Can You Afford To Use These Strapline and Headline Cliches?

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Straplines. Some people are brilliant at them. They just leap out of bed thinking “Where do you want to go today? Premier Inn? Everything’s premier but the price. Just do it! I’m lovin’ it.

I am not one of those people. It takes me ages to come up with a decent strapline or headline. Before I come up with something good, I’ll cycle through a whole selection of tired and cliched straplines that sound suspiciously like ones I’ve rejected dozens of times before.

So if you’re having trouble writing a truly great strapline, take a look at some of these. If only so you know how not to write a great strapline or headline.

How Not to Write – My Top Eight Strap and Headline Cliches

New Year, New This, New That

On the face of it, it’s not a bad strapline to use come January 1st. It’s got the rule of three, and everyone loves new things. But seriously, it’s lazy, it’s cheap and it’s going to be used by dozens of other people. Just say no.

New [This Bit], Same Old Reliable [This Bit]

This is my default cliche. Entice the readers in with something new and exciting, while reassuring them that they can still get the comfortable old benefits too. And I hate it. Because it’s formulaic and dull. I need to think different.

This Mom’s Secret Way to [Benefit]

Why do headline writers fetishise mothers? If you believed popup ads, you’d think that mums (or, more likely, moms) held the key to world peace and everlasting life. But this headline’s almost sickly sweet. And let’s not forget mothers can make bad choices – that’s why mums go to Iceland.

We [X], So You Don’t Have to.

Of course you are. That’s why I’m paying you to do it. Try harder, put a tiger in your tank or something!

Fresh [Anything]

Fresh isn’t. It’s stale. It’s dull. It’s overused. It’s meaningless. The man from Del Monte would definitely say no.

Can You Afford To [Crippling Mistake]

All this headline tells me is that you’ve read Coppyblogger’s Magnetic Headlines series. Because the only people who use it are those that remember the headline formulas and not the advice about not using the same formula over and over. Eight out of ten cats would prefer it if you stopped.

We’re Committed to Customer Service

Great. Well done. Every single customer expects you to be committed to customer service, so all you’re really saying is “my product doesn’t have a standout benefit”. Are you really being all that you can be when you write straps like that?

Your Number One Choice for [Insert Service Here]

Ooh, choice. We all love a bit of choice. And look, you can drop your SEO keywords in at the end. But really? This is the best you can come up with? Clientboringservicewhoringdamnlazyareyoucrazydon’tpoutjustthrowitout… Copy.


I’m just scratching the surface here. There are more than eight cliched chunks of copy lurking around websites, brochures and radio adverts. So make sure you share yours in the comments section – because it’s our duty to let people know about these horrors.

And knowing is half the battle.


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10 Comments comments for "Can You Afford To Use These Strapline and Headline Cliches?"

  1. Larner says:

    I always say you’ve got to get the rubbish out before the decent stuff whacks you over the head like a great big lightbulb (or some other ideas-related cliche!). So I’m not so sure there’s much wrong with your process, Andy. And I do suspect that half of the people who supposedly spring out of bed and do get hit with the aforementioned bulb, will probably have been wading through some of that same rubbish for a week or so anyway.

    It’s when the stuff gets approved by CDs, Marketing Directors and MDs we really need to worry.

    I always liked Avis’ ‘We’re number two so we try harder’ approach and I suspect Simply Health have tried to go down that same route but in my humble opinion failed, monumentally, momentously and of course, miserably!


    • Andrew says:

      Yeah, I like the AVS stuff. Saying that, I saw a great strap today:

      “ – You’re Broke, We’ll Fix It.”

  2. Larner says:

    Like it. One of those ones you wish you’d thought of yourself!

  3. Alconcalcia says:

    Recruitment has always been good for cliches, both visual and written. Chess pieces, sunrises, eagles soaring, and of course the all-time classic as mentioned above, but in a work context “New Year, New Career”.

  4. Passionate about….
    The ….. specialists

    Headlines like this are a waste of time.

    I saw the new Terry’s Chocolate Orange ad the other day, it has a brilliant strapline: ‘Smash it to pieces – love it to bits’.

  5. Steve Logan says:

    Sloppiness is the refuge for the ‘doomed to fail’ and the ‘I don’t have time to do any better’ brigades (I’m in the latter by the way).

    Keep it simple. Keep it topical. Use alliteration always! “Totally tropical taste” – that’s all I have to say.

  6. Nice post. Straplines and headlines are so hard to do well, and the ones who do it badly are inadvertently telling you a lot about themselves. Anyone who says ‘we’re committed to (or passionate about) customer service’ is essentially saying, ‘we’re crap at everything else.’

  7. Steff Metal says:

    Argh, we’ve all been guilty of these! I am bad for “We X, so You Don’t Have To”. I also always have “Be Something. Be Something Else. Be Another Bloody Thing”. It’s like Larner said – these are the ones you write first, and the ones you throw out. This post reminds me of that Hemingway quote:

    “I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

  8. Lars Ekstrom says:

    Wiltshire Council a few years ago added the strapline: “where everybody matters”. In the last two years they have made lots of people redundant, the ones still there are wondering if they are next, there is the usual back biting, sucking up, kicking the ones below etc,etc. It is a pretty unhappy place. It has now turned into: “Wiltshire Council – where everybody MUTTERS”. I bet management wished they had not printed the strapline on absolutely everything, letters, business cards, adverts, signs, vans, lorries, you name it.

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