Monday, August 22, 2005

Well, duh!

When I was growing up, that was the favorite put-down from my beatnik cousin Laurie. It was her bored expression of total contempt for the views of teachers, parents, The System -- and anyone outside her own circle of terminally jaded teenage friends.

As someone who occasionally works in the area of marketing communication, I try to warn colleagues and clients against taglines, headlines, and subject lines that are so wimpy and self-evident that they simply beg for the "well, duh!" response. Or the puzzled "so what?"

Every few days I get an email from the Democrats, and I cringe. Today, feeling guilty about my utter lack of enthusiasm for the party that needs to be leading us away from the Bush mess, I put the subject lines of their emails to the "well, duh!" and "so what?" tests. Do any of these pique your interest?

  • They deserve answers
  • The fight starts now
  • A victory for democracy
  • Changing stories
  • Rove has to go
  • How are we doing?
  • Actions speak louder than words
  • Dividers, not uniters
  • Show America the truth

Talk about preaching to the choir! Nothing about any of these subject lines makes me want to open the email and be subjected to another santimonious, droning, Democratic finger-wagging. At most, I can be grateful that these flaccid subject lines give plenty of warning of the well-intentioned drivel just a click away.

Now try these news reader subject lines:

  • Let's just say the unlikely happens
  • The problem with lawyers (part of an ongoing series)
  • Will you help us?
  • Clueless
  • Hurry!
  • The best thing I never said
  • Hard to be nice (easy to be mean)
  • Hot day hot stock
  • It makes you sick?
  • How to make a jillion dollars
  • A pox on (most of) their houses

These are from the blogs of marketing guru Seth Godin and management guru Tom Peters, two of the best-read blogs online. These headlines make me at least want to click through and read a few paragraphs.

Now if only the Democrats would hire one of these guys.

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