Writing Under Pressure

June 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

In an attempt to prepare for my upcoming interview this Tuesday I have been scribbling down ad ideas whenever I get a chance. Annoyingly, the ideas come to me when I’m in the shower, sat in the cinema or just as I’m about to fall asleep, and for some reason never seem as good when I come to write them out a few hours later. In fact, every idea always seem so much better when it’s in my head but I’m sure that’s the curse for all creatives, even when you’ve been in the industry for a while.

This got me thinking about how good branding, slogans and advertising could be inside the creative’s head that never actually get fully realised, or if an excellent producer will be able to capture these original thoughts from the badly organised, scrappy bit of scribbled paper and create the same original masterpiece. As I looked through the D&AD Student Awards results last night, two responses in particular caught my eye (although I suppose as an aspiring copywriter I’m a tad biased): the copywriting entry brief.

First of all, the winning entry which sells the D&AD Copy Book with its simple, but oh-so-clever title: “Great Copy in it. Not so great copy selling it.” In other words, it expresses the idea that any title or cover for the book will not be able to do justice to the brilliance of the copy inside it, and doesn’t even want to try. Combine this excellent basic premise with a uncomplicated and universally loved black text on white background and you’ve got yourself a winner. Ironically, by winning the copywriting brief, it seems that the “not so great copy” is great after all.

The other entry that caught my eye was the idea that “It takes work to make it work” with universally, well-known slogans such as McDonald’s’ “I’m Lovin’ It” changed to “I am currently experiencing a strong positive emotion of affection.” It’s witty, it’s clever and it somehow encompasses the nightmare of writing copy without having to explicitly say it, even as it mocks the very process. When I originally saw the copywriting brief however many months ago, this idea of the amount of work that goes into every piece of copy we see was at the top of my list as an insight and premise and it seems it paid off for these students. Congrats to all the winners – I’m definitely going to work on the awards next years when I’m not bogged down with so much uni work!

Right now, I’m working on revising the VUE cinema advertising for their £1 teenage Friday and Saturday night offer. Every time I go to the cinema (which is becoming more and more frequent in my post-exam state) I see this ad and it makes me cringe every time. Obviously, their target market is teenagers and they know it very well, but they seem to have gone no further than identifying them rather than actually aiming it at them. Even if the offer was aimed at everyone, no self-respecting adult would find this advert appealing, amusing or experience any other positive emotion towards it. It’s plain cringey. And since when did cringey, patronising advertising have a positive response in a teenage market either? As if teenagers are excited by a cheesy voice-over, magic and an overly-excited male model…

So I’m reworking it. Just for fun. And for the interview on Tuesday. It seems to me that a lot of advertising makes the mistake these days of getting too caught up in knowing their market. It’s not just about knowing it, it’s about understanding it. And there’s a big difference. Instead of focusing on the cheap price and magic of all things, I’m trying to emphasise the social side of a cinema trip with mates. Really, the cheap weekend tickets are hiding a social agenda to get teenagers away from under-age drinking and hanging out on the streets, but in order to effectively do this the cheap cinema deal needs to be competing on a comparable level. That means being able to spend time with friends and have a laugh; instead of Admit One for a £1, teenagers should be able to “buy a round” for their mates, all for less than a fiver. Objectively, I think anyone would agree (hopefully interviewers and creative directors included) that this is a much better idea, which taps into and more importantly understands the target market.

Starting to get simultaneously scared and excited about the interview on Tuesday. Wish me luck!

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