Copywriting: the how-long-is-a-piece-of-string theory
Copywriting is the part of the advertising process most subject to change. Here’s why:
1. Everyone has done some writing at some point in their lives. This means that everyone involved in the process feels somewhat qualified to pass judgement on a piece of writing. It doesn’t matter that the last thing they wrote was an essay about their summer holidays, they know what they like and they’ll want that reflected in the lines. And whether it’s the planner, CD, CEO, junior client, senior client, tea lady or client’s chauffeur’s mistress, many people thinks their opinion on writing is as valid as the professional writer’s.
2. Copywriting is cheap. If you need to reshoot or spend another fifty grand on a different music track, there are definite and obvious limitations, most of them financial. But copywriting costs as much as a pen, some paper and a living copywriter (the price of a Starbuck’s white chocolate and raspberry muffin and an americano), so you can go again and again and again at no extra cost. I know hours are logged on time sheets and all that, but that happens in every process; copywriting is the most cost-effective part of the advertising process, so lets have some more.
3. Copywriting looks quick. Admittedly, you may need some time to set a line or two, but compared to the creation of the brief, approval of the work, production of the work and post-production of the work, coming up with lines can appear to be a very speedy process. Although the lead up can take ages, the actually writing of a line only really takes about ten seconds, so if you need 100 lines you might only need twenty minutes – or so many people seem to think.
4. People don’t like making decisions. I’ve been called into situations where literally hundreds of lines have already gone off to the client with no success. This is almost certainly because it’s far easier to ask for more than it is to finally make a choice, then take responsibility for that choice. Far easier to say that you asked them to keep going but nothing quite worked, which is why you ended up with ‘EuroMegaBank: moving forward into the future’.
And you’re never allowed any help, like getting a comedy writer in for a funny script or a newspaper columnist for a short, witty argument. That keeps it all as quick and cheap as it can possibly be.
EuroMegaBank: moving ahead of the past
EuroMegaBank: speeding towards the future
EuroMegaBank: crashing into the future
EuroMegaBank: burning for your futures
A QR code says a thousand words.
Your post is great. We like it a lot. “Hooray” is so cute, very creative but we have few minor modifications, nothing big. Looking forward to working with you!
5. Nine times out of ten, regardless of whatever the brief says, they just want a pun.
Everyone loves puns.
And art directors say,
“I need you to lose a word in the second line.” Hey mate you’re the fucking art director so adjust the art direction to fit the copy in. Not the copy to fit the art direction ya big asymmetric-haired, stupid-trousered, fixie-driving, waistcoated fucko.
Tough day at the office, dear?
All my days at the office are a joy. And I’m not kidding.
If anyone wants to back seat copywrite, ask them to match Sally Hogshead’s 100 headlines/ad technique
for 8 BMW bike ads.
Then call them a cunt.
‘All my days at the office are a joy. And I’m not kidding.’ That’s a cryptic clue?
Joy at the office is your p.a and there are no interruptions from pesky kids. Am I Right?
The worst thing is when account people try and ‘help’ by writing lines themselves. Bloody management encouraging collaboration was a terrible idea.
I haven’t conducted any kind of survey, obviously, but I bet there’s a correlation between ADasCD vs Lack Of Writing Approved In Reviews.
I think that’s the prob. We had a CD once who was a massively awarded Art Director, but he wasn’t really very good at reading (seriously). We’d hand him some dialogue-heavy scripts and he’d pore over them, very slowly, whilst (and here’s the kicker) mouthing the words as he read them.
When was the last time you saw that? I’ll tell you. Second year of juniors, div-kid who had special help. You know the one. Perennial dangle of snot, corrective shoe, slightly-too-big head…
The retards are taking over the spaz-home.
If people don’t understand/value writing, we’re well and truly buttfucked…
I don’t like puns. Well, I do like puns. I also like blowjobs. Just not on a billboard.
26 letters. That’s all it takes. Funny how so many people can fuck it up.Funny how, in a world where ‘nobody reads copy any more’ copywriters are more needed than ever before. And less valued than ever before.
But hey, that’s just my hangover talking.
What’s this all about? Can’t be bothered to read it.
The pen is cheaper than the sword.
Why aren’t we allowed help? I’ve always wondered that.
Art Directors can get a massively famous designer or photographer to, essentially, do their work for them.
Why can’t we get Julian Fellowes to write our latest lifestyle ad for us? Or Tim Vine to write our puns?
Should we copywriters be moving towards more of a copy director role? Especially as stupid rules about SEO start creeping into online writing.
Obviously, I’d never want this to happen as I love writing too much. But just imagine, what if, eh?
I like your blog and I couldn’t be bothered reading it.
Art Directors, direct.
Knowing what ‘famous designers’ or photographers to use is a skill just like writing.
Nobody ‘helps’ art directors, they help themselves.
And considering most people react to visual stimulus getting this right is – in my opinion as an art director – just as important as any words you put on a page.
Art Directors also come up with ‘the idea’ just as much as any other fucker.
@dickhead – i wasn’t having a pop at art directors (I have one of my own after all) and I’m sorry you’re so insecure that you’d think that.
I completely understand the skills involved in, and the importance of, getting the visual right.
What I was asking was why copy shouldn’t be treated in the same way?
Why shouldn’t copywriters, direct?
“No one reads copy.”
Most body copy sucks because most copywriters don’t pay enough attention to it. Why do you think headline-only ads became such a fashion? Headlines win statues. Copy sells products. I know which one I’d rather have.
“Can we eliminate a word in line two?”
Can we eliminate that photo? No? Then get fucked.
“We like the copy, but we have changes. To all of it.”
Sure! By all means. You couldn’t write the ad originally, so you hired an ad agency. But somewhere in between hiring us and receiving that ad, you’ve become master creatives. I mean, obviously. So, yes, please unsheathe the red pen of client creativity and have at this pesky amateurish hodge-podge of copy and MAKE IT SING like only a client can.
Belligerent, off-key, and about nothing.
It is true. But in my experience, once you’ve got the relationship with the client, they leave you to do your thing.
It’s not easy. But you have to get in front of the client. And you have to risk them taking you off the account.
Too many copywriters hide behind tantrums and suits. Respect must be earned. Now more than ever.
Get it right, and the client will be your biggest fan and every other fucker will leave you alone.
Also a lot of copywriters are shit and do our trade no favours at all.