The role of the copywriter and teamwork

Last week, we had a talk session with Chris Rickaby on the topic of “The Role of the Writer”, where he talked about what a copywriter does and the condition in which teamwork works the best.

Chris started his career as an advertising copywriter at DDB, was a Creative Director at Different, and is now working on his PhD thesis on transmedia.

The role of the writer

Traditionally:

  • Create ideas
  • Make a strong team player
  • Craft headlines and copy
  • Script
  • Web copy
  • Copy checking

Now:

  • Understand cross-platform / transmedia
  • Storytelling

He also gave us some tips regarding writing good ads.

You’re not selling the sausage, sell the sizzle.

John Caples (1920’s) was The Sizzle King. He came up with the idea of selling the sizzle instead of the sausage. With any product you get, always ask yourself “What am I really selling?”

Always find the best narrative for the client regardless of circumstances.

Write with the reader.

Think of every ad as a 1-to-1 conversation with your audience. Always think of it as an individual experience.

Tony Cox (at DDB 80-90’s) was called Mr Cup and Saucer. When shown the work from junior teams, he often said “It’s a bit cup and saucer, isn’t it?”

What he meant by “cup and saucer” was when the visual and the headline say the same thing. Instead, they should complement each other.

Also, write an ad so that it works 80% and let the audience do the rest (20%) of the work.

Teamwork – the practical approach

Here is a five-day example.

Day 1 and 2: Free uncritical brainstorm. Write everything down. (Even the bad, silly ideas, since they can be the root of a great idea/campaign.) This should be the most exciting and fun part of the process.

Day 3: Critical review. Separate the wheat from the chaff. Constantly refer to the brief. Pick winners.

Day 4: Develop winner. Eject what’s not working. Think about other media.

Day 5: Perfect development. Craft headlines, etc. Agree your internal pitch (about which ideas to present) and always support with strong logical reasons.

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