Thursday, May 31, 2012

The work that goes into the work.

During my last couple of years at Ogilvy, I had what was by far the best, most prolific run of my career. I've always enjoyed doing print more than anything else and, it seemed, I was doing most of the print for the biggest account in the agency. In fact, I had three print campaigns running simultaneously and it was not unusual for me to open up the "Times" or "The Wall Street Journal" and see one if not more of my ads.

There's something about seeing an ad you wrote in the paper that is the advertising equivalent of hitting a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth. I don't think the sensation grows old.

One of the by-products of success is, of course, jealousy and back-stabbing. People--always ready to tear someone else down--targeted me. I was producing all that work, they said (behind my back, naturally) because I was up someone's ass or because by some nefarious means I had gotten lucky.

As a copywriter, I am a saver. My process, often, is to type. Type lines, type body copy, type puzzles and then try to unpuzzle the problem. I name and save all these files. What I found was this: Most of the ads I wrote had headlines that were about six words long. Body copy ran about a total of 75 words. In all, an ad consisted of about 80 words.

I checked my files.

I had written thousands and thousands of words to get to those 80. It wasn't unusual to go through 15 rounds of revisions with the client.

So, if my run of ads consisted of 30 ads in all, I might have written 500 revisions and 60,000 words.

Further, it probably took me three years of hard work to be in the position to do this hard work. I wasn't anointed. Rather I had come through on myriad other assignments so my bosses and my clients trusted me to handle these.

Too many people think advertising is easy. They see a spot they like or they think is good and they say (as people used to say about, say, Jackson Pollack, 'my kid could do that.')

They don't see, don't recognize, don't realize the work that goes into the work.

1 comment:

Philip said...

Love what you say about the warm glow of seeing your baby in the newspaper for the first time (or any time). The true copywriter's job satisfaction