Reply to Kamikaze

In another place Kamikaze wrote:

these days, we ad folks are churning out Creative Public Service Announcements, but with the sole objective of winning metals. Even the ads made for Greenpeace, are pitted against each other, but only at myriad award functions, made especially for the awards jury. In this case what do you think should be done, in order to shift the focus from winning metals to actually create something that earns results?

The pious, and correct, answer is that public service ads created especially for awards juries defeat the object both of award schemes and of doing public service.

If no one is complaining, it's because the award schemes, of which there are far too many, get their entry fees, the jury members get their mugshots in the annuals, the "clients" get a bit of cheap publicity even if it is limited to the ad industry, and some of those who have paid the entry fees go away with bits of metal. So, apart from the people who have failed to win, everyone is happy, a few bucks have been made, egos have been stroked and nothing of value has been achieved.

This is a very paltry kind of success. Anyone who wants to push their abilities and create marvellous work, especially someone who wants to make a difference in the world, should stop worrying about advertising awards.

Learn to create really powerful communication and the world will bring sacks of trophies to your door. Being a polite person you will say thank you, and mean it, before you throw them away.

For me the act of communication begins with feeling. If I had to dissect what the process of writing is, it is feeling, vision, intention, technique, discrimination, suffering, perseverance. Technique can be taught, the rest can only be talked about.

8 comments

ivan's picture
ivan

This post references this exhibition topic: http://adsoftheworld.com/forum/exhibition/indian_oil

Kamikaze's picture
Kamikaze
716 pencils

Hi Sir! Unfortunately I have the Hardbound Copy of The Last Word! So, I am not quite sure about how I will be able to send it across! Nevertheless, i will try and find one, or if need be, i will scan this copy and mail it across to you, !

Cheers!

Kamikaze's picture
Kamikaze
716 pencils

Talking of technique in writing, currently there's this burgeoning trend of "exaggerated image-flyspeck logo-loose copy" going on. We hardly see good long copy ads these days. When i took a copy of The Copy Book to my agency (which is not worth talking about), they had the cheek to ask, "are these press releases?". And suddenly i felt like "Cat got my tongue"! The most recent example of a good long copy ad would be The Singapore Hospice campaign, which of course, was good, but lacked that touch which is very very apparent in the Long Copy ads of the Yore (the ones written by You, John Bevins, David Abbott and the likes). As a piece of advice to me as a budding copywriter, do you think long copy ads work in these times at all? Or do you think i should keep up my faith in writing long copy, that runs into paras and paras, and eventually gives my art partner, a taste of hell?

Cheers!

Indra Sinha's picture
Indra Sinha
32 pencils

Press releases? How funny. Ivan has just posted some Bhopal Medical Appeal ads I wrote, which are fairly long, and someone commented and asked where one should draw the line between news and advertising. My reply to this is, who has told you that you must draw a line? What use is such a line? A page in a newspaper or a magazine is a paid-for blank white space into which you have the freedom to put whatever works best. Neil French has proved over and over again that none of the supposedly essential elements of a press ad are actually needed.

"Long copy" has historically served several purposes. David Ogilvy used it to give the impression that there were important things to be said about whatever it was he was advertising. He didn't expect people to read the copy, so he advised a headline which spelled out the main benefit ("At seventy miles an hour the loudest sound in this new Rolls Royce is the ticking of its electric clock"). He also advised subheads, just in case.

Direct marketing people write at great and tedious length because if you are trying to sell off the page there's a lot of information to impart and much persuasion to be done. I detest their tired formulae and consider them an abuse of words.

The Bhopal ads have an important and complex story to tell, which is why I use full pages. I might write 1,000 words, but a magazine article on the same subject would be three times as long.

In the 1970s in the hands of people like Tony Brignull press ads became rewarding to read in their own right. (Look at "Revive the lost art of the insult" which I suppose is in the D&AD Copy Book). Neil F has written some wonderfully entertaining pieces of all lengths. I once had the pleasure of watching him at work. He took a large sheet of tracing paper, divided into the number of columns he proposed to fill. Then he took a pen and began lettering in the copy, which he was making up as he went along. He was able to write in roman or italic at 10 or 12 point. When he got near the end of the final column, he wrapped up the piece then we went out and drank a lot of wine.

Kamikaze's picture
Kamikaze
716 pencils

I have to absolutely agree with you in this respect, Sir! Especially with Tony Brignull’s (Rediscover the lost art of insult, for Parker Laque, if I am not wrong). I know, I am sounding like a dullard by asking this, but is there any trick, or more so, the most important element while crafting a killer Headline?… (My reference would be something from what you’ve written, “Could You Turn The Other Cheek”). I mean, it startles you to your spine and compels you to read further. What does it take to write a headline that would make my piece of communication, both intriguing and refined…

Cheers!

Indra Sinha's picture
Indra Sinha
32 pencils

The Metropolitan Police brief was to attract fewer but better recruits - which we did by stressing not how attractive but how difficult the job was. As with so many Colletts campaigns, a lot of people had contributed to it. The first ads were done by John Salmon and Arthur Parsons. The distinctive editorial styling was an innovation by Jeremy Clarke and Graham Fink. When they left to go to Saatchi's, Neil Godfrey and I inherited the campaign.

The particular ad you mention came out of many fact-finding trips Neil and I made with the police in London. We were involved in a car chase, we patrolled red light areas, talked to old people in crime-ridden housing estates, hobnobbed with down and outs, we interviewed people involved in teenage gangs - so the first thing was that we knew our subject backwards.

One of the coppers we met told us how hard he had it to control his temper in certain situations - when he'd seen people during a demo burning police horses with cigarettes - when he was chasing a drunken driver doing 90 mph through streets full of people - when a young man he was arresting spat in his face.

We decided to show all these provocations and challenge the reader to respond. The first rough showed a number of pictures with the working headline "How long before you lose your rag?" (ie your temper). Neil then decided it would be stronger to focus on just one image, so we chose the spitting scene. This was pinned to the wall with the old line still attached to it. Looking at Neil's drawing a rather obvious line popped into my head, so I crossed out the first one and above it wrote "Could you turn the other cheek?"

The process in this case started with being steeped in the subject and having a strong feeling of what we wanted to achieve, after which we tried all sorts of things, struggled somewhat painfully, but refused to be satisfied until we had a result that delighted us.

adformula's picture
adformula
39 pencils

indra is right here,,,,Ogilvy and the likes with the before me darkness and after me deluge syndrome has said a lot of dos and donts but does that really matters?... I doubt,,,, well done ...

marouf's picture
marouf
4 pencils

I admire Indra Sinha's rule and tone when he produces copy and headline, particularly when campaigning for unpopular causes. I was very fortunate to work with Indra on different campaigns many of which attracted excellent response rates, despite the fact that they were unknown names to the public. The concept and its origin must not be dictated by the size of the copy, but often complex and controversial offers requires a solid and convincing copy. However, the genius behind Indra is his remarkable way to lead the concept with a hard-hitting headline.

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