I came across this banner ad tonight.


I know it’s not as sexy to talk about advertising concepts as it is to talk about the technology that advances these concepts, but I’m a copywriter and this stuff is in my blood.

So what’s wrong with this ad? The second I saw it, I targeted the writer as a Junior. It’s not the art direction, as that’s actually a pretty strong visual and I happen to like classic layout. And it’s not the placement. This ad appeared on weather.com. The problem with this ad is the headline. Her Friends Will Be Jealous. It’s a knee jerk line that wasn’t written by someone who understands the nuances of ad writing.

ProFlowers paid for this ad to run. Thus, there’s a reason it’s there. Like with any banner ad, the goal is to A) capture my attention and B) get me to click through. And yes, to eventually buy – but an advertisement doesn’t sell a damn thing. Except an idea. Anyway, like I said I’m not a flowers-on-Valentine’s guy and my wife is cool with that. We’d rather spend that dough on going out to eat or a movie or something. Flowers die. Experiences have the potential to last a lifetime. No eighty-year-old woman has ever said to her eighty-year-old husband, “Remember those jacarandas you sent to me on Valentine’s day when we were 43? Such memories.” But I digress – this ad had a goal and is well placed. But the headline assumes too much. Her Friends Will Be Jealous implies that I will buy these flowers. Meh. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. It’s passive logic. And you can’t afford to be passive when your audience isn’t really paying attention anyway. Passive logic in advertising is roadkill.

This headline should be Make Her Friends Jealous. It’s quicker. It’s a call-to-action. It’s got some swagger. And most importantly, it’s active voice.

I don’t know if people would actually click through to the Pro Flowers site, but I do know from experience that people are more likely to act on a command rather than a hypothetical. Whenever you have the opportunity to tell your audience exactly what to do – do it.

And that, my friends, is how you write a headline for an ad. And as unsexy as it is, it needed to be stated.


Jim Mitchem

Marketing to Influence
Cole Under Pressure

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.