As a freelance copywriter, I enjoy (though what enjoy means is problematic) a fair amount of time perusing news sources of one kind or another, some legit, like the NYT and the WSJ, others a bit more, how shall I say, off the beaten path, like Cracked.
Still, being an ad guy, I dredge the usual sources: Adweek, Ad Age, CA, and since I do pharma marketing, MM&M. Every so often, I come by a LOL headline, one which makes me wonder how much thought went into writing it and how much relevance it might have to do with what I do for a living.
So it was that I read “Meet the Woman Who Could Turn Jet.com Into the Digital Era's Ultimate Challenger Brand.”
First off, I thought, gee, I had no idea that there was even a category of things called “Digital Era Challenger Brands.” I suppose the copy gang relies on shorthand expressions to telegraph the content of the story. But they typically rely on a bit of oomph to lure us in (oomph being a lovely expression that coveys the meaning behind phrases like “must read” or “10 things you need to know about _______” etc.)
Anyway, the oomph was provided by an overbearing adjective, “Ultimate.” I mean, who can resist not wanting to know about an Ultimate Challenger? And an Ultimate Challenger to the Digital Era? What could this mean? And paying it off with a subhead that totally cinched it: “Will Walmart's backing help unseat Amazon?” This sounds like a Star Wars Post-apocalyptic-Prequel! Holy shit.
So, did I bother to read the story? I skimmed the start but thought, oh my god, I’m on deadline. Nofuckingbody is taking down Amazon. Not even Wal-Mart. If they could, it would have happened by now. And if they were, it would be, I don’t know, covered by the NYT or the WSJ. Just saying.
But kudos to the headline guys. Great grabber. Great click-bait!
©2016 John Hofmeister. Illustration from Steve Lovelace blog, where you'll find a guide to clickbait — fun read BTW. Originally published at http://www.jhofmeister.com/musings
When I'm not writing for clients, I write about things that interest me. Quite of bit of satire, a genre that has become increasingly difficult to work in since reality has become such a farce.