Tuesday 10 January 2012

Advertising is the art of the concept. Copywriting is the art of words

Ad agencies employ copywriters. But they tend to work alongside a designer in a creative team, focusing on creating ad concepts. Using a copywriting agency to do the word-based work can free ad creatives to focus on what they’re best at.

Lousy punctuation... Apostrophes absent without leave or in the wrong place... Flat vocabulary... Advertising copy can be a real source of wonder. But it can also look as if it was a last-thing-on-Friday afterthought. It’s understandable really: when you live for the big idea, the fiddly bits can seem slightly underwhelming.

Ask a top-flight agency creative copywriter to research and write a 28 page sales brochure and they’ll think you’re having a laugh. Draft an 80 page website so it’s consistent with the campaign? Get out of here. Write this trade flier? No can do, I’m late for lunch and it’s sushi day.

Call in the cavalry
Straplines are often pivotal to a campaign. They’re prominent, appear on everything and if they’re any good, they last for years. Often they’re the campaign concept encapsulated in words. And they’re notoriously difficult to get right. The whole brand essence in five words or less? Not easy. So, we can be brought in to create some ideas to add to the mix.

Good times, great clothes
That one's ours. Boden ran with it for eight years. Its replacement, ‘Wear life out’, lasted six months. Top tip: avoid the negative – especially references to death.

Strapline stories
Apparently, Saatchi’s were so stumped trying to come up with a strapline for British Airways they piled their entire agency into a huge conference room – everyone from the receptionist to the MD – locked the doors and didn’t let anyone out until they’d cracked it. The result? 'The world’s favourite airline'. A strapline which ran for 12 years and helped cement their status as, well, the world’s favourite airline.  
'Does my strapline look big in this?'

Then there’s Vodafone. Whenever they need a new strapline they sling the brief out to every single one of their creative agencies. Call it a numbers game, call it the scattergun approach, call it whatever you want: it brought them ‘Power to you’. So it must be working.

Down and dirty below the line
Brochures, fliers, sales letters, point of sale, blogs, emails… They’re all copy heavy and probably not the type of work that’s going to get an ad creative that coveted D&AD pencil glory. They’re also all essential to a successful campaign.

It might not always be glamorous, but we love this stuff, particularly creating collateral that coordinates and complements great ad campaigns.

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