You could always spot where a copywriter trained.

People who’d been to university always wrote their copy with a pencil.

People who’d been to art School always used a typewriter.

Why is this?

I think it’s because university writers ‘hear’ copy.

While art school writers ‘see’ copy.

So a university writer is listening when they write.

To the flow of the words, the rhythm of the argument.

An art school writer is looking at what it looks like on the page.

Have I got the line breaks in the right place?

Are there any widows?

Where should the indents go?

A university writer isn’t interested in any of that.

What it looks like is the art director’s problem.

And yet the biggest influence on advertising writing wasn’t a copywriter.

It was an art director.

Helmut Krone. .

He did it on the very first Volkswagen ads.

Until then, all art directors used to see the ads as 3 elements:

Visual. Headline.  Copy.

That’s why the copy was just put in as ‘Greek’ (Lorem ipsum) on the layout.

It wasn’t important.

For most art directors this copy was just several grey blocks at the bottom of the ad.

For reasons of design, art directors got rid of ‘widows’ and ‘indents’.

(Sentences which began or ended in the middle of a line, so leaving white space.)

They thought it was graphically cleaner, and more attractive.

But Helmut Krone didn’t think anyone would want to read an impenetrable block.

So he began cutting spaces into the copy, to open it up.

The very spaces the other art directors were trying to get rid of.

Then he  said to the writer Julian Koenig, “Can you write copy to fit this?”

Koenig said, “I can, but some of the sentences will be just one word long.”

Krone said, “That’s okay.”

He wasn’t interested in grammatical correctness.

He was interested in opening it up so it looked inviting to read.

And so a whole new style of non-grammatical advertising writing was born.

Faster, snappier, punchier.

And it works because it’s the way people talk.

And it’s certainly a lot more inviting to read.

I once read an interview with Elmore Leonard.

He is probably the biggest-selling crime-writer ever.

He was asked in an interview, what made him such a successful writer.

Did he have any tips?

He said, “Lot’s of white space on the page.”