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August 25, 2014Fail harder. Never be afraid of failure.

When you’re young, summer is supposed to be fun. But somehow between adolescence and adulthood it turns into a time of terror — the time of dreaded exam results that supposedly determine the rest of your life.

If you’re a teenager and you’re reading this, stop right now and pay attention to these words: your exam results do not define you. What you get, ultimately, doesn’t matter.

In ten years time, you won’t even remember.

You won’t remember 90% of what you learned in school. And 99% of it you’ll never use.

The only time anyone ever asked what I …

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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 …

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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. …

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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.

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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 …

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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.

And …

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March 3, 2014Why Amazon should have presented their price hike as an apology

Amazon recently raised the price of their Prime membership by 60%. Yet they tried to claim it was a “saving” by bundling it with unwanted streaming video services. Instead of this dishonest trick that’s proven immensely unpopular, here’s what Amazon should have done if they needed to raise prices… apologise.

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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:

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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.

It’s Skyscanner.

Now this is …

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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 …

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January 15, 2014Us vs Them: Why the nuances in your copy matter

One 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.

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December 26, 2013The books I’ve read this year

My year in books: what does a copywriter read? As the year draws to a close, I thought I’d take a look at my bookshelf and, for the first time ever, analyse what I’ve been reading and why.

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