Ten years ago there was a great big kerfuffle about the lack of copy in press ads.
For four years running the best ad at the Campaign Press Awards (by the way, is it just me or did those awards seem worth winning back in the day? Nowadays we have the strange smorgasbord of the BIG Awards and its expensive hardback annual that no one really wants, and of the ones who want it no one can really be arsed to read through it all. Not like the old Press Awards pamphlet which, like the Poster Awards and BTAAs, arrived with your Campaign the next day and told you quite clearly who all the winners were. Now no one knows and even fewer people care) was won by an ad with not a single word beyond the name of the client. This led to much prediction of the end of the written word in advertising and was capped off by Trevor Beattie christening this thing the ‘proster’.
It also inspired Robin Wight to write this article.
In those days there was a definite formula to winning at Cannes and it involved using as few words as possible to appeal to jurors from lots of countries who might not appreciate the intricacies of the English language. It also showed a reductive elegance, getting a message across with as few elements as possible to show Maximum Meaning, Minimum Means.
But if you look at the press and poster winners this year there are words all over the place. Perhaps not loads of headline-visual-body copy executions, but certainly something more complex than the old proster. Is this a trend or was the proster not so much a trend as a little blip or coincidence?
Perhaps it all goes to prove the answer to that great riddle: what four words can make a sad man happy and a happy man sad?
First one to get the right answer gets the satisfaction of doing so.