I was looking through The D&AD Copy Book the other day.
It’s a large book they put together a few years back.
It’s made up of the advice from, and work of, some of the best copywriters.
The advice that rang most bells with me was James Lowther’s.
It’s the sort of advice that, when you read it, make you think,
“Blimey, that’s exactly right. I’d forgotten that. Brilliant.”
It’s quite long, so I’ve cut out my favourite bits.
Here they are:
CHUCK OUT THE BRIEF
Don’t always accept the planner’s brief. It’s sometimes just a form of words which manages to get into one sentence all the contradictory things that the client and the account team wanted to say.
Just because you’re called a copywriter, don’t start thinking about writing. The best copywriters are often highly visual. After all, a newspaper ad is
just a blank sheet of paper in which you can do absolutely anything you want. As long as it makes a point.
Sit back and sniff around the problem.
Have fun. Tell stories and jokes around the subject. That way your might come at the problem from an unexpected angle.
DO THE OPPOSITE
Think of what everybody else does in the category of product you’re
advertising and do the opposite. Why do all our car ads look the same? Why do all our washing powder ads look the same? Why not do a car ad like a washing powder ad? Or vice versa. It may not work but it just might.
LEAVE THE OFFICE
You’ll never be a good writer of anything if you just sit in your office and stare at your desk. Your new material isn’t in the office or in Groucho’s for the matter. It’s out on the streets. Look at pictures. Listen to music. Go to films. See plays. And more importantly look at people.
FIGHT FOR IT
People don’t like the great ideas. They’re original. Which means they’re unfamiliar and therefore frightening.
This explains why mediocre advertisements sail through without touching the sides, whereas people always find a million and one reasons why a great idea should never run.
All of this is great advice for copywriters.
In fact it’s great advice for anyone creative.
But it’s easy to give advice.
How do you know if it works?
As Animal-Motherfucker says in Full Metal Jacket, “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?”
What’s the proof that this advice comes from someone worth listening to?
Well, this person wrote: AUSTRALIANS WOULDN’T GIVE A XXXX FOR ANY OTHER LAGER.
Maybe some of the best advertising, and certainly one of the best straplines, ever written.