When the headline detracts from the story you tell

Blog Headlines and the Story They Tell

In 1979, Bob Geldof penned ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’. A song, 40 years on that still receives significant airplay across the globe. Why is the song still in such demand? The context of the title? The discontent felt by the aggrieved worker when the Monday morning alarm rings out? or the story that inspired the Boomtown Rats 2nd No.1 single?

Even those of us that love our jobs, still find the switch from ‘weekend mode’, where we’ve hung out with friends or simply relaxed, back to ‘work mode’ tough.

So, surely as Bob Geldof penned those lyrics, crying out for us to ‘shoo-o-o-t the whole day down’ there’s a close association with how the majority of us feel on Monday morning, correct?


Recount the song in your head for a moment. What’s the moment you capture? The chorus? ‘Tell me why, I don’t like Mondays?’. That’s the takeaway from the song. Hell, even a rock star doesn’t like Mondays!

Dig a little deeper. Read the opening verse –

‘The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload
And nobody’s gonna go to school today
She’s gonna make them stay at home’

This isn’t a song about the frustrations many of us associate with. This isn’t about simply writing off our Mondays, staying in bed and forgetting our woes. It’s far darker. It’s about one particular 16 year old Californian’s feelings towards Monday. Due to the fact ‘she didn’t like Mondays‘ she aimed fire at the school across the road from her house killing 2 adults and injuring 9 school children.

This isn’t a song about uniting a nation of frustrated workers on a Monday morning.

As an audience, we sometimes hear only what we want to hear. The standout message of ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ is just that. Would the song be remembered without the memorable anthemic chorus? Would ‘I Don’t Like Fridays’ been as popular? I doubt it.

We create our own associations. Even when the lyrics are there in full for us to investigate. Only the most ardent of Boomtown Rats fans will recount the 3 verses that accompany the chorus. Even if we knew the lyrics did we ‘get’ the association?


Song’s mean different things to different people. Happy times, sad times. We invent our own context.

As marketers, if we focus our efforts on capturing attention, the eye-catching headline – the great sing-along chorus – will we lose control of the message that we’re trying to send?

If our message isn’t clear and concise. If our Font Size 48 headline doesn’t associate with our Font Size 12 message, will our stories, the finer elements of our marketing, be widely ignored?

If your advertising screams ‘vouchers’, ‘discounts’ and ‘limited time offers’, will I take you seriously when you produce a good that will truly benefit me at full price?

Sir Bob’s lyrics are painfully evocative. A story ignored. Make sure your story isn’t submerged by your headline statement, your chorus. What reasons do you need?

Tell me why…

Written By:

Ian Rhodes


Helping you use customer insights to unlock real ecommerce growth. Get my weekly email where I show you exactly how using the form below: