An old Art Director once said this to me. He was often mocking us copy folk. ‘Just write anything, no one’s going to read it anyway’, he’d say. ‘It’s a headline, Dave, not War & Peace’…
So when he uttered the three words that sit proudly above this article – they hit me like an insulting and somewhat demotivating bullet. But this time, the old boy wasn’t taking the proverbial. Rather, he was giving me a very valuable lesson.
See, where clients, planners, project managers and account handlers may not have an eye for art direction, they can all write. It’s a fact. Each will have their own preferences, opinions and writing style. And this is something we, as copywriters, must always be mindful of when taking feedback.
In order for an ad to be believable – it must speak with a single voice. It must talk to the reader one to one, and guide them uninterrupted from start to finish. But if everyone’s opinions – as valid as they may be – are taken into consideration, the resulting communication almost certainly will not.
Bill Bernbach once said, “Most readers come away not with a clear, precise detailed registration of the content on their minds, but rather a vague misty idea that was formed as much by the pace and proportion of the music of the writing as by the literal words themselves.”
As copywriters, we have to ensure that amends, tweaks and additions don’t interrupt our carefully written score and, ultimately, dilute the intended message. We must push back, be petty, and defend even the tiniest detail.
After all, copywriting doesn’t mean copying writing. And while everyone can write – as long as we stay strong and maintain our own unique style – no one can write like us.