Guide to small writing competitions

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Slogan, Caption and Tie-Breakers

This guide provides advice on how to enter and win slogan competitions, caption competitions, tie-breaker competitons and other short writing competitions in the UK.

Slogan competitions are generally won by clever, relevant wordplay with a rhyme. If the promoter is asking for a slogan, your entry will draw attention if it is company specific capturing the ethos or message outlined by the promoter.

Inspiration: Use Chestnut Slogans. You can agree or disagree, but just as cheesy gags get laughs, chestnuts sometimes still win the day. Some examples here: (play around with them though – it’s far nicer to win a creative competition by being creative – it’s entirely up to you!) Making a chestnut of your own would be nicer, but some copy and promoters none-the-wiser!

  • A leader in its class, a formula one cannot surpass.
  • Action packed, full of taste, (product) meals mean no waste.
  • Choice, value, taste supreme, (product) and (store) a winning team.
  • Chosen with flair by people who care
  • Delicious to the lips, murder on the hips.
  • Even if you're a beginner you're sure to bake a winner.
  • Experts perfect it, connoisseurs select it
  • For flavour and style, it comes first by a mile

Researching the internet for winning slogans is also a great way to get those creative wheels oiled.


Here, the emphasis is on raising a laugh with your razor sharp wit by interpreting an image. It’s harder to get away with using chestnuts in caption competitions – but it depends on the vibe of the promoter. My tip is – if it makes you laugh, it will probably make someone else laugh, that someone might be the promoter. There are several strategies at your disposal.

Keep a notebook of sentence starters – again, you can get these from researching the winning entries. You didn’t tell me…

Stock phrases: Some examples: I know you said ‘XYX’ but that is ridiculous.

Another option is to look beyond what is actually happening and see a different take on it. Once you see it, note it down and write your weird/surreal version. This strategy is good for caption competitions with a large amount of comments because all the most obvious answers will have been regurgitated in some fashion. Something that is weirdly brilliant sometimes wins.

Does it relate to a famous book/film/song title with a letter or a similar word change? (look to twitter hashtag word games for further inspiration) When Hamburger Met Sally, The Codfather. Obviously, it’s dependant on the contents within the photo.

Changing the words from a well-known cliché may raise a laugh – look at the picture. If you see a hand – could you relate it to: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush in a funny way? Something that is a twist on familiarity sometimes works – as long as it is funny and relevant.

Relating the picture to a funny topical news story is a double-edged sword. If it’s truly insightful and captures the tide, it can work, but can go against you. The promoter might really laugh at your caption but won’t want to offend any of the customers or chose a winner that compromises the ethos of the brand.

Many caption competitions are monthly, so look at the past winners before you enter and try to do something different.

50-100 word competitions

In no more than 50-100 word competitions are different to slogan and caption competitions. Here, you will need to do a rough first draft of your answer and polish it to perfection. Usually they are asking why you should win a prize or asking you to give an example of something.

Have an idea of what you want to say and cram as many points in there as you can. It’s easy to think that 50-100 words is quite a lot, but it only amounts to five/ten sentences so you’ll have to be as clear as possible. Imagine telling your answer to the promoter in a lift.

The Six Step Second Draft Check

  1. Does the point of what you are saying flow logically?
  2. Record you reading your entry aloud and then review it the next day. It’s amazing how much improvement can be made after a good sleep!
  3. Are you varying your sentence length? A short sentence should follow a lengthy one.
  4. Have you said in three words that could be said in one? Cut any words ending in ‘ly’ and look at the word that preceded or followed it – make the remaining word stronger. For example ‘I quickly ran’ becomes ‘I sped’.
  5. Rephrase for added punch: For example: ‘I would especially like to win this prize because at the moment, my gran is really ill and she loves chocolates.’ becomes: My poorly gran would love this prize – she’s ill - chocolates would aid her recovery in a way only your chocolates can! (Same amount of 21 words - but more powerful)
  6. Eliminate spelling and grammar errors by running a full grammar and spelling check.

Good Luck!

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More beginners guides to creative competitions