Thursday, March 9, 2017

Some more thoughts on Writing.

Probably the biggest change in the business over the span of my 33 years as a copywriter, is that advertising has gotten "professionalized."

Rather than being populated primarily by people who can draw and people who can write, that is, people who have an understanding of the human condition, the industry now is full of all sorts of different professionals. 

We have analytics people, behavioral scientists, technologists, content creators, content strategists, and a whole host of people whose jobs seem to be setting up meetings so, a) all of the above people can get together a couple times a day and b) because all these people need to meet.

To be candid, the whole thing is a little depressing. We spend far more time talking about doing work than working. Imagine a farmer who spends his nights and days talking about wheat but never quite gets around to planting any, much less reaping any.

In any event, yesterday I happened across this "Help Wanted" ad from the world's most-awarded digital agency.

They are looking for something they're calling a "Senior Verbal Designer." I have no idea what that means. Nor do I have any idea after reading the two paragraphs they provided that describe the job.

Senior Verbal Designer

Our Business Transformation team combines their  business, brand, and technology know-how to create a new type of consulting framework  - one that focuses on helping companies leverage technology to create new business models and brand strategies for growth.

As a Senior Verbal Designer, you’ll be working with the Associate Director of Verbal Design and the Group Executive Creative Director of Business Transformation to apply strategic and creative thinking and skills on big brand projects and new technologies and experiences designed for the connected age.

There's a website I use, professionally, and sometimes out of curiosity, that measures reading ease. 

I found a passage just now by the great writer Roger Angel, and stuck 100 random words of his prose from "The New Yorker," into the "analyzer."

Here's what they said about Angel. Readability scores that don't baffle. The keys here are their Flesch-Kincaid score--which is nearly perfect at 6.6 and their reading ease score, also nearly perfect at 79.4.
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Then I did the same with the job description for a Senior Verbal Designer. The 21.7 score is the worst I've ever seen as is their 14.1. It basically means they are obfuscating, not communicating.

How to assess Flesch-Kincaid.

Maybe the people looking for a Senior Verbal Designer should consider this advice on writing from Bob Levenson--widely regarded as one of the best copywriters ever.

This excerpt is from "The Guardian."

"Levenson was famous among up-and-coming admen and women for advising them on how to write copy: "Start off with 'Dear Charlie,' then say 'this is what I want to tell you about. Make believe that the person you're talking to is a perfectly intelligent friend who knows less about the product than you do. Then, when you've finished writing the copy, just cross out 'Dear Charlie'."

Senior Verbal Designer.

My literate ass.

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