Advice for Writing Students, Thoughts for Veterans.

While thinking of what to write in this week's post, I stumbled upon an old email I wrote to an aspiring (and pretty talented) ad student a while back (he has since gotten a job). I figure I try and go philosophical sometimes in these posts, but this is just an honest email and maybe it says more. Here's the email (edited a bit, no names etc):


Your adventure is just beginning. You've got some interesting starts, but I'm really not seeing anything that I wanted to show to my buddies at the office. You've got to break some new ground, shock someone, make them uncomfortable. The secret to every great ad is tension.

Do something that nobody else in the industry could do. Something that only could come from you, because it's the only thing guaranteed not to be in hundreds of books. It doesn't even need to be an ad, just something that sells the product.

When I was just starting out, I had a meeting with a guy from DDB. He told me about the first time he met a creative director. Apparently he took the guys book, flipped through it, and threw it in the trash right in front of him and told him to put together a new one. Now I don't think this is fully necessary, but keep it in mind. It's through this that work grows and gets better.

[comment on good headline, bad copy]...The copy on this doesn't seem crafted yet. It looks like you didn't care about it because it wasn't part of the "fun" of the ad. Pay close attention to everything. That part is crucial to the message, and if I don't read it, I won't get it. Now I'm not saying to make it silly goofy fun-time show or anything, just throw an unexpected word here or there. Write it as if you were Hemmingway writing it. Write it as if Alex Bogusky was going to judge you solely based on that one line...

Don't worry about spinning a line super slick, just say something interesting, funny, clever, smart in a simple honest way and it'll come off good.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

The last sentence says it all. thanks

Terry Finley

http://terryrfinley.bravehost.com/

Stan Lee said...

Excellent advice.

I remember the first CD I showed my folio to said that I'd get a job as a copywriter if that was what I wanted to do. What i really wanted to do.

He then went on to say that I'd never get a job with 'that folio'. So I threw it away and came up with a whole new one.

Got an offer shortly thereafter.

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