July 21, 2015Stop listening
The ‘B’ in DDB, Bill Bernbach, once said:
“We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it.”
As I sat and watched five days of focus groups tear into the scripts I’d spent the last six months crafting, I wondered how much this was true.
In the golden age of above the line advertising, it was easy to ‘change the conversation’, as Don Draper put it, in the stroke of an ad.
The Smash Robots made potatoes seem old fashioned all of a sudden. Benson and Hedges got people talking about tobacco with a series …
A friend of mine tweeted a link to this ad for a luxury block of flats. “This looks like an outtake from American Psycho,” I said on watching it. Which was pretty much everyone else’s response, judging from this Independent article today (you can watch the ad, too).
Ad creatives around the country are probably groaning, and this is such a particularly bad example that it’s unlikely it’s made by any of the bigger London shops. In fact, it may well have been put together by an in-house marketing team.
Yet the ad industry needs to face up to …
December 10, 2014How do you work with a client who keeps you guessing?
I think it’s happened to every copywriter at some point. The client who knows exactly what they want. But they can’t put it in words. Or rather, they probably can put it in words, they just won’t. Instead, they make you play a guessing game. Because you’re the copywriter. You should know.
It’s the exact opposite of the pixel-pushing backseat designer (or “hovering art director“) who watches over you constantly “suggesting” adjustments. What do you do when you get a client who knows exactly what they want but won’t tell you, insisting ‘you’re the copywriter, you should know’?…
June 28, 2014And now a word from our sponsors
I will admit it. I am one of life’s moaners. Partly, it comes from being an obsessive perfectionist. I will get upset if a comma is out of place, I will be unhappy if a concept isn’t executed exactly as I planned it. When it comes to my work, I’ve always insisted on perfection.
But perfection isn’t always possible. And so I’ve developed a reputation at the places I’ve worked as someone who’s never quite happy. There’s a certain value in being an obsessive perfectionist, but I’ve started to think it’s led to people thinking I’m never satisfied, never happy …
June 2, 2014Five rules for being a better creative
It’s far easier to destroy than to create. Anyone who’s ever kicked over a sand castle on the beach knows this to be true.
And like the proverbial bully who kicks over the castle that the other boy has spent hours perfecting, when you’re a creative, it can be just as easy to kick apart an idea just as it’s taking shape.
Partly it stems from a sense of creative frustration. It’s easy to take the page you’ve written and tear it in half, or press delete. All creatives are perfectionists. We have a vision of how it should look. …
May 5, 2014Long copy is back. Storytelling is here.
Long copy is back and boy, don’t you know it.
Check this out: It’s not a print ad, it’s the tiny type on an enormous billboard. The only other thing on the board is a pint.
It’s not unusual for a billboard to tell a story. But it’s bloody unusual for it to tell it exclusively with words.
But that’s what’s happening. The power dynamic has shifted away from the high-gloss world of beautiful visuals and captivating imagery and back to the slower, more thoughtful, yet often more engaging world of copy.
I don’t think this is a very good …
April 6, 2014Sell the product, not the lifestyle.
Writers. We do love our silence.
After all, we’re only one step removed from the library, the garret, the dusty bookshelf.
Of course in reality copywriters never get the peace and quiet we need to scribble or to think.
In offices we’re bothered by loud, boisterous music — or loud, boisterous people. I once had to share a desk with a man whose job it was to read the same sales script over and over, every day.
When we’re lucky enough to be working from home, we may have kids under our feet or noisy neighbours over our heads.
February 12, 2014Make it memorable
Continuing my recent series of blog posts about stuff I’ve seen on the Tube on the way home, this card caught my eye. Several times:
It’s great copy — a beautifully poetic way to state the product’s awesome USP. Yes! This is exactly what you’re looking for when booking flights, hotels etc… something that will find you that elusive bargain that makes your journey affordable.
Then I got to thinking… why did this ad catch my eye several times? Because no matter how hard I tried, I could never actually remember the product’s name.
Now this is …
February 4, 2014Millennials: Why they matter
If you’re not reading The Ad Contrarian already, stop what you’re doing and start reading him now. He writes better than I do and his insight about this industry is second to none (except perhaps Sell! Sell! who you also need to be reading).
But when he described millennials as “narcissistic jerk offs”, I felt it was important to disagree. The Ad Contrarian thinks they’re not worth bothering with until they get older. I think it’s important to listen to them now. Here’s why:
1. Millennials are still consumers
It’s true. They don’t have much money. But they …
January 15, 2014Us vs Them: Why the nuances in your copy matterOne tiny mistake can ruin an entire ad, changing its tone of voice and making it seem cold and distant. When it comes to copy, nuances matter. Here's why.