#Idea – Copywriting Bullshit / 18.02.2013

So, I don’t subject people to rants unless there’s an educational subtext to it. But I’m a footsoldier in the endless war on bullshit, so, THIS is my moral obligation.

Here goes…

There’s a new rule of the internet in headline writing that few are aware of, but once you see it, you’ll absolutely shit brix…

I heard it from Ryan Holiday, who wrote an excellent book called ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying’ – which was, incidentally, an incredible and insightful read.

Anyway, back to the rule…

*Rule*: You can lie as much as you want in your headline PROVIDED you put a question mark at the end of your statement…

Think about it. Then take a look at the titles of the articles you see online. Most especially look at the ads you see, all posing these stupid questions that you are supposed to answer by clicking through….

“Network Marketing Success?”

(No – just an opt in form that’ll try and upsell the perpetual opportunity seekers)

“Get Ripped In 4 Weeks?”

(Not this way you won’t)

“How Do Celebs Get Their Slim Tummies?”

(Clicking through won’t answer the question and it’s certainly not gonna happen with ‘raspberry ketones’, lol)

Et cetera, ad nauseum, ad infinitum…

If you look at it, often the headline wasn’t even a question in the first place, just a vehicle put there to make such blatant bullshit in the title ‘permissible’ and to encourage clicks.

Ruining it for the rest of us?

As a professional word slave, and sometimes ad copywriter perhaps I should feel indignant about such cheap tricks ‘smearing’ the industry. But I’m finding it far more amusing to play a game of ‘spot the bullshit headlines’ instead. And it’s almost too easy these days.

Can’t stop a roaring river with your bare hands, afterall.

So, here’s the goddamn Protip: ***Posing a bullshit statement as a question, doesn’t make it any less bullshit. It just makes it bullshit with a question on the end of it.***

And I’d like us compulsory consumers of advertising to see it for what it is…


And I’d also like these marketers to either piss off or go sell something worth buying (but they won’t do either of these things – cos it obviously works too well)

The more you know…

P.S – There’s another version of this game where you play ‘spot how many times advertising headlines use the phrase “weird trick”

Again the game is far too easy, and if you write for a living it may harm your self esteem…

bull black and white photo
Photo by stimpsonjake

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