Sunday, March 16, 2014

Upworthy's Founder Talked At SXSW... And You'll Never Guess What He Said

Upworthy is one of the fastest-growing news websites in the world.

CEO Eli Pariser spoke at South by Southwest, and although his subject was news media, he had a very interesting lesson for us advertising folks.

In short, what he and his clickbait-loving journalists have realised is that the title you give something has a huge effect on whether people engage with it.

He cited a fantastic example. The video below, which features a young man talking about his two gay mothers - arguing passionately that they should not be discriminated against - was originally titled 'Zach Wahls Speaks About Family', and had been watched around 200,000 times. But once its title was changed to 'Two Lesbians Raised A Baby And This Is What They Got', the video took off, and has since been watched more than 18 million times.

In advertising, I believe we don't think carefully enough about the titles we give things.

If you're creating a piece of communication which is intended to be socially shared, you've simply GOT to come up with a title that is powerful and intriguing.

Even for something that isn't intended to be seen by consumers, titles are important. For example, the first thing anyone reads in a TV script is the title. And I've lost count of the number of scripts which have crossed my desk that go by the unbelievably bland name of 'Launch Ad'.

A CD or Client is going to see your script, and you want them to be excited about it. So give it an exciting name.

The same goes for project names. Often in advertising nowadays, we're not just creating a single piece of communication, but an entire suite of activity.

Give it a name. Always. Once something has a name, it becomes real. And if you give it an exciting name - like Durex Fundawear, or The Honesty Experiments - it's more likely to get made.


Ben said...

I once wrote a script about someone going for a job as a farmhand. I called it 'Hand Job'. I don't think that reflected well on me.

Anonymous said...

There's something wrong with the bloke in that video.

Lenny said...

It's also good to keep in mind awards ceremonies when coming up with titles: "And the winner is 'Polka Dot Bollocks'…" etc. Imagining your work's title coming from the mouth of a CCO (or other esteemed judge) can be extremely motivating.

Anonymous said...

Alex bogusky had similar examples with 'Subservient Chicken' and 'Whopper sacrifice'

Anonymous said...

The oldest advice in the book...i believe its called writing a good headline. Researchers also say that when laying out an article its good to bear in mind that people read in an 'F' pattern...scan horizontally twice and then lists are always good

Scamp said...

Yes, good point about titles that help awards juries. Indeed sometimes the work doesn't even make sense without them...

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed that especially on social media that headlines are full of hyperbole today and the content rarely delivers.

That is my worry, that more effort goes into the headlines than the content.

Is that a circualr argument thouh?

Anonymous said...

Bloody hell. It says a lot about the state of advertising in the last 20 years that you've got a well known CD talking about writing a decent headline as if it's a novel innovation.