Wednesday, 15 May 2013

More bills to make you smile ... and wince

Since my piece on the art of newspaper bill writing and its follow-ups here and here, I have been sent many more examples, some new and some old, but all worth an airing. So here's an update. 

One of the best recent ideas I have come across is tweeting the bills each evening, as The Northern Echo does, to encourage readers to buy the paper and visit its website. A neat transition from old print methods to the digital ways - and a simple and effective method of reaching a new audience.

Another example of creativity comes from the Nottingham Post where the bill was given a new dimension altogether. Singer/songwriter Ronika featured in the paper and online in a Q&A on her eating habits. Rather just bill it, the paper persuaded the singer to sit alongside the poster with a plate of food. The bill as performance art - certainly a new one on me.

It reflects the enthusiasm for bills by consultant editor Alan Geere who tweeted the picture above with the comment 'Still love going out to see the #bills wot I wrote and people buying the @Nottingham_Post.'

There are some good examples of ambiguous bills kicking around and this one from the Standard deserves to join the collection. I wonder if it was deliberate.

I think my favourite of the recent bills, is this from the Bristol Post. It seems like a lenient sentence to me. 

Names, particularly of famous people, will often tease people to buy so a good effort here from the South Wales Evening Post.

Animal stories sell too (just ask the Daily Mail). Here are a few worth a mention. A tortoise called Adolf? Really? Not too sure whether the animal porn story would be to many tastes - but it sounds so shocking it might just tempt someone to pick up a paper.

I can honestly say I have never seen pot-pourri used in a bill before - and in Hull of all places.

Of course the art of the bill is to tease the reader to buy. Here are a couple that might just work. The 'rub a dub dub' bill is from the Cheddar Valley Gazette. What on earth can it mean? Buy the paper to find out. That's the idea.

Sometimes bills can be so surprising and bizarre that they will turn potential readers' heads as they walk past - and that's half the battle.  

That said, I'm not sure this one would shift many papers. 

Sex, something we tend to hold at arm's length in regional newspapers, is a proven seller. These will certainly have aroused curiosity. The last one is from the Leicester Mercury.

The Argus in Brighton which brought us such classics as 'Window cleaner killed by giant pencil' and 'Crow steals golfer's trolley' appears to adopt a novelty approach to its bill writing. Although some of these may be old, they are still worth a look. The last one shows an interesting approach to positioning - a bill about a man choking to death on a kebab outside a kebab shop. 

I am a big fan of bills. Using five words to persuade some-one who wasn't going to buy the paper (or visit the website) to change their mind is a great art. Keep them coming and I'll use them in the next instalment.


  1. There were some real doozies here. In our country which has 11 official languages one newspaper mixes the languages to such a degree that one has to buy the paper just to find out what the heck they are talking about.

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