Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Whiskey and copy.

A friend, who is the ECD at a big agency asked me (and some other "judgmental" people) why copywriting today is so mediocre.

First, I gave the expected response--the old guy's response: "There's not enough time to do it right. When I was at Doyle Dane we had eighteen months to write a single sentence. We took three weeks to choose between an m-dash or an n-dash." But that response left me cold. And it got me thinking about Dashiell Hammett.

In an early story, the Continental Op (Hammett's Sam Spade forerunner) observes a sign over a bar in
Tijuana. Here's what Hammett writes:

"I was reading a sign high on the wall behind the bar:

ONLY GENUINE PRE-WAR AMERICAN AND
BRITISH WHISKEYS SERVED HERE

I was trying to count how many lies could be found in those nine words,
and had reached four, with promise of more."

Hammett's point is my point. We write lies and cliches.
They're comfortable. They're expedient. Clients (and creative directors)
have seen them before so they can be approved with little effort.

Well, to quote another great writer, Dylan Thomas:
"Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Don't give in to scalable solutions, robust interfaces, 5 days only.
Don't give in to the expected. Like the phone center humatrons who,
after not solving your issue, mechanically ask:
Is there anything else I can help you with?

As a consumer when I get shivved with crap like that I run screaming.
Speak to me honestly.
Or not at all.

1 comment:

tore's tour said...

right. exactly. despite living in a world with more messages knocking on our forehead than ever, most of those messages are simply cut and paste crap with no particular meaning and no genuine thinking behind them.