effectiveness of the media spend. Maybe deliberately. Good for them.)

Amid all the self-congratulatory, trendy and utterly invisible rubbish that advertising agencies pour into our media today, this little ad stands out as a blazing beacon of what powerful, memorable advertising is all about. Finding a genuinely compelling story and stating it simply and clearly.

[After publishing this blog I did a stint at AIS, the agency responsible, helping them with an Alzheimer’s Research DM campaign. Turns out my chum Kevin Bratley had a hand this ad. Fantastic work.]


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