Do you read The National Enquirer and other tabloids?

I’ve now heard this secret mentioned by too many copywriters to count…Doug D’Anna, Bob Bly, Gary Halbert, Ben Settle, Scott Haines, Eugene Schwartz…

All of them advocate reading “junk” magazines like The National Enquirer. In fact, several have described this habit as their “secret weapon” to finding killer copywriting ideas.


First, it’s supposedly a great source of headline ideas. Tabloids (and other magazines like Cosmo) spend millions to test which headlines grab people as they wait in line supermarkets. You can, in theory, leverage this research to find the hot buttons which work in your market.

Second, for B2C markets especially, it’s supposed to help you better understand the mindset of the “common people” to better connect with them in your copy.  This is also the reason why Eugene Schwartz suggested watching all the popular blockbuster movies, such as Transformers 2 or Iron Man 2.

I have to admit I’ve only read a handful of tabloids my entire life. In truth, I’m more curious to the crazy UFO headlines of The Sun or Weekly World News (and recent headlines like this:  BAT BOY PUT IN CHARGE OF U.S. CYBER COMMAND).

What can I say? I’m just not into celebrity gossip. I’m also probably too much a snob in my reading habits.

But next time I’m at the grocery store, I’m going to grab a couple of tabloids to read through.  Maybe I’ll even make it a habit.

So let me know, just between you and me: Do you read The National Enquirer and other tabloids? For copywriting ideas only, of course…

** UPDATE **

Turns out Sean McCool had an excellent post on this very topic a few weeks ago.  Check it out now:  “In Advertising Copy, Low Culture is Big Money”


  1. Chris Tai says:

    Tabloids such as the National Enquirer are lowering the intelligence levels of the general population. They get too concerned with news about celebrities that they are oblivious to world events, and sometimes are happy about it (the truth hurts, I guess).
    Also, their stories are not very accurate, and they are one of the biggest engineers of libel in the United States. “Tiger Woods affair confirmed”. Big friggen deal. Americans can do without these magazines, just as they can do without Facebook or Twitter.
    Yes, they do have very catchy titles, even with the basic “What were they thinking?”, that grabs the attention of consumers at grocery stores. However, they should use their magazine in order to put forth world knowledge, rather than celebrity knowledge. These people went to college for journalism, and the best they can do is produce stories, usually false, that damage the reputation of their subject? The world is crumbling, and it starts with the people that enjoy these tabloids.

  2. Ruben says:


    So did you end up picking up a copy of The National Enquirer and taking it with you? Recently I’ve been hearing about how great these mags are for learning to write headlines. I’ve haven’t bought a copy yet, but I’ll read it while my wife does the shopping. The ads inside these are also pretty good to swipe.

    Along the same lines as the tabloids, I just saw an interview of Springer on Response Magazine. Here’s the link: He talks about how great his show is for marketers and how much business it generates for them. He also touches on the topic of why his show has lasted so long. Basically, he says the show has a different model than all the other shows trying to follow the Oprah Winfrey model, thus leaving him in what is essentially the only option available to his target market. My two cents.

    @Chris Tai. You seem to have a lot of “they should do this, they should do that”. What are you doing to stop the so-called crumbling of this world? ‘What should be’ and ‘what is’ are worlds apart when it comes to our nature as humans, so why bemoan it. Instead, harness it.