Obama Stole Their Copywriter

May 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Two days before my exam and I am predictably procrastinating my evening away. To be fair, I have been revising from 10 til 6 and my head is so jumbled I probably needed some down-time. Besides, it’s probably the best form of procrastination around; certainly the most productive and creative. I’ve just applyed to – yep, you guessed it – another job: this time an advert for a new copywriter at Poke, which is a digital advertising agency.

The campaign for the new copywriter is inspired in itself. “Obama Stole Our Writer” tells the tale of how their newest copywriter has been snapped up by the clutches of President Obama, so they have a position to fill. Check it out here. The application involves various challenges, in which the aspiring copywriter (that’s me!) has to write in a variety of styles, tones and across imaginary media; ranging from a witty, slightly tongue-in-cheek email of apology to Poke from Mr Obama himself to a three-word slogan to let him know Poke isn’t angry about it. It’s a fresh and engaging way of ensuring copywriters can truly write to task.

I think that this last bit is particularly important these days. Back in the “golden days” of traditional advertising, anyone could go into an advertising agency and ask to take a Copy Test, which would test their thinking abilities as well as their ability to write to brief. Now, copywriters are generally expected to come in a pair with an art director with a portfolio of ready-made ideas. It’s great if these ideas have been set comercially, but completely acceptable for them to be random sketches of concepts and ideas as and when they come to you. This is great, of course, and demonstrates the passion and creativity needed in advertising but does it really engage with the commercial side and reality of advertising which works around client briefs?

Ultimately, whilst every ad (wo)man would love to get to pick and choose their briefs, working with what was new and exciting and challenging, this is hardly ever the case. It’s a rare thing to see a brand or product and be able to think “Huh, their advertising is all wrong. I can do it so much better.” and then actually get to. It’s the advertising student’s prerogative and the advertising creative’s dream. In reality, copywriters will be expected to come up with copy for all sorts of things but always to a set brief. A portfolio in which you can imagine the briefs and write accordingly can never pin down or replicate this setting so exactly.

Working on the Poke application has allowed me to get back to what I really love about advertising (similarly to the Creative application to the IPA Summer School) which is problem solving at its most brilliant. I feel like I’m really starting to pin down what it is exactly about advertising that I enjoy. I must remember to file it away for future job interview questions in which they will predicatably ask me “So… why advertising?”

Anyway back to problem solving of another kind. Just what exactly is postmodernism anyway….?


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